Although most visitors never explore past the beach itself, Big River is actually the gateway to one of Mendocino’s most beautiful wonderlands. 7,400 acres of watershed along the river are now protected land, and open to public use via the Big River Haul Road. This is an excellent road for hiking or bicycling, and although it isn’t paved, the early parts of the trail are quite level and navigable.
The first seven miles of the trail are suitable for people at all levels of fitness, but once you pass the fork at around seven miles, the path becomes a big more rugged. Nonetheless, if you have a full day hike in you, and want to see a local favorite spot, continue left at the fork for another few miles and you’ll arrive at Lily’s – a clothing-optional swimming hole. This trail is also one of the best blackberry picking opportunities on the coast, starting in mid-summer.