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Bowling Ball Beach | by snowpeak
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Bowling Ball Beach

This beach, famous for its bowling ball-shaped rocks at the edge of the surf, is located a few miles north of Gualala, California. It is accessible only at low tide.


We followed the directions and found the parking area on Hwy 1. You can't see the beach from there, and we had to make a choice: north or south. I chose south ("Often wrong, but never in doubt") and we proceeded down a trail towards the beach. Even though the tide was at its lowest, we came to some rocks that descended all the way down to the sea. We had to climb over them. Federica went first and was quite a way ahead of me, when I decided that although I wanted to see Bowling Ball Beach, I also didn't want to die just then. The rocks were slippery and required a better sense of balance than I was confident that I had. I called out to her that I was going to turn around. She said that she could see the bowling balls and people on the beach, but she also turned around and we retreated back to the car.


So then we tried the northern approach. As we walked down this trail to the beach, we met a group of four returning with armloads of abalone shells. They assured us that we were on the right path, but warned that the tide was starting to come in. Eventually we got to the steep cliff and descended down some steps that didn't go quite all the way to the beach. We elected to slide down the last ten feet.


For reference, the cliff on the extreme left side of this photo is where we descended. The place where the cliff bends out of sight is roughly where I decided to turn around on the first try.


On our return, we found a way to avoid the ten-foot slide, which would have been a steep ascent on the way back. It required a scary step across a ten foot drop onto sharp rocks, but we made it without injury.

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Taken on March 7, 2016