The scenic Ten Mile Beach Trail, also referred to by locals as the MacKerricher Haul Road Trail, is part of an old road used to transport lumber from the Ten Mile River watershed to a mill in Fort Bragg. It begins at the Pudding Creek Trestle near downtown Fort Bragg and ends at Ten Mile River (so named because it is located 10 miles north of the Noyo River). It hugs the Pacific coastline, traveling across a unique and environmentally sensitive sand dune area.
From Pudding Creek, you cross a bridge that was the start of the lumber trading route terminating many hundreds of miles away in Eureka 150 years ago. Built in 1915-1916 by the Union Lumber Co., this bridge is the only original railroad trestle remaining on the corridor. Beyond the trestle are 4 miles of coastal bluff. As you move along the trail, you see sweeping vistas of the ocean and a variety of plant and animal species. You might be able to spot the endangered western snowy plover, a bird that typically breeds in dune-related coastal habitats.
Be sure to bring binoculars for whale and seal watching; this stretch is one of the largest uninterrupted whale-watching spots on the western coast. Pacific gray whales can be seen on their migration route from December to April. At about 1.5 miles in, you cross Virgin Creek, a great spot to sit and watch the waves and contemplate a coastline that was 3 to 5 miles farther west around 12,000 years ago.
Continuing north you reach sand, the geological terrain that MacKerricher Park is known for. Dune grasses, some native and some invasive, prevent the dunes from shifting too much. After about another mile you'll see Lake Cleone, a lovely tidal lagoon filled with a variety of birds. There is also a restroom at the lake. Some sections of the trail near the lake have eroded away and are not bikeable. They are relatively small, however, and can be gone around quite easily by dismounting and walking across the obvious erosions. After the eroded sections, the trail continues north along high bluffs, with breathtaking ocean views. A short distance ahead, at approximately 3 miles in, is the end of the rideable terrain. Turn around and head back, or park your bike and take a longer coastal walk to Ten Mile River.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the southern trailhead, from State Route 1 in Fort Bragg, head north, passing the railroad trestle over Pudding Creek. Continue past the first motel north of the trestle and park in the dirt lot north of the Beachcomber Motel at Pudding Creek Beach. You can access the trail from the beach. You can also ride directly from Fort Bragg across the trestle and onto the path.
To reach the main entrance of MacKerricher State Park, from SR 1, drive 3 miles north of Fort Bragg and turn left (west) into the park. Follow signs to the Laguna Point Parking area. Day-use parking is free. There is no parking at Ten Mile River at the north end.
The pudding creek trestle has been rehabilitated and is now open to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. It is now possible to go from downtown Fort Bragg directly to the haul road trail without using Highway 1.
Watch out for the gap in the middle!
"July 31st: Despite the high fog that blanketed the coast, we had an enjoyable, but damp ride. From MacKerricher State Park we accessed the North section, just past the massive washout of the trail, and rode till the trail ended in another, abrupt drop-off ...
This is a great trail. I've been doing it since I was just a toddler and I've never gotten tired of it. I find a new beauty in it every time.