For a town of just 136 people, Jenner packs in a lot.
Since it’s located at the mouth of the Russian River, water activities are a natural and a kayak is the best way to see the town and the beautiful surroundings. Grab a cup of coffee and one of the delicious, house-made pastries at Café Aquatica and walk across Highway 1 to Watertreks EcoTours to rent a kayak. The put-in is right back across the highway and from there you can paddle to where the river empties into the Pacific, keeping a respectful distance from the colony of harbor seals lolling about on the water’s edge. There are few places where you can observe these guys this close in the wild. The beach is also home to driftwood structures constructed by beachcombers with a penchant for building ephemeral structures made from the sun bleached, water-borne logs tossed ashore. Come back in a week and they will likely be gone.
"A kayak is the best way to see the town and the beautiful surroundings."
Turn back around and paddle along Penny Island, you might catch the sounds of acoustic music emanating from Café Aquatica’s riverfront stage/perch above the river. Paddle on and pass under the span of Highway 1, gazing up as it crosses the river. The fog often clears the further upriver you go. Keep your eyes and ears open for ospreys, sea hawks that call this place home.
"You might catch the sounds of acoustic music emanating from Café Aquatica’s riverfront stage"
For a different kind of water adventure, the mouth of the Russian River can produce a rare but world-class, barreling wave that breaks in just a few feet of water when the tide, sand and swells line up just right. Whether you surf or not, it’s a sight to behold. It’s an expert-only spot so keep a safe distance from the steep beach and powerful shorebreak that can knock you off your feet. Getting to the bottom of the trails that wind down from pullouts on the PCH to see the waves up close is half the fun.
"It’s a sight to behold."
One of Jenner’s marque attractions is Goat Rock Beach. Other than the ocean itself (don’t swim here BTW; dangerous currents) the main attraction is the namesake rock, a towering block of a rock island that was once part of the mainland. Walk beyond Goat Rock and up on the blufftops and you can pick up the start (or end) of the wonderful Kortum Trail, a 4.6 mile path that winds its way along the coast with ocean views that go on forever.
"A 4.6 mile path that winds its way along the coast with ocean views that go on forever."
For another hike, travel a bit further north to a pullout off the highway and take a slightly less vertiginous trail down to twin coves separated by a rocky spit of land. It’s a favorite for seaweed foragers, spearfishermen (and women) or just those looking for solace amid breathtaking beauty.
"It’s not only the best view of Jenner, it’s one of the best views in Northern California."
Jenner’s main attraction is arguably the Jenner Headlands Preserve, 5,600 acres of stunning, panoramic ocean, river and mountain views. The trails begin at Highway 1 and rise up across coastal prairie into oak woodland and redwoods and then back down again. It’s not only the best view of Jenner, it’s one of the best views in Northern California.