Whales and First Day Hikes Start January 1
Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Migrating California Gray whales, numbering between 18,000–23,000 individuals, pass by the Mendocino coast twice each year. Here are several ways you can check out the whales and other wildlife along the Mendocino Coast, thanks to State Parks.

Whale Tail Seen From Shore!FIRST DAY WALKS: California State Parks announces guided interpretive hikes at 4 state parks along the Mendocino Coast on January 1, 2012. These hikes are part of a nationwide effort of special hikes on New Years Day in state parks in all 50 states. This will promote state parks and participation in healthy activities. All of these hikes will take place on California’s North Coast in wintertime. Be prepared for cool temperatures.

WALK #1: Westport-Union Landing State Beach. Meet the docent at 1:00 p.m. at the park headquarters building at park main entrance, just west of Hwy 1. The park is located about 19 miles north of Fort Bragg, California on Hwy 1. This will be a 1 mile long moderate hike. This hike is suggested for children 8 years and older, and adults. Learn fun facts about the once bustling town of Westport from local resident Steve Brigham.

WALK #2: MacKerricher State Park. Meet the docent at 10:00 a.m. at the Laguna Point parking lot, from Mill Creek Road, three miles north of Fort Bragg, California, west of Hwy 1. This will be an easy three-quarter-mile walk along a boardwalk. This short walk will be filled with fun facts about MacKerricher State Park as you walk to an overlook above the ocean. Park Naturalist Teresa Hurray will lead this walk. The walk is suggested for children 12 years and older, and adults.

WALK #3: Russian Gulch State Park. Meet the docent in front of the recreation hall at the park at 12:00 noon. The park entrance road is located on the west side of Hwy 1, three miles north of Mendocino, California. This will be a moderate 5.5 mile out and back hike (2.75 miles each way) to the beautiful waterfall at Russian Gulch State Park. You will learn about the park’s natural history from Dave Jensen, renowned birder and naturalist. This hike is suggested for children 10 years and older, and adults. Bring water and snacks with you.

WALK #4: Mendocino Headlands State Park. Meet the docent at the Ford House Visitor Center at 1:00 p.m. The visitor center is at 725 E. Main St. in Mendocino, California. This will be a moderate 2 mile out and back hike (1 mile each way) to the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Park naturalist Fred Andrews will talk about the annual migration of gray whales between Alaska and Baja. Binoculars will be provided to look for gray whales swimming southward. This hike is suggested for children 10 years and older, and adults.

WHALE TALKS: California State Parks announces weekend whale talks at MacKerricher State Park! Talks will take place from January 7 through March 18, 2012. Knowledgeable docents will talk about the annual gray whale migration and about other marine mammals seen along the Mendocino coast. Programs are scheduled to begin every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 a.m., from January 7, through March 18.

Talks will begin near the visitor center at the main entrance to MacKerricher State Park. Docents will provide binoculars and a spotting scope to help visitors study whales and other fascinating wildlife found near MacKerricher’s shores. After meeting at the MacKerricher visitor center, groups will then drive to Laguna Point, where you will walk out to look for whales. Programs are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday from January 7 through March 18, 2011

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