For several years, we kept a clear piggy bank on a shelf in the kitchen pantry. All change went into the piggy bank and we slowly watched it fill up over the years. There was no opening and the only way to get the money out was breaking the bank apart, so we waited until it was completely full and buckling the pantry shelf.
In 2010, we broke it open, counted up our savings, and had almost $600! This funded what we now refer to as our “spare change vacation.” We opened the piggy bank on a Thursday, booked a hotel in Fort Bragg on Friday morning, packed up the kids, and headed out of town for a weekend of beachcombing and riding the Skunk Train.
We stayed at the Best Western Vista Manor Lodge directly across from Pudding Creek Beach and the Pudding Creek Trestle and had so many fond memories of that trip (even though Natalie barfed all over the back seat of the truck), that when traveling back to Fort Bragg for this year’s spring break road trip, we decided to stay there again.
Once again, our hotel room looked out over the Pudding Creek Trestle and Pudding Creek Beach, which meant we got to start each day of our road trip with gorgeous sunrises and end each day with stunning sunsets. There is also a tunnel that passes under Highway 1, connecting the hotel to the entrance of Pudding Creek Beach, which makes it really easy to get your kids and a load of sand toys and beach chairs to the beach.
Because it was so convenient, we ended up working in multiple visits to the Pudding Creek area throughout our road trip. One evening we explored the bluffs and walked across the restored Pudding Creek Trestle, another day we spent time building sand castles on the beach after sand sledding at the Ten Mile Dunes, and we even had time to explore the Pudding Creek Estuary a bit.
Pudding Creek Trestle
Built in 1915 as part of the Ten Mile Railroad, Pudding Creek Trestle was originally used to move timber for the Union Lumber Company across Pudding Creek, from Ten Mile River to the mill in Fort Bragg until 1949.
Measuring 527 feet long and 44 feet tall, Pudding Creek Trestle was the first of five trestles built for the railroad. When the Union Lumber Company shut down the railroad, the trestle was reinforced and the railway bed was turned into a Haul Road used by the company’s special logging trucks that weren’t allowed on the public roads.
After the mill closed down, the trestle began to show its age, succumbing to weather and age. It fell into disrepair and was eventually condemned. Thankfully, the California State Parks restored the historic Pudding Creek Trestle and Old Haul Road in 2010. It is now part of the Ten Mile Trail, which travels through MacKerricher State Park, connecting Glass Beach to Ten Mile Beach. Today it is frequented by hikers, bikers, joggers, dog walkers, meanderers, and sunset seekers all enjoying the view.
Pudding Creek Beach
Pudding Creek Beach, Glass Beach, Old Haul Road Beach, Virgin Beach, Main Beach, and Ten Mile Beach are all part of MacKerricher State Park.
Pudding Creek Beach, sitting below the Pudding Creek Trestle at the mouth of Pudding Creek, is a sandy pocket beach with tidepools between the steep cliffs of two coastal headlands in Fort Bragg.
While a small parking area on the southern bluffs provides access to trails that wind over the headlands and offer breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline, the beach is a destination of its own. Pudding Creek Beach is one of the most scenic beaches on the Mendocino Coast and one of our favorite places to build sand castles and the the kids run wild.
The beach is wide and covered in soft sand, and because it is almost completely flat the ocean waves flow in over the sand, creating a thin layer of water over the sand that is awesome to play and splash around in. Along the base of the southern cliffs, Pudding Creek runs down the beach into the ocean. Here the water is a little warmer and there are no waves — it’s our favorite spot on the beach to set up our day camp and play. While the creek has always been flowing during our visits, sometimes it just pools behind the beach in the Pudding Creek Estuary.
If you happen to visit Pudding Creek Beach during low tide, be sure to check out the awesome tidepools at the north end of the beach along the rocky point.
Know Before You Go
- Pudding Creek Beach and the Pudding Creek Trestle is located at 1100 N Main Street (CA HWY 1), Fort Bragg, California 95437 in MacKerricher State Park, Mendocino County.
- The beach is open daily, access is free.
- Dogs are allowed on leash and must be cleaned up after.
- You can walk, run, or bike across the Pudding Creek Trestle above the beach, then walk down to the large, mostly flat sandy beach to build sand castles and feel the waves crash over your feet.
- There is a small parking area at the south end of the trestle atop the bluffs that provides access to winding clifftop trails, and a small parking area at the beach directly off Highway 1 on the ocean side.
- A tunnel passes under Highway 1 connecting the beach to the hotels and community on the opposite side of the highway.
- Restrooms are available in the Pudding Creek Beach parking lot.
- Watching the sunset from the center of the Pudding Creek Trestle is awesome!