View of Russian River as it meets the Pacific Ocean

One of the better hikes in the area is out along the hills at the mouth of the Russian River. The views of the Pacific and the River entering the sea at Jenner are spectacular. The hike begins at Pomo Canyon Campground which is at the time of this writing, closed for budgetary reasons. If you have not yet visited this camp, you are in for a treat. Pomo is one of the really pretty camps in Sonoma County. If you like Schoolhouse, you will like Pomo. It’s tiny and full of towering Redwoods. Corina, Colton and I recently hiked one of the two trails with some friends and had a great time. The first part of this hike has quite an incline so I’m recommending this for healthy people familiar to hiking. It is well worth the effort.

map to Pomo Canyon hike
Pomo Canyon Trail sign

Begin your day by heading west from the campground on River Road which becomes HWY 116 after Guerneville. The trip to the coast is 17 miles and a pretty drive along the river through the small towns of Monte Rio and Duncan's Mills. When you hit HWY 1 at the end of the road, turn south which is a left and pass over the Russian River. Take the first left on Willow Creek road for 2.6 miles. Park outside the gate and your hike begins!

Ferns on hiking trail

Walk past the gate along the gravel drive into the campground about ¼ mile. The David Joseph Memorial Pomo Canyon Trail is clearly marked as you begin your ascent. The trail climbs right up and through the 13 or so primitive campsites and Redwood grove. I love the Ferns and Sorrel that are one of the few plants able to thrive in the heavy shade of Redwood trees. As you continue to climb, the trees change to Fir, Oak, Madrone and Bay before finally turning to the open grassy headlands of the Sonoma Coast.

Hikers on Pomo Canyon Trail

Just around the point you break through the trees and into open space, you will have a decision to make. The Pomo Canyon Trail continues on the right and the Red Hill Trail is to the left. These two trails will meet again at the top of the bluff and you can loop back to your car at the next junction or continue down towards the Pacific and beautiful Shell beach. On our hike, we chose the Red Hill trail and continued up and then along the bluff which looks out over the ocean and the mouth of the Russian as it reaches its destination. 

Colton, the camp kid at Schoolhouse Canyon hiking the Pomo Canyon Trail

Your destination however is still a bit of a hike back down into the canyon and finally to the well-deserved snacks waiting for you in your car.  

Epic views are the reward for hiking


One of the campers of last summer left behind this camping list. Corina found it in a campsite and took a picture. I love this. Its so personal and organized. It makes me smile to think about all the things this family had to plan and do just to come camping at Schoolhouse.

Enjoy -


How about  scenic drive along Dutch Bill Creek, through a couple of small towns, ending up at a bakery that makes a sticky bun to die for? Begin your drive by leaving the campground to the right and drive River Road to the west through Guerneville and out to Monte Rio, which is about 7 miles. At Monte Rio, head left over the old train trestle bridge that crosses the river and out Bohemian HWY.

Continue along Dutch Bill Creek through the hamlet of Camp Meeker and into the eclectic, vintage little town of Occidental. This is a great place to get out 

and stretch your legs, have a coffee at one of the shops or maybe a pint and a bite at the little pub which is family friendly. If you do have kids with you, be sure to stop by the toy store which is a really good one. There is also a nice shop that sells pottery and other small pieces from local artisans. The two Italian restaurants which seem to duel each other from opposite sides of the main drag are legendary. Negri’s on one side and the Union Hotel on the other. They have each been in business forever and have huge following for their family style Italian dinners. Lots of fun but be sure to go when you are hungry as they serve big plates. Continue on Bohemian out of Occidental to the little town of Freestone. Here you will find something truly special. 

Wild Flour Bread is a destination in itself. They create 10 to 12 varieties of bread daily; each is world class and baked in a wood fired brick oven. Go for the sticky bun and have it cut into small pieces to share - they are huge. The buns are like none you’ve had before - sweet but not too sweet, gooey yet crisp in parts and strangely seeming somehow healthy. The coffee is good and strong and perfect to wash it all down.


From here you can head back to the camp one of two ways. East will take you through Sebastopol and out 116 back to the river. West will take you out through the little town of Bodega before hitting Hwy 1. Here, head north through Bodega Bay and on up to the river just below Jenner and back home on 116.


I thought it might be fun for you to read some of the thank you notes that are occasionally left for us. They are beautiful and personal and so appreciated. The kind words are one of the things that make all this work worth it to me.



I get so many great people here at Schoolhouse. 

Many find that the tent becomes an extension of their personalities. Over the past couple of summers or so, I’ve been collecting pictures of some of the better tents that have visited the campground. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have.

This is one I occasionally see in the camp. It is made by Kodiak and it is one of my favorites. With classic design and good looks, this is what I would buy if I was in the market for a new tent. Ultra high quality and very heavy duty, it’s pricey and worth it. 

My photo does not do this tent justice. The structure was truly epic. It is one of the biggest tents I have seen and made by North Face. The tent had a presence that is hard to describe. If I had to guess, I’d say it as about 15 or so feet in diameter and looked extremely complicated to set up. It was definitely overkill so I stopped by site 8 to visit. It was just a guy camping with his small family and even he admitted that the tent was a bit much for a weekend camping trip. Apparently he worked at North Face and one of the perks was access to high-end equipment. The name of the tent was Base Camp or something like that and we both laughed when he told me what it was worth. Shockingly expensive, this is the best of the best if you are waiting to climb Everest.

Here is one that I really liked. It was long and almost like a tunnel inside. I cant remember the make, may have been Marmot.

This little tent clips to the tail end of a Prius and turned the car into a hybrid vehicle-tent-gas-battery thing. Love it!

These little Marmot tents looked so cute in site 2. Although the photo does not show it, there were actually three tents and three ladies and all were about the same size. The tents that is, not the ladies.

Awesome little vintage trailer with its original circus style attached tent. This one got lots of attention while at Schoolhouse.

This vintage Range Rover looks like it is ready for the Australian Outback! The accordion tent is attached by a hinge on one side and pops up to create one of the coolest rigs to visit the camp last Summer. This is one I really wish I had myself. I later learned that this vehicle / pop up combination is highly sought after and pretty rare.

Can you say tent envy?

This is your classic vintage Coleman style house tent. I see these once in a while and occasionally get to see a original still in use. I once talked with an older man that had been using his for over fifty years! I’m guessing most modern tents are not going to last that long. 

I get a lot of Europeans that come to tour California and the west.There are a few bay area companies that convert vans into camping rigs that work very well for a couple or small family. I love the Smokey the Bear motif on this one.

Some tents are just plain big. Warehouse stores are flooding the market with tents as big as houses. I’m not a huge fan of these and they often do not last. If you choose one of these monsters, be aware that many sites at Schoolhouse will not work for you. Talk with me about it first if you want to make sure the size will work in your site.

Schoolhouse is not a trailer park, it is a tent campground. A car camping experience. It’s small so trailers typically don’t work well here but I wanted to show some of the rigs with a small footprint that have visited and fit right in. These next few are classic beauty.

Teardrops are so perfect for a couple, I don’t know why more people don’t have them. This beautiful little tow behind is actually new and made by a company called Silver Shadow.

The canned ham on the left is a real one. Vintage and restored. You can buy one new however and they look just as good. Shasta has recently released a re-issue of their 1961 classic.

I’m a sucker for the smaller Airstreams. They are so classy and even though this one is new, it is a nod to the past, just like Schoolhouse.

Could a vintage Westy be any cooler than this one? It has an original tent that attaches to the side creating a large indoor space. The whole thing screams 1960’s. It’s interesting to me that the people who buy a Westfalia always seem happy. They love the busses and often seem to be on some sort of adventure. Even if it is just a weekend outing.

Schoolhouse Canyon Campground 12600 River Rd. Guerneville, CA 707.869.2311

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