California Bear

Weekend Escapes: Explore the Mendocino Coast & Redwoods

With over 90 miles of spectacular coastline overlooking the strikingly blue Pacific Ocean, majestic old-growth redwood groves reaching toward the skies, and historic locomotive engines that showcase the area’s natural beauty, Mendocino County is a Golden State must-see! 

The colorful sea glass shores of Glass Beach. Photo by Ershov Maks.

Glass Beach

Tucked away amongst the coastal cliffs of Fort Bragg is a beach whose sandy shores have long given way to a more colorful varietal: sea glass. At MacKerricher State Park’s Glass Beach, vibrant tones dot the coast where small bits of sea glass have washed ashore. This golden state classic was formed over a century ago when the local town used the site to dump garbage, and Mother Nature transformed the broken pieces of glass into tiny, colorful treasures. Smoothed by years of tumbling in the waves, keep your eyes peeled for pieces of sapphire blue, from old apothecary bottles, or the rare ruby red of vintage tail lights. The eye-catching sea glass is a beautiful sight to see, one that the California State Parks hope to preserve for years to come. Collecting is discouraged, but feel free to snap as many photos as you’d like! Discover the beauty of Glass Beach’s tide pools, coves, and sea glass. 

Sunbeams amongst the redwoods in Russian Gulch State Park. Photo by Mick Haupt.

Russian Gulch State Park

Trek along the ocean bluffs, fern-filled canyons, and towering redwoods of Russian Gulch State Park, all of which lead to the park’s highlight: a year-round, 36-foot-high waterfall. With 15 miles to explore in this 1,000-acre State Park, you can begin your day by meandering along the rugged coastal headlands before heading into the lush canopy of the old-growth redwoods. Pause to admire the architecture of the lofty, arching Russian Gulch Bridge. Spanning 527 feet over the sandy cove below, this historic bridge is the connecting point between the two sides of the park: coastline and forest. Enjoy a picnic lunch as you gaze at the park’s glimmering waterfall, perched above a flourishing fern grotto and feeding the babbling creek below. Be prepared to pack your trash, which helps to keep this scenic hiking spot beautiful for generations to come! 

Hop aboard this vintage steam train. Photo courtesy of The Skunk Train.

Skunk Train

All Aboard! Don’t miss Mendocino’s famous Skunk Train, a steam train with a longstanding California history. Its roots date back to 1885, when the Skunk Train’s Redwood Route was created to carry lumber to the coast. Today, the historic engine departs from two depots in Fort Bragg and Willits, carrying travelers on a magical journey through the stunning scenery! Soak in the natural beauty of Mendocino’s lush redwood forests as the Skunk’s locomotive chugs across 30 trestles, zigs and zags along the Noyo River, and propels billowing clouds of steam into the air. For a truly unique experience, book a ride to the one-of-a-kind Glen Blair Bar: a hidden outdoor tavern nestled in the redwoods, only accessible via the Skunk. With routes operating year-round, traveling through the majestic redwoods on the historic Skunk Train is sure to delight! 

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