Overview of Fort Ross North

Fort Ross North

California North
USA West


This is the Northern most site at Fort Ross. It is technically more challenging than the Southern site due to the hike and the rocky entry.

Notes from Paul Schmitt to a boater's question: There is a boat launch at Timber Cove a few miles north of Fort Ross State Park. I do not suggest taking a 14 foot aluminum boat as the wind usually blows from the north to the south and picks up late in the morning and really starts blowing hard in the afternoon. An Avon rubber boat is much safer. They will launch the boat for you at Timber cove. I haven't been to Fort Ross for a few years and it seems to me they have stopped all traffic down to the beach. Another outstanding state park with a boat launch is just north of Timber Cove at Salt Point. Timber Cove and Salt Point are usually populated with experienced divers on the week end. Take some time and talk to the divers down on the beach for current conditions and advice. Please note the seas and weather off the north coast of California can be very dangerous, especially if you are not familiar with the area. While diving from shore at the park may be a pain, it is much safer than attempting it in a small boat.

Directions: For a scenic ride, take Highway 116 off 101 to the town Jenner. Head North for about 13 miles, and turn left into the Fort Ross State Historic Park. You'll see this site before you get to the Fort.

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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

11/24/2010 Bluestar (Avg: 3.82 Review) - In the month of November I have visited this site 5 times. I will condense my experiences into this one report. Reading previous reviews, I skipped this site for a long time. On one trip early November I was 'kicked' over here by a Reef Campground park ranger due to big waves there, and I discovered how good this site is. Because it is so protected, this site gets a lot of pressure; maybe that is why some reviewers graded this site very low. There are in fact no abs in plain sight in the north cove. But there are plenty of abs in the kelp under the rocks. There are even big ones here and there. My trip yesterday 11/23/2010 yielded a 9.25' ab weighing 5.4 lbs right from the middle of the cove, in 20' of water. On average I find abs every 3 dive-downs; legal abs about every 9-10 dive-downs. That is pretty good considering I can only hold breath for 30 seconds max and usually only 20 seconds. If I just want to get my limit of legal abs I can do it in 30 minutes here, but I usually spend 2 hours in water hunting for the big 3rd ab. I think I would not enjoy the dives as much if big abs are all over the sea floor in plain view waiting to be picked. I like a little challenge finding them, and battling to dislodge them. I frequently have to give up on big abs that are too hard to get because they are too deep in a hole or sandwiched between two rocks. My only complaint about this site is the big vertical distance to hike. Many times I wanted to tank-dive to spear fish, but after ab dive I just got tired of this climb with gears. I love this site so much, that I have not had any inclination to explore other places.

11/18/2010 Bluestar (Avg: 3.89 Review) - This is still a great place to dive for abs. It is November now and I still limit out in 30 minutes, in 10' of water barely 30 yards from shore inside the cove. Somebody should repair the trail a little bit; a few short stretches are pretty steep and slippery.

08/24/2009 Anonymous (Avg: 2.94 Review) - (No Comment)

01/09/2004 Chip Reuben (Avg: 2.35 Review) - This dive was not worth the effort to get there.

09/28/2003 Paul Schmitt (Avg: 3.60 Review) - I dove this spot 30 years ago with my club, California Ocean Divers. Since then I have found more attractive spots to dive in the area. At that time you could drive down to the beach and park! You didn't have to hike down the the hill. We found the wreck and an anchor. It's like junk all over the bottom. Spearfishing is great for ling cod there. I pulled a 16lb'er out of the north side. Lots of large bolders on the bottom there. The state should rebuild the road down to the beach for access, but I doult it will ever be open to the public like it once was. There are easier access points on the coast just a short distance away like Timber Cove where they have a boat launch for small craft. You can enter there on a good day and take a rubber boat down to Ft. Ross. The area has some of the finest ab diving in the state. This is also a great place to dive by board! Just get away from the cove as it is a little picked over.

08/30/2003 Marc Della Riva (Avg: 3.92 Review) - very enjoyable stay and good diving!

05/01/2002 Valerie Smith (Avg: 2.67 Review) - I did a shore dive here in July 2001. We started the dive at dusk and by the time we finished, it was nightfall. Our aim was to find the old sunken ship (or pieces thereof). Unfortunately, we did not find it. For the most part, it was a very murky dive, not very enjoyable at all. There were beautiful things to see under the kelp, but it was very murky, and I didn't consider it very relaxing. Aside from that, the shore entry left a lot to be desired. When we got out, we were met by rangers who thought we might be ab diving (we were not), and aside from it being a typically chilly night, that was about it for the excitement.

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Site Photos

(what is GPS?)
(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CN0901


Entrance at Fort Ross North 

You can't miss the entrance.




Overview at Fort Ross North 

The North site is against the cliff at the far side of this picture. The trail heading to the water is clearly visible.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: CN0903


Trail Head at Fort Ross North 

Drop your gear off here and park either above or below this spot.

Trail Head



Trail Head at Fort Ross North 

Check out the trail conditions before putting your gear on. You may want to carry it down a piece at a time.

Trail Head



Trail Head at Fort Ross North 

The trail appears to precariously wrap around the cliff, but it is well-maintained and safe.


 Map     Sat
GPS: CN0906


Entry at Fort Ross North 

Carry your gear carefully over the rocks to a suitable entry point, and slip in!

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Fort Ross North  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  2.86
Bottom Conditions:  3.29
Reef Conditions:  3.57
Animal Life:  3.29
Plant Life:  3.86
Facilities:  2.57
Solitude 3.43
Roads:  3.14
*Site Average:  3.31

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.14
Beginner Scuba:  3.00
Intermediate Scuba:  3.29
Advanced Scuba:  3.14
Night diving Scuba:  2.71

Number of reviews for this site: 7


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