Walk the boardwalk out to the tide pools and harbor seal observation point. This can also be the start of several nice hikes ranging from ½ hour to 5 hours. Harbor seal pupping season is April – May, and it’s definitely worth making an effort to go during that time. An old haul road passes through MacKerricher, parallel to the coastline. Lake Cleone is an ancient coastal lagoon which is occasionally stocked for fishing.
Access: go 3 miles north of Ft. Bragg (just before the town of Cleone), turn left into the park, and follow the signs to the beach. 707-964-9112
Time & Distance: 1 hour; 1 mile round-trip to the seal-watching observation deck.
Haul Road through MacKerricher State Park
The haul road goes north for 4 miles along the ocean, passing through MacKerricher State Park. There are side trails all along the way that take you along the bluffs and beaches by the ocean. At the 4-mile point, the road is washed out. If you’re feeling hardy, continue along the beach for one mile, and then the road picks up again for another 2 miles on the Ten-Mile River Haul Road.
Access: Right after the light at Elm St (by Denny’s) on the north side of Ft Bragg, you’ll pass the old railroad trestle over Pudding Creek. Go past the first motel north of the trestle, and park in the dirt parking lot north of the Beachcomber Motel (the sign says “Beach Access Old Haul Road”).
Time & Distance: 3 hours on foot; 8 miles for the paved portion.
Note: Dogs are allowed on some beach areas, but they are prohibited on Ten Mile Beach above Ward Ave, in the natural preserve where nesting sea birds live. During seal pupping season (April and May), dogs are prohibited from being around any area where harbor seals live.