Welcome to Stornetta Public Lands

A fisherman proudly holds up a bass caught on a 50-foot line suspended from the edge of a sheer sandstone cliff. Nearby, a woman reads quietly next to a spring-fed pond that empties into the raging Pacific. Across the road, the Garcia River meanders through a lush riparian corridor.

Welcome to Stornetta Public Lands, a 1,130-acre swath of Mendocino County coastline that just opened to the public. Though virtually no trails exist yet ― and they may not ever ― hiking is permitted anywhere.

Start at the Point Arena Lighthouse, drive about 1 mile down Lighthouse Road, and park in the informal parking area. From there, walk toward the ocean, or head in the opposite direction toward the river. If time permits afterward, hit adjacent Manchester State Park and watch the sun set behind the dunes.

“We consider this our new backyard,” says Point Arena mayor Leslie Dahlhoff.

And now, so can you.

INFO: Access Stornetta Public Lands from the Point Arena Lighthouse ($5; www.pointarenalighthouse.com, 877/725-4448 or 707/882-2777), or from the gated area along Lighthouse Road (no fee). For more information call 707/468-4000.

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