- Usal Beach, Lost Coast
Situated on the northern California coast between Fort Bragg and Leggett, this secluded black sandy beach is only accessible by navigating 6 miles of curvy logging roads. The drive is well worth the time and effort. With 1 mile of sand to play in, this beach is known to locals for fun in the sand with 4×4 vehicles and dirt bikes. There is a free, primitive campground with natural stone fire rings and plenty of space to spread out, and even beach camping is allowed. This beach always has fully stocked outhouses, although there is no readily available potable water. However, Usal creek cuts the beach in half, which can be used for drinking water if filtered properly. The creek also brings in wonderful animal life. Birds, seals, otters, and elk are a usual scene in the area. Also recommended is a hike on the Peter Douglas Coastal Trail, which starts right at the campground entrance. This 2.3 mile trail leads you along the beautiful Lost Coast and next to some of the most stunning Candelabra trees, which are designed by mother nature herself from a mix of salt and wind. After a full day of playing in the sand and hiking, cooking dinner over a bonfire while watching one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see is the only thing left to do. Enjoy.
*Remember to practice safe fire handling and protect our beaches. A fire broke out in the summer of 2019 due to fireworks let off at the beach.
2. Glass Beach, Fort Bragg
This place is a dump, literally. It is, however, the prettiest dump you’ll ever see. Located in Fort Bragg, there are actually several glass beaches. However because of tourism and people scooping up the glass like beach shells, a lot of the beaches only have pieces here and there. There is, however, one “hidden” glass beach that still has glass that goes several feet deep. You can find it by parking at the Glass Beach Trailhead parking lot and walking left along the coastal trail. Look for the bench behind the fence. This is the entrance. Bring your hiking shoes because you’ll have to walk down a steep hill to access this beach. Once you walk down, your feet will land in several feet of smooth glass beads. Stick your hand in the glass and grab a handful (but don’t take it). Keep an eye out for sharp pieces of trash, such as wire. Again, this was once a dump so you’ll see all kinds of oddities. Hang out for the day and see what you find.
3. Big River Beach, Mendocino
This beach is a long, widespread beach with soft sand that is perfect for friends and family get togethers. Dogs are allowed with a leash, although you’ll see several running without one. You’ll also see paddle boarding, beach volleyball, ultimate frisbee, and kayaking. Catch-A-Canoe and Bicycles, Too, rents out kayaks, canoes, and bikes right on the water. If you choose to go up river, you’ll see many seals hanging out along the banks. Just remember to time out the tides to make things easier.
4. Seaside Beach, Inglenook
This soft sandy beach is a true Pacific coast beauty, offering many boulders, caves, and rock formations to climb on for the adventurous type. This beach is also long and widespread, allowing people to have their own space. Park at the parking lot and head south to see countless sand dollars that have been swept up by the tides.
5. Jughandle Beach, Fort Bragg
Walk down just a few steps onto this beach and be ready to spend your whole day here. This beach is surrounded by seaside cliffs and is sheltered by the wind. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful views. This beach also has direct access to the pygmy forest via the Ecological Staircase trail, featuring stunted trees.
6. Casper Beach, Casper
This beach requires almost no walk at all since you can park right along the edge. This beach features a great spot for beginner surfers. You can rent a surf board from the campground right across the street and also get some nice refreshments and souvenirs too.
7. Pudding Creek, Fort Bragg
This beach features a beautiful walking bridge surrounded by cliffs. This beach is great for families, as the creek can be used for small children to play in while the older kids can use their skimboards or swim since the beach has a very gradual decline into the ocean.
8. MacKerricher State Park Beach, Fort Bragg
This beach features a beautiful coastline and many walking trails out to the ocean. Bring your binoculars and go whale watching or watch the sea lions on the rock formations right off the coast. This beach also has fully stocked restrooms and drinking fountains.