MacKerricher State Park has been one of our favorite Northern California destinations for years. We’ve camped here several times and absolutely love it. After visiting Pomo Bluffs Park, Noyo Headlands Park, the Guest House Museum, and Glass Beach, at low tide we headed over to MacKerricher to go tidepooling at Laguna Point.
The main road through the park was closed due to winter storm damage, so we couldn’t park at the Laguna Point Boardwalk trailhead, instead we had to park at Lake Cleone and walk in. It added about three-quarters of a mile to our walk, but none of us minded much because the walk followed the beautiful Main Beach.
We spent hours exploring the rocky tidepools at Laguna Point, finding sea anemones, starfish, crabs, small fish, and other sea life. The tidepooling area is so big that even though other people were exploring the tidepools too, it never felt crowded, which was awesome.
Just beware… Put sunscreen on your necks! We didn’t and because we spent so much time looking down, we all ended up with sunburns on the backs of our necks!
About MacKerricher State Park
Located just three miles north of Fort Bragg, MacKerricher State Park extends nine miles along the majestic Mendocino Coast. The park encompasses nearly 2,300 acres, over 450 of which make up a protected underwater area that helps preserve California’s natural underwater ecosystems.
MacKerricher State Park is broken up into a southern section and northern section:
- The southern portion features rocky coastal headlands, the dark sand Main Beach, Virgin Creek Beach, Lake Cleone, the Laguna Point Boardwalk and tidepools, and campgrounds.
- The northern portion includes Ten Mile Beach and the Inglenook Fen—Ten Mile Dunes Natural Preserve. This is the only known remaining coastal fen in California and California’s most pristine stretch of coastal dunes.
- Most people don’t realize it, but Glass Beach, Pudding Creek Beach, and Old Haul Road Beach are also part of MacKerricher State Park.
The Historic Haul Road that stretches from the Pudding Creek Trestle to the Ten Mile River watershed, runs through MacKerricher State Park and across the overpass near Lake Cleone that once carried steam-driven trains to the former Union Lumber Company mill in Fort Bragg. Today it is used by walkers, bikers, and joggers.
The Laguna Point Boardwalk features several scenic observation platforms with interpretive panels, a seal watching station, opportunities for while watching, magnificent views of the Mendocino coast and Pacific Ocean, and access to some of California’s richest tide pools.
MacKerricher State Park History
Duncan MacKerricher and his wife moved to the area from Canada in 1864. A few years later, he bought 1,000 acres and named the land Rancho de la Laguna. He raised cattle, hogs, and draft horses. After a wharf was built at Laguna Point, MacKerricher allowed a gravity fed railway to be built on his land from Cleone to Laguna Point. MacKerricher’s holdings became the core of the park when his heirs sold the property to the State in 1949.
Established in 1952, MacKerricher State Park was at one point part of the Mendocino Indian Reservation then part of the Union Lumber Company’s property in northern Mendocino County. The land was originally home to both the Northern Pomo and the Coastal Yuki tribes and today Native American descendants still gather foods and other resources at MacKerricher in the practice of their tribal traditions.
Know Before You Go
- MacKerricher State Park is located at 24100 MacKerricher Park Road, Fort Bragg, California 95437, Mendocino County three miles north of Fort Bragg near the town of Cleone.
- The park is open sunrise to 10:00 pm.
- Download the park brochure.
- The MacKerricher State Park Visitor Center features interpretive displays and a gray whale skeleton. Whale watching season is from mid-December through April.
- A 1.3 mile trail follows the circumference of the freshwater Lake Cleone.
- The park’s accessible 0.6 mile Laguna Point Boardwalk Loop offers five scenic viewing platforms and takes you to a vast rocky area with some of the best tide pools in northern California.
- Dogs must be on a six-foot leash at all times. There are some areas of the park, like the Inglenook Fen—Ten Mile Dunes Natural Preserve, where no dogs are allowed at all, even on leash.
- More than 140 campsites accommodate tents and RVs with tables, fire rings, food storage lockers, and nearby restrooms.
- Glass Beach, a former dump site turned beach covered in shiny, tumbled glass, sits at the southern tip of the state park.
- Main Beach covers one one mile of the park’s coastline and is accessible right off the main parking lot.
- Virgin Creek Beach, south of the main campground, is a family-friendly beach at the mouth of Virgin Creek with tidepools. There is no official parking lot, just a dirt lot directly off Highway 1.
- Pudding Creek Beach, located underneath the Pudding Creek Trestle, is a wide, flat beach that is perfect for playing in the sand, especially during low tide. There is a parking area just off Highway 1 with restrooms.
- Old Haul Road Beach, just north of Pudding Creek Beach, is a white sand beach that is accessed from a small parking lot along Highway 1 between two motels.