Legend has it that Schooner Gulch got its name from a story in which a schooner was sighted, one evening, stranded on the beach in the mouth of the gulch, yet in the morning showed no evidence of being there.
The state beach is located three miles south of Point Arena on the Mendocino South Coast, where Schooner Gulch Road intersects State Highway 1. A small parking area with two trailheads is on the west side of the highway. The southern trail leads to Schooner Gulch Beach and the northern trail provides access to Bowling Ball Beach.
Historically, Schooner Gulch is within the territory of the coastal branch of the Central Pomo Indians which extends from the mouth of the Navarro River to the mouth of the Gualala River. This area was frequented by Russians and native Alaskans hunters as early as 1812, and by Mexican land owners in the 1840's.
John Galloway was the first recorded occupant of the area. John was born in Scotland and occupied an area of Schooner Gulch between 1866 and 1868, which was largely used as a milling operation for timber. Logging continued at Schooner Gulch until the late 1800's, through various other milling operations.
Another interesting part of the history of Schooner Gulch is the Galloway School. The school land was donated by John and Margaret Galloway. Galloway School operated for 62 years, from 1874 to 1936 with never more than 40 students. In 1940 the school lot was sold, and land around the lot was farmed by the Nobles family until 1986 at which time the land was sold to the State of California.