The road that winds along the coast from Sunset Bay to Cape Arago is part of the Pacific Coast trail. The forests are thick and lush with old growth Douglas-fir, spruce, and hemlock, with huge skunk cabbage plants in the streams. At almost every curve in the road a trail disappears into the forest. Openings in the trees reveal the coast in all its glory, with the only view of the Cape Arago Lighthouse along this road.
The road leads to the Simpson Reef Overlook and views of Shell Island where there are huge sea lions, elephant seals, and harbor seals in a protected world. Again, the trails are good, the signs offer great information about what you are seeing, and the views are fabulous. Gray whales migrate along the coast and are visible here but on this day the winds were whipping up the waves to such an extent that all we could see were whitecaps.
At the end of the road is Cape Arago State Park, with a steep but good trail leading down to the tidepools on the beach. The tide was out when we were there, and there were some green anemones and red seaweeds that were nice. Somewhat appalled at all the dead crabs lying around, and later discovered thanks to another sign posted at Sunset Bay that they weren’t dead crabs at all, but just the shells of crabs who shed their outer husks like snakes. What a relief to find that out.