Coastwalk originated 28 years ago, at the instigation of longtime coastal activists Bill and Lucy Kortum. They proposed a trek along the 55–mile Sonoma County coast to draw awareness of public access and coastal preservation needs, and to publicize the fact that the Coastal Act of 1976 called for a continuous coastal trail the length of California, connecting cities and towns with natural resources and coastal parks.
That first Coastwalk was planned and led by Tom and Vivian McFarling, local environmental activists. It was so popular that it was repeated again, and became an annual event in Sonoma County, then spreading to other counties.
The leaders discovered their impact: Coastwalks shifted walkers’ attitudes – from thinking about the beach as a place to read or play volleyball for the day – to valuing the coastline as a critical habitat uniquely affected by tidal rhythms and time.
By 1990 longtime volunteer Richard Nichols became Executive Director of Coastwalk and with the help of his wife Brenda, Coastwalk grew and prospered, eventually putting on walks in each of the 15 coastal counties.
Today, with the help of dedicated volunteers, Coastwalk continues its legacy of introducing thousands of people to the natural and human history of the spectacular California coastal landscape and helping to promote its conservation.
Our Mission Statement conveys the depth of our work. The walks are just one part of what we do, yet all of our efforts are sustained by the passion and support of our thriving community of walk volunteers and participants. We hope you will experience a Coastwalk, and join this group of stewards who love and protect the coast.