Albion’s wild beauty starts at Navarro Beach, where the Navarro River meets the Pacific on a serene, sandy beach. The estuary is a favorite place to canoe and kayak, and is also full of history. In the late 19th century, there was a bustling mill town here called Navarro. Now all that remains is Captain Fletcher’s Inn, which once housed workers and visitors, and the mill manager’s house, elegant enough to lure the manager and his family to leave the comforts of civilization to live and work in the wild west. The buildings can be toured during the annual Navarro-by-the-Sea Day in early June, but are otherwise closed to visitors.
Continuing north, you wend your way up the steep, curving road, with beautiful views at every turn. A couple of miles north of Navarro Beach is Navarro Point Preserve, a sweeping expanse of coastal prairie which is drifted with wildflowers in the spring and affords a clear panorama of the Pacific all year round. A trail loops through the fields toward the bluffs overlooking the ocean.
Like Navarro Beach, the Albion Flats was once the site of a sawmill, complete with hotel and company housing, but no trace of this long-ago industry remains today. Also like Navarro Beach, the Flats is an estuary, where the Albion River meets the sea. It is an excellent place to kayak, and if you aren’t quite ready to go it alone or left your kayak at home, Kayak Mendocino does tours here as well as at Van Damme State Beach in Little River. The Albion River is home to ospreys, herons, kingfishers, and seals, and is bordered by lush forest. There are miles of peaceful waters to explore.
From the Flats, you will have an excellent view of the iconic Albion Bridge, the only wooden bridge still standing on legendary Highway One. The bridge was made from salvaged wood in 1944 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. Drive across it to wrap up your day at the warm and welcoming Ledford House Bar, watching the sun set into the ocean with an artisan cocktail in your hand from the bar or the deck outside. Life is good.