Glass Beach – From Trash To Treasure
Search for rare ruby reds or sapphire gems from apothecary bottles. Snap a photo, but leave the glass behind for others to discover. A note from California State Parks regarding Glass Beach at MacKerricher State Park: “All park cultural features are protected by law and may not be removed or disturbed, including glass found at Glass Beach.”
There are actually three glass beaches — all former city trash dump sites — that cough up beautiful sea glass.
What To Do: Search for rare ruby reds (from pre-1967 auto tail lights) or sapphire gems from apothecary bottles. Snap a photo, but leave the glass behind for others to discover.
Local Lore: From 1906 to 1967, everything from cars to batteries to bottles, cans and appliances were unceremoniously pushed over the cliffs into the ocean — a common practice of seaside cities for centuries. Mother Nature responded to this abuse with a nice surprise in the form of smooth, colored sea glass treasure in a rainbow of colors.
Best Picnic Spot: On the rocks and cliffs overlooking Glass Beach #3 (the most northern of the three beaches; located in MacKerricher State Park).
Getting There: From Highway 1, turn west on Elm Street (Denny's is on the corner) and drive a few blocks to Glass Beach Drive. Park at the intersection and walk down to the beach.
Located in Northern California's Mendocino County there is a skunk running through the redwood forest, but this isn't any skunk, it's the world famous Skunk Train. The California redwoods, pristine coastline, and award winning vineyards are all a part of the landscape of what makes Mendocino County such an amazing place and home to this 131-year-old train.
Regardless of your departure point it's the occasional whistles as your train chugs through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train follows the coastal "Redwood Route" as it has since 1885. It is the towering trees, a glimpse of a deer drinking from the Noyo River, an isolated fisherman's cabin peeking from the forest, and the notion that you have left the rest of the world behind that draw people to the Skunk Train.
The Noyo River Canyon
Departing from Fort Bragg, the first few miles run alongside the Pudding Creek estuary, where common wildlife sightings include blue heron, egrets, osprey, ducks, and the occasional lounging turtle. After passing through Tunnel No. 1, the Skunk Train snakes its way along the Noyo River, zig-zagging through the redwood-thick Noyo River Canyon.
Coastal Range and Redwoods
Departing from Willits and traveling to Northspur, your train will climb the Eastern slope of the California Coast Range, cutting through it at Tunnel No. 2 (Summit) before descending into the Noyo River Canyon. This is the mountainous part of our railroad line, in which 8.5 miles of track cover a straight-line distance of less than one mile.
The Coastal Trail
Phase I of the Coastal Trail project opened the North Coastal Trail on January 31, 2015. The South Coastal Trail opened on December 1, 2015. This phase of the project created 4.5 miles of trail on 82 acres of the old Georgia-Pacific mill site, restored over 20 acres of land to its former natural beauty, and provided three restrooms, two parking lots, 14 interpretive signs, two welcome plazas, and several unique benches designed by local artists. The second phase of the Coastal Trail will provide a half mile of trail on a ten-acre site near the Georgia Pacific mill pond, five acres of restoration, benches, interpretive panels and stairs to the beach at Fort Bragg Landing.
Coastal National Monument
Some might say we have rocks in our head in Fort Bragg. More like rocks on our mind – that's because thousands of them grace our beautiful coast. Fort Bragg is an official Gateway to the California Coastal National Monument. Here's how the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior describes the Monument:
“Waves explode onto offshore rocks, spraying whitewater into the air. Sea lions bark as they “haul out” of the surf onto the rocks, and a whirlwind of birds fly above. These amazing rocks and small islands are part of the California Coastal National Monument, a spectacular interplay of land and sea.”
We couldn't have said it better. But you may be able to, after you've enjoyed this simple pleasure.
The Stats: Located off the 1,100 miles of California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument comprises more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles between Mexico and Oregon. The scenic qualities and critical habitat of this public resource are protected as part of the National Landscape Conservation System , administered by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior.
What the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Gateway Status Means – California Coastal National Monument Gateways are sections of the California coast that serve as focal points and visitor contact locations for the National Monument. Gateways can be areas, towns, cities, or communities that have infrastructure and interest in providing visitor information and services. The BLM is developing Gateway partnerships that follow the principles of geotourism, that is – tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
Westport – along a 15-mile stretch north, between Fort Bragg and the tiny village of Westport, are seemingly endless beauty spots featuring the CCNM. At Pacific Star Winery, a couple of miles south of Westport, you can even enjoy wine tasting with your view.
Seaside - About six miles north of Fort Bragg on your way to Westport, is a tiny popular beach with lots of sand for play of all kinds and beautiful big rocks. It's a photographer's delight.
Ten Mile Beach – this is 10 miles of beach, cliffs and hidden covers that stretch from Downtown Fort Bragg Ca north through MacKerricher State Park. Rocks, island and associated wildlife — including tide pool animals — are abundant.
Pudding Creek Beach – a beach for all seasons, a place for romance when its deserted and a place to run and play on sunny holiday weekends. The cliffs above provide a bird's eye view of the monument.
Glass Beach – well-known for the beautiful sea glass found here, the rock formations are just as awesome.
Pomo Bluffs – all around Pomo Bluffs, a city park overlooking the entrance to Noyo Harbor, are great examples of what the CCNM protects.
Hare Creek – owned by Mendocino Land Trust, you get a small beach, which is a popular surf spot. Perfect for a picnic and rock watching. Getting there can be tricky: From Highway 1 go west on Ocean View Drive, left to south end of college parking lot. Follow yellow rope and post fence to trailhead. 1/2 mile to secret beach. Louisa Morris at Mendocino Land Trust can help with more complete directions.
Jug Handle State Reserve Beach – this small beach is the perfect spot to watch waves crashing against huge craggy coastal remnants jutting out of the ocean. A spectacular display on big wave days.
Caspar Beach – just across past Highway 20 at the south end of Fort Bragg is a Mendocino Land Trust property popular with surfers. Don't forget the hunt for birds and other wildlife between viewing the surf action.
Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park – features a lighthouse, two museums and 300 acres of nature preserve with some of best spots for watching giant storm driven waves crashing on our monument.
Agate Cove – is just on the north side of Mendocino Headlands State Park. It's one of the real beauty spots on the Mendocino Coast; almost surreal during storms with waves and rocks battling for dominance.
Elk, California — without a doubt, Elk rivals Big Sur in spectacular scenery and big views. It's located about 25 miles south of Fort Bragg, Ca on the Mendocino Coast.
Navarro Beach, Navarro River Redwoods State Park – at the end of 16 miles of virgin redwood forest, at the mouth of the Navarro River, is Navarro Beach, where you'll find camping facilities, great views and, of course, more of our CCNM.
Botanical Gardens47 acres of ocean-front gardens
This rare jewel, located just south of the city of Fort Bragg, boasts 47 acres of ocean-front gardens, forests, streams, fern canyons and bluffs. Visitors will be enthralled by the diversity and tranquility of the Botanical Gardens, where you can find something for every outdoor enthusiast.
Manicured Gardens, dense pine forest, diverse plant collections and flower filled bluffs are just some of what awaits you when you spend a day exploring this coastal gem. Enjoy the Cliff House, located on the bluffs, where you can watch for migrating whales and crashing ocean waves along the bluffs.
Your dog is welcome with you on a leash, but please clean up afterwards. Stop in our Retail Nursery where you can purchase plants as seen in the Gardens and the Gift Shop to pick up your special treasure to take home. Finish your day at Rhody's Cafe where you can get fresh made sandwiches and salads, homemade soup and desserts, coffee drinks and Cowlick's ice cream.
The 50,000-acre Jackson State Forest –- more or less surrounding Fort Bragg on the east — is a forest heavily logged over the past 150 years. Still, there are lots of remaining California redwood forest to explore, including some old growth redwoods. A newly-developed timber harvest plan, currently being implemented, will go a long way toward protecting these California Redwoods areas for future generations.
Michael Potts of Mendocino Walks has detailed 11 redwood hikes, including instructions for finding the trailheads, maps for navigating the trails, their degree of difficulty and trail mileage. Here is a description of those hikes with links to MendoWalks.org trail pages for more information.
EASY TO MODERATE WALKS (flat with some hills or easy hilly terrain)
•Hare Creek – logging road, not a loop. Appropriate for biking, hiking and horseback riding. Easy, almost flat. 8-11 miles.
•Bunker Gulch to Upper Hare Creek – Old logging road. Not a loop. Appropriate for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Fairly easy, almost flat, total elevation is 50 feet. 6.2 miles round trip.
•Forest History Trail – Single track trail. Moderately easy. 4 miles. This is a beautiful, narrow trail that is somewhat hilly but well graded and has benches along the uphill portions for resting. There are 45 trail markers.
•Berry Gulch – Part single track and part old logging road. Loop or shuttle. Easy 6 miles.
•Indian Springs – Logging road with gradual elevation of 400 feet. Moderately easy. 7 Miles round trip.
•Chamberlain Creek Trail and Camellia Trail – Single track trail on fairly hilly, but easy terrain. Moderately easy. Very gradual hills except last section of switchbacks on return to Road 200. Approximately 3 miles round trip.
•Caspar Creek North Fork – Single track trail in very good condition. Moderately easy except for steep climb of 600 feet at the end on return. 4+ miles round trip (2 miles and 3852 feet from START to NFC gauging station at the south end of the creek).
MODERATE TO DIFFICULT WALKS (due to elevation gain and length)
•Brandon Gulch to Volcano Point – This is a loop trail that is appropriate for mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders. Motorized vehicles are not permitted the year around. Moderately difficult due to its length and elevation change. 8 miles and 2031 foot gain.
•Thompson Gulch and Manley Gulch Trails – Thompson Gulch trail is old logging road and Manley Gulch is single track trail. Moderate, several steep climbs. 5 miles.
•Trestle Trail – Single track trail following the North Fork of the South Fork of the Noyo River. Moderately difficult. Very hilly terrain from 400 to 1000 feet in elevation. Several creeks to jump or ford, depending upon the time of year. Lots of poison oak. 8. 4 miles round trip if doubled back. 6.2 miles one way if shuttle is set up.
•Park Gulch Trail – Part single track and part climb of old logging road. Loop. Moderate. 5.5 miles round trip.
Guest House Museum
The Historic Guest House Museum in Downtown Fort Bragg
25 years ago, the State of California declared that the Guest House Museum in Downtown Fort Bragg a point of historical interest.
It was built mostly from coastal redwood in 1892 for Tom Johnson, a family business partner in Fort Bragg Redwood Company, as his private residence. All wood used in the structure was milled by Fort Bragg Redwood Company.
Before the house was finished and by direction of the company's founder, Charles Russell Johnson, it became the lumber company's home for senior officials and VIP guest visitors to the Fort Bragg mill and logging sites.
Fort Bragg Redwood Company became Union Lumber Company in 1905 and the Guest House continued in its role until ULCo sold to Boise-Cascade Corporation, and later still to Georgia-Pacific Corp. G-P donated the home to the City of Fort Bragg on closing their Fort Bragg plant in the 1990s.
Today, the Mill Site is being developed with a number of uses in mind, including business and wildlife viewing. A coastal trail is being built will soon give the public access to the site.
C.V. Starr Center
There are few places in California that can brag about a recreation center the size and scope of Fort Bragg's C.V. Starr / Spath Aquatic Center. There is an eight-lane pool, workout areas, fitness equipment, water slides, and meeting rooms for community events and group gatherings.
Opened in 2009, the C.V. Starr Center is a destination for families, couples and singles to swim, workout, or take classes in everything from pilates to kayaking.
Yes, you read that right: Fort Bragg's own Jeff Laxier and Cate Hawthorne of Liquid Fusion Kayaking give lessons in the “lazy” moving river all under the C.V. Starr roof. But there's more, including after-school classes for kids and swim lessons for adults.
Just outside the building are picnic benches, a dog park and a skateboard park and a petanque court.