Russian Gulch State Park
The park features 7630 feet of rocky ocean shores; it is approximately 3/4 of a mile wide from north to south at its widest point, and extends for approximately three miles from east to west. Russian Gulch is crossed by California State Highway 1, which passes over the gulch on the Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge, a large concrete arch bridge constructed in 1940. The park entrance is on the west side of Highway 1, north of the bridge, and connects by a one-lane road under the bridge to the eastern part of the park. The smaller, western portion of the park consists largely of headlands with a blowhole and picnic areas, while the larger eastern portion of the park includes a campground, the park headquarters, and several trails for bicycles, hikers, and horses. A 2.5 mile hike from the trailhead at the east end of the campground to a 36-foot waterfall largely follows an abandoned logging road along the creek. A small beach, physically in the western part of the park but accessed by a road from the eastern side, is equipped with a restroom and an outdoor shower; swimming, skin diving, fishing, and tide pool exploration are all possible.
The name "Russian Gulch" was given to the area by U.S. government surveyors, in honor of the Russian fur trappers who founded Fort Ross fifty miles to the south; according to a more specific local tradition, a deserter from Fort Ross lived at Russian Gulch. In the second half of the 19th century, schooners would frequently make dangerous stops in the cove to take on coast redwood lumber and passengers; the headlands still contain iron rings used to hold ropes and move lumber when these ships docked, and a mill made redwood shingles on what is now the site of a park recreation hall. Some of the land within what is now the park was farmed in the late 19th century, and in the mid-1920s a property developer from Los Angeles, F. O. Warner, bought land in the area with the intention of building a resort there. The Native Sons of the Golden West began a drive to turn the area into a park in 1928, and after funds were provided by A. Johnston, the county, and the state, the park was founded in 1933.
Russian Gulch was one of 70 state parks due for closure in 2012 due to state budget cuts.
- Russian Gulch SP, California State Park System.
- Russian Gulch State Park brochure (PDF), California State Park System, 2003.
- Russian Gulch Bridge, California State Park System.
- Ostertag, George (2001), California State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide, The Mountaineers Books, pp. 42–44, ISBN 978-0-89886-762-6.
- Freeze, Dennis F. (2002), Mendocino Outdoors, Monolith Press, pp. 26–27, ISBN 0-9722769-0-4.
- Stewart, George R. (1950), "Three Mendocino names", Western Folklore (Western States Folklore Society) 9 (2): 154–155, doi:10.2307/1496550, JSTOR 1496550.
- Brennan, Pat (May 13, 2011), "State cuts force closure of 70 parks", Orange County Register.