We had been working our way toward Crescent City from Crater Lake National Park nearly all day, having lunch at Great Cats World Park, stopping at the Gasquet Ranger Station in the Smith River National Recreation Area, and hiking the Stout Memorial Grove Loop Trail. Our last few stops of the day, as the sun was setting, were beautiful Northern California beaches.
With 340 acres of picturesque, windswept coastal bluffs and rough, rocky shoreline, Point St. George is the third westernmost point in the continental United States.
The point is the site of the Point St. George Heritage Area, a former Tolowa Dee-ni’ Coastal Village dating back to 1854 and an archaeological area that is significant to descendants of the Tolowa people. It is also where you’ll find an old Coast Guard building, tidepools, and a huge, stunning crescent shaped beach with a network of trails that traverse the bluffs and provide beach access.
Point St. George Beach is so big that we accessed it from two different parking areas: one at one at Point St. George South and one at Point St. George North.
- From the southern parking area, it was a quick walk through tall grasses and wildflowers to reach the sandy, driftwood strewn beach. We found two driftwood forts among the piles of wood, seashells along the sand, and someone shooting engagement photos as the sun set.
- From the northern parking area, the trail to the beach was much longer. Because it was high tide, we didn’t actually get to walk the beach. Luckily, the views of the rocky coastline were well worth the walk.
St. George Reef Lighthouse
The historic St. George Reef Lighthouse sits on Dragon Rocks, 8.0 miles off the point at the end of Saint George Reef. Standing 15 stories above the sea, and was the tallest lighthouse on the west coast for more than a century. It took 10 years to build and was topped with a massive first-order Fresnel lens that was first lit in 1892.
Staffed from 1891 to 1975, St. George Reef Lighthouse was the most dangerous assignment in the lighthouse service. During staff transfers on and off the rock, four lighthouse keepers died and several others were seriously injured.
The lighthouse was decommissioned and abandoned in 1975 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Today it is under restoration.
Know Before You Go
- Point St. George Heritage Area, designated in 2002 in honor of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ people, is located adjacent to Tolowa Dunes State Park three miles north of Crescent City.
- The beach is open from sunrise to sunset for beachcombing, fishing, tidepooling, picnicking, hiking, and surfing. It is not accessible and there are no facilities.
- Signs at the beach read: Disturbing any historic or prehistoric object, artifact, feature, or site on public lands of the State of California is a crime punishable by one year in jail and $50,000 in fines.
- Dogs must remain on a six-foot leash at all times.