Bowling Ball Beach is about 2.5 mi. s., accessible via the parking area at jct. SR 1 and Schooner Gulch Rd. The small paved lot, on the ocean side of SR 1, is easy to miss and is marked with a sign saying “Park facing south only.” You can follow two dirt trails to the ocean; the trail at the south end of the lot leads to Schooner Gulch Beach, while the trail at the north end provides access to Bowling Ball Beach.
Getting to Bowling Ball Beach is a bit of an adventure. At the end of the north trail is a 10 to 15-foot, nearly vertical descent to the beach by way of wood steps anchored to a cliffside by cables. After climbing down these steps you must carefully cross a mishmash of logs and rocks, some solidly buried in the sand and others loosely anchored in water (watch your step). You then walk north (toward the right) along the beach. The bowling ball rocks are a quarter of a mile or so from the wood steps, about a 10-minute walk.
These round, smooth stones are situated in what appear to be diagonal rows and present a curious sight along the otherwise empty beach. Geologically speaking, they are known as concretions—hard, compact masses of sedimentary rock that often are spherical in shape. The rocks are submerged at high tide; check the tide schedule for Point Arena online before setting out on this trip and plan to arrive during low tide.
In addition to beachcombing—at low tide the beach is wide and flat—there also are spectacular panoramic views from the bluffs overlooking Schooner Gulch Beach (accessible via the north trail).
Use caution when pulling out of the parking lot, as blind curves can obscure approaching vehicles; if you intend to drive north when leaving, head south first and turn around rather than trying to make a U-turn out of the lot, or park along the inland side of SR 1 near the Schooner Gulch Road intersection.
Note: The steps descending to the beach at the end of the northern trail remain closed due to erosion. They are scheduled to be repaired, but the reopening date is unknown; phone ahead for updates. Visitors can take the southern trail to Schooner Gulch Beach and then walk north toward Bowling Ball Beach; depending on the time of year it may be necessary to negotiate around piles of driftwood.
Time: Allow 1 hour minimum.