Visiting Gualala California

By the GRWC Student Interns…


ah-kha-wa-la-lee where the water runs down

Stopping in Gualala

Stopping in Gualala
Photo courtesy of the Held-Poage Museum

The name “Gualala” (wa-LA-law) was derived from a Pomo Indian phrase that means “where the water runs down.” For centuries the town has been the center for the surrounding communities to shop and gather.

Passing through Gualala

If you’re just quickly passing through Gualala, and only have a short time to enjoy this small town, pick up a snack and go for a walk along the bluff top trail.

View of Bluff Top Trail

View of the estuary from Bluff Top Trail
Photo courtesy of Julie Verran

The trail overlooks the scenic Gualala River estuary and has benches along the path where you can eat your snack and enjoy the remarkable view of the Pacific Ocean and the North Coast.

The trail was built and is maintained by the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy and will eventually connect with the California Coastal Trail. The trail entrance is off Highway 1 just south of Surf Motel.

Watershed Kiosk overlooking the Gualala Estuary

Watershed Kiosk overlooking the Gualala Estuary

Another place to stretch your legs is at the Gualala River Watershed Council Kiosk at the south end of town overlooking the Gualala River estuary.

Aside from the view of Gualala Point Regional Park and the estuary of the Gualala River there are two informational panels about the Gualala River Watershed. Find the GRWC Kiosk (as these plaques have been named) on Google maps.

Short Stop in Gualala

Visit the community built Gualala Arts Center. At the Arts Center you’ll find a variety of local art work from sculptures to pastels. The galleries are free, although donations are appreciated.

Redwood sign for Gualala Arts

Entrance to the Gualala Arts Center

You can also walk around back, and follow a few of the short walking trails through the redwoods.

At the very southern end of Gualala turn onto Old State Highway, then veer right at the Gualala Arts sign and the Arts Center will be on your right.

If you’re in Gualala on a Saturday morning between mid-May and late October visit the Gualala Farmer’s Market and pick-up picnic supplies and gifts.

Gualala Farmers Market

Gualala Farmers Market
Photo courtesy of Farmers Market Facebook page

At the market you can find a wide variety of local items from heirloom apples to fresh baked bakery goods and don’t miss out on buying a jar of local honey or jam as supplies are limited.

The market is in the field just off Highway 1 at the south end of town and starts at 9:30am and runs until noontime.

Spend the Day in Gualala

Gualala Point Regional Park on the other side of the river from the town of Gualala is a great place to pack a lunch or snack and take a leisurely walk to the beach. The walk is about a mile round trip, with two trails, one is paved.

View of The Regional Park from the Bluff Top Trail

View of The Regional Park from the Bluff Top Trail

The beach at the end is flanked by the Gualala river estuary and your view from the beach includes the National Monuments that run along the coastline.

Beware! Do not swim in the ocean from this beach and always be on the look-out for sneaker waves. This area of the coast has very strong currents and rip-tides. Bikes and on-leash dogs are welcome.

Go kayaking in the Gualala River estuary. Adventure Rents will rent kayaks on an hourly basis and there’s nothing better than being out on the estuary in the summer.

Odds are that while paddling you’ll spot river otters, pelicans bathing and osprey fishing. If you’re really lucky you might see a bald eagle circling overhead.