On our way back to Fort Bragg after spending the day exploring Greenwood State Beach, Point Arena Pier at Arena Cove, the Point Arena Lighthouse, Moat Creek Beach, and B Bryan Preserve, we made one last stop just before dark at Manchester State Beach Park.
I really wanted to check out the Manchester Beach because I heard it was stunning, that you can see the Point Arena Light Tower from the beach, and that the San Andreas Fault crosses the beach into the ocean.
With almost five miles of spectacular California coastline, Manchester State Beach Park has a long stretch of sandy beach, sand dunes, wetlands, and acres upon acres of flat meadow-like grasslands on coastal bluffs.
Manchester State Park is named for the small town of Manchester that has a population of about 200 and sits 13 miles south of the small town of Elk. The driftwood-heavy beach stretches from Garcia Creek to Alder Creek, both of which are popular spots for steelhead fishing.
Manchester State Park History
The William Barns Davis family owned land in this area during the mid-1870s. In 1930, the California State Park commission set aside 295 coastal acres in the same area for public recreation. In 1961, James Biaggi gave the State a portion of a dairy ranch built by Sylvanus Hoyt that was located in the northern park of the park. Together, the land was named Manchester State Park in 1991.
Manchester State Park hosts rare and at-risk creatures in it’s wetland and coastal dune habitats, including the Snowy Plovers on the beach, Red-legged Frogs in the wetlands, and Point Arena Mountain Beavers in the coastal scrub and riparian areas.
Arena Rock Marine Natural Preserve
Arena Rock, only slightly visible during very low tides, is a dangerous and infamous rock that sits in 100 feet of water at the southwestern end of Manchester State Park. Six shipwrecks were attributed to Arena Rock and and additional 34 ships were lost at sea in the area before the Point Arena Lighthouse was built.
In 1987, a 500 acre offshore area around Arena Rock was established as Arena Rock Marine Natural Preserve. In 2010, under the statewide Marine Life Protection Act, it became part of the larger Point Arena State Marine Reserve.
Know Before You Go
- The Manchester State Park entrance is located at 44500 Kinney Lane, 0.5 mile north of the town of Manchester, 7.0 miles north of Point Arena, and 13 miles south of Elk in Mendocino County.
- Named for the town of Manchester, the state park includes 1500 acres onshore with a 3,782 acre underwater lease, and more than four miles of pristine beach backed by undulating dunes, wetlands, and coastal bluffs.
- Download the Manchester State Park brochure.
- The northernmost segment of California’s 800 mile long San Andreas Fault, separating the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, intersects a portion of Manchester State Beach Park.
- The weather is usually cool, windy, and foggy with temperatures ranging from winter lows in the 30s to summer highs near 70 degrees.
- There are nearly 40 family campsites and eight environmental sites available on a first come, first served basis.
- Two streams run through Manchester State Park — Brush Creek and Alder Creek — that have excellent steelhead fishing. Those 16 and over must have a fishing license.
- Dogs are only allowed in the campground and must be kept on a leash of no more than six feet.