Doran Regional Park in Bodega Bay is situated on a broad, sandy 120-acre spit that forms the northern border of the bay and the southern border of Bodega Harbor. On summer weekends, inland residents flock here seeking the cooler temperatures typically found along this part of the coast.
The park has a campground for both trailers and tents (the accessible campsites have electricity), a boat launch, picnic tables, and a .4-mile hike through wetlands that connects to the Bird Walk coastal access trail for an additional one-mile loop. The calm waters off this two-mile-long stretch of beach are the best in Sonoma County for swimming, and a concrete ramp provides good access to the beach when using a beach wheelchair.
A short boardwalk with platforms overlooking the beach is off the main day-use lot; be sure to stop at the marble sculpture “Whale Ballet,” by Warren Arnold. From the picnic tables at the end of the park road, you can watch people fishing from the rocky jetty at the spit’s end, or just enjoy the bay views and, on a clear day, perhaps spot Tomales Point in the distance.
Doran Marsh Trail
see access criteria for definitions
Trailhead: Across from the first parking lot beyond the park’s entrance on Doran Park Road
Length: Under one mile total
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: Level
Moderate uphill to reach Bird Walk after crossing the creek
Large-sized gravel in places makes for a bumpy ride. Might be muddy in wet weather.
Although Doran Marsh Trail can be hiked quickly—it’s short, straight, and flat—I combined it with the adjoining Bird Walk and spent several hours meandering along the two trails, observing birdlife, taking photos, and trying to identify the plants—all despite a heavy mist that dampened my clothes. An incessant foghorn that might bother campers was to me a soothing accent to the ever-present birdsong. At one point my attention was held by a rustling in the grasses that I thought might be a jackrabbit; instead, I was treated to the sight of two fawns springing away in cartoon-like fashion.
The Doran Marsh Trail runs on a levee along Cheney Creek, then crosses the creek on an accessible bridge and climbs a gentle hill to its crest, where you can connect to the Bird Walk loop. Cheney Creek provides habitat for federally threatened Central Coast steelhead and is a critical nursery area for several fish species, including the three-spined stickleback and prickly sculpin. Coyote brush, coast morning glory, yarrow, and yellow lupine are the dominant plants. On my summertime visit, mustard and gum plant, both yellow, brightened up an otherwise gray day. Birds you might see include egrets, western grebes, and American avocets.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Beach Wheelchair: Yes
Available from the camp host at site 59. If the camp host is not available, ask at the entrance kiosk.
Accessible Parking: Yes
At Cypress, day-use, and jetty lots. The dirt and gravel lot across from Doran Marsh Trail has no striping.
Accessible Restroom: Yes
At jetty and day-use parking lots. Campground has unisex stalls that are open to the public.
Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes
Tables on concrete pads with raised barbecue grills are at the jetty day-use parking lot.
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Map: See here.
Dogs: On a leash and rabies certificate required