A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)


King Ridge Road, Cazadero, CA 95421

Location aliases: None

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Location: King Ridge Rd. begins about a mile north of the town of Cazadero, which is just west of Guerneville.

GPS address: 18000 King Ridge Rd., Cazadero, CA 95421

GPS Coordinates: 38.5412N, 123. 0911W (or 38 32 28N, 123 05 28W) will take you close to the intersection of King Ridge Rd. and Mohrhardt Ridge Rd.

Access: King Ridge Rd. is in the hills, well away from the coast and a fair distance from even the smaller towns in the county. Getting there is easiest if you think first in terms of getting to Cazadero. From there, King Ridge Rd. begins about a mile to the north. Known as a place to find American Dipper.

The best spots to look for American Dipper are from the bridges that cross the creeks (mostly Austin Creek and its tributaries). The best of these is about four miles north of the start of King Ridge Rd. At the start of the road, you will see a small brown sign with yellow lettering that says "U.C.C., Camp Cazadero, 6 Miles" (photo above left). Follow King Ridge Rd. (toward the right). You can stop anywhere that allows views of fast-moving water, but, to find the spot considered best, keep to the right at the first T-Junction, following another sign for U.C.C. Camp Cazadero (photo middle left).

Eventually you will come to another sign (this time blue-green with white lettering) that says "U.C.C., Camp Cazadero, 2 miles" with an arrow pointing left (photo below left). Don't turn left. Continue straight. Just beyond this sign is a bridge that offers good views. You can park by the side of the road about 100 feet beyond the bridge and walk back. The trees in the parking area can be good for the usual woodland species.

Habitats: Streams flanked by mixed forest, redwoods.

Typical Species: Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, California Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Anna’s Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Western Wood Pewee, Oak titmouse, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick’s Wren, Warbling Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Steller’s Jay, Western Scrub-jay, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch

Unusual birds, sightings: Best known as a spot to see American Dipper. Also known as a place to see (or at least hear) Sooty Grouse.

Restroom facilities: None in the immediate vicinity. Closest are probably in the town of Cazadero.

Restaurants Nearby: The town of Cazadero is only a few miles from the start of King Ridge Rd. The town has a few restaurants, but none I can vouch for personally. However, if you are coming from the Santa Rosa area (or returning that way, I highly recommend Aioli, in Forestville (6536 Front St., Forestville, CA 95436, 887-2476) Aioli is known for its excellent fish tacos, among other things, but everything is fresh and made in-house. Otherwise, options will depend on your route. King Ridge Rd. is a fairly isolated spot. Guerneville is the largest nearby town, with a number of restaurants, but, again, none I can vouch for personally. If you are heading toward the coast, see the page for Jenner, Russian River, and Goat Rock for ideas. From that area, there are more options in Bodega Bay if you're headed south along the coast. If you're heading north along the coast, there will be little between Jenner and Gualala. If you plan to stay inland, see pages for Santa Rosa or the Petaluma area for more restaurant ideas. 

Nearby attractions: The hilly roads in this area make for a pleasant drive in themselves--if you're not in a hurry to get anywhere in particular. Otherwise, Guerneville is the center of numerous activities such as bathing, kayaking, and canoeing along the Russian River. Fort Ross is about 45 minutes to the west by the circuitous route of Fort Ross Rd. An easier drive of about the same length requires a return to Guerneville to the south and then heading straight west to the coast before turning north to Fort Ross. See the Jenner. the Russian River, and Goat Rock page for more information about Fort Ross. Near Guerneville is Armstrong Woods, a stand of large old redwoods that makes for a pleasant walk (and some incidental birding as well).

Related bird watching spots: King Ridge Rd. is a fairly isolated spot. There can be good birding at any convenient place to stop along any of the roads in the area. Most recognized locations, away from the mountain roads here will be 30-45 minutes away. People usually go to King Ridge Rd. specifically to find American Dipper.

At the coast, west of Cazadero, are a number of trails along the Pacific that can offer good birding. See the Jenner, Russian River, and Goat Rock page for information about the area. Further south along the coast is Duncan's Landing. Nearby is also Willow Creek Rd., near Jenner. Still further to the south are the various Bodega Bay area birding spots. Inland there isn't much until you get further south. See pages for birding spots in Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, and Petaluma.

Notes: Watch out for poison oak in wooded areas here (and throughout the county).

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps



© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011.

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.