In the heart of the redwood forests of coastal Sonoma County in Northern California, Cazadero invites relaxation amidst these majestic trees, which surely have a spirit of their own. Located in the Russian River area, yet not entirely of the Russian River area, Cazadero California is a place of utmost beauty. With no hotels, no resorts, just scattered pet-friendly vacation home rentals and one small inn, Cazadero reveals its charms to only a few visitors at a time.
The tiny town of Cazadero draws its life from both the redwood forests and magnificent Austin Creek, with its quiet pools overhung with graceful bay laurel trees, meandering to meet the Russian River. The hillsides, lush with ferns, cascade hundreds of waterfalls in the winter and the creek roars to life. In summer, the sun warms a kinder, gentler creek, with its sand and gravel beaches, wading stretches, and swimming holes.
Dining & Groceries | top
Have coffee and a scone at Raymond's Bakery: This bakery and coffee shop at 5400 Cazadero Highway, just down the road from downtown Cazadero, is a surprise in the middle of the redwood forest. Raymond's serves a variety of focaccia, French and artisan breads, cakes, tarts, scones, cookies, and assorted other pastries. Daily offerings are at the whim of the baker and you will probably meet some interesting locals hanging out here.
Forget the milk? Want to rent a video, try Cazadero wine, find a gift for someone back home? Cazadero General Store is a downhome, heart-of-the-community, kind of place that you must visit even if you didn't forget the milk.
This store in downtown Cazadero is 100 years old, with vintage charm that includes beautifully worn wooden floors. Its friendly owners serve up an amazing variety of both everyday and luxury items. Shop for Cazadero wines, some so scarce and so fine, they are almost impossible to find elsewhere: Flowers, Wild Hog, W.H. Smith, Annapolis and David Hirsch. Groceries range from fresh produce, dairy products, and deli meats and cheeses to frozen Harris Ranch steaks and organic chicken. You can buy Adam's organic coffee and grind it on the premises and there are shelves full of organic and gourmet food items, including bulk herbs. There's Jelly Bellies, truffles, ice cream, bread, muffins. and rock candy, as well as a complete line of drugstore items. If you forgot the charcoal, it's here. Need a birthday card, it's here. Run out of toothpaste, it's here. There are a few gift items such as Cazadero General Store T-shirts and old-fashioned toys such as tin tops, jack in the boxes, and kites. Open Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 8:00pm, Saturday, 9:00am to 8:00pm. 6125 Cazadero Highway, Cazadero. 707.632.5287
Have brunch or dinner at CazSonoma Inn:
The restaurant, featuring a view of a waterfall, pond and gardens, is open from May through Thanksgiving, serving dinner from 5:30pm until 8:30pm and Sunday brunch from 10 am until 2 pm. The menu changes to reflect the freshest California fare possible.
The dinner prices include a four course meal featuring soup/appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert, as well as coffee or tea. Sunday brunch offers fresh fruit, muffins, yogurt, and grill selections such as Eggs Benedict and omelets, for $15. CazSonoma Inn also has four rooms in the inn, in addition to two cottages, which can be rented by the night, two night minimum in high season. To find the Inn, turn left onto Kidd Creek Road, which is 2.6 miles up Cazadero Highway from River Road, and continue about a mile to the end of the road.
The Blue Heron is a turn-of-the-century restored tavern with great food and live music Wednesday-Sunday. The bar is where Cazadero locals hang outand an interesting, eclectic bunch are they.
Cape Fear Café is across the road; a full-scale restaurant with an outside dining patio. The food here is truly terrific.
Outdoor Activities | top
Watch Redwoods Being Milled: Berry's Saw Mill is found at Highway 116, along the Russian River, just past Cazadero Highway. At Berry's, you can watch the fascinating process of redwood trees becoming lumber. Free, self guided tour. Open Mon - Fri 7:45am - 4:30pm; Sat 8am - 12pm.
Need a lawyer? Maureen Berry, J.D. has her law office here too!
Admire Rhododendrons: Each April through May, right here in Cazadero, up the coast from where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean, these spectacular flowers burst into bloom and color the deep green of the forest with brilliant pink blossoms. Ferns carpet the canyons where seasonal streams abound. In addition to the rhododendrons, other understory plants include salals, pacific wax myrtle, and California huckleberry. This pristine reserve contains 317 acres of second-growth redwood, Douglas fir, grand firs, tanoaks, and a plethora of rhododendrons. There are five miles of hiking trails through the quiet forest with a short loop trail that leads through clusters of rhododendrons. No dogs or bikes are allowed on the trail. Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve is adjacent to Salt Point State Park, 20 mi. north of Jenner on Hwy 1 in Cazadero.
Get Married!? CazSonoma Inn (see above) provides a beautiful site for weddings and so does St. Colman's Church with its outdoor amphitheater in a beautiful grove of the lush redwood forest (left).
Get Out in the Great Outdoors!
Go Bicycling: Cazadero is lucky enough to host some of the best bicycling you'll find anywhere. From Cazadero, a cyclist can pass through vineyards, along Russian River beaches, under old-growth redwood forests, and ride the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway. Off the main thoroughfares of Cazadero, there are many peaceful, but challenging roads that seem built for road cycling. Amateur cyclists rub shoulders with competitors practicing for the Tour de France, and the King Ridge Gran Fondo is held here.
You can buy the Sonoma County Bicycle Map online here: http://bikesonoma.org/map.html or in most local bike shops.
Wine Country Bikes says: "The best cycling map of the area is now without a doubt the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition Map. Not only is it perfect for ride planning, it helps support the non-profit coalition in it's efforts to encourage and improve bicycling in Sonoma County. The map is easy to read, very durable and indicates traffic volume, which roads have shoulders and the approximate grades of the hills.
It covers all of Sonoma County and into Napa Valley to the east as far as the Silverado Trail."
Cazadero Bicycling Links:
Ft. Ross: Fort Ross was established in 1812 by Russians as an outpost for sea otter hunters and a permanent trade base. Today, visitors can walk through the reconstructed fort and visitor 's center. Check the website for educational festivals and events. Follow 116 west, then follow signs to Hwy 1 North towards Jenner and Fort Ross. The park is 12 miles north of Jenner on Hwy 1. The park grounds are open half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset each day. Fort Compound, Visitor Center and Bookstore are open daily 10:00am to 4:30pm. 707-847-3286.
Salt Point State Park: With 20 miles of hiking trails, over six miles of rugged coastline, and an underwater park, you can enjoy a variety of picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, skin and SCUBA diving, and camping. Located just north of Jenner on Hwy 1. Park hours are sunrise to sunset. Visitor Center is open April through October, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm. 707-847-3221.
Play Tennis or Basketball: Courts are located in town, directly across from the firehouse.
Hit the Playground: There's a small playground next to the tennis courts.
Go Kayaking: Nearby Duncans Mills offers kayak rentals for superb boating on the scenic lower Russian River. This safe outdoor adventure requires no experience and Russian River Outfitters will make sure you have safe equipment and instruction.
Shopping | top
Go Shop or Eat at Duncans Mills: Just a minute's drive west on River Road from Cazadero Highway, this little community once revolved around redwood lumber mills operated by Samuel and Alexander Duncan in the late 1800s. In 1877, the North Pacific Gauge Railroad completed its tracks to Duncans Mills and hauled out much of the redwood lumber used to build San Francisco. Redwood was also transported south by ship.
For a while, Duncans Mills was a lively destination for Bay Area tourists who traveled to the town via two daily passenger trains. During its heyday, the town had four hotels, restaurants and a saloon to accommodate visitors. Starting in the 1920s, the increased popularity of the automobile began to diminish the number of train riders. As this trend continued, Duncans Mills began to decline and it eventually fell into disrepair. The last train rolled out of the town in 1935.
Fortunately for modern day visitors, this was not the end of the town. Duncans Mills has been restored to closely match its earlier appearance and it's easy to imagine a train chugging into town with a load of city slickers from San Francisco. The railroad depot has been turned into a museum with exhibits of tools, historic photographs, railroad memorabilia and items from Duncans Mills sawmills, with a few historic rail cars standing outside.
Most of the other buildings have been revived as shops, galleries or restaurants that make browsing in Duncans Mills an enjoyable experience. There is a charming general store with deli, a candy store, a coffee shop, a terrific wine and cheese tasting shop (with a Friday evening happy hour) as well as numerous gift shops and galleries. Visit duncansmills.net for a list of Duncans Mills businesses, as well as some history.
Wine Tasting of Sonoma County: Featuring wines from small, family owned wineries in Sonoma and neighboring counties. This wonderful store offers a wide variety of economical wines for everyday drinking as well as exceptional wine for special occasions or for cellaring.
Wine | top
Or you can just BE
Take a look at the Cazadero vacation home rentals where you can enjoy the Cazadero California experience with all the amenities of home and then some...all with hot tubs*, all in the redwoods, all beautiful, all dog friendly.
*except Lemondrop (which has a sauna)