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The scenic MacKerricher Haul Road Trail, previously known as the Ten Mile Beach Trail, is part of an old road used to transport lumber from the Ten Mile River watershed to a mill in Fort Bragg. It hugs the Pacific coastline, traveling across a unique and environmentally sensitive sand dune area from the Pudding Creek Trestle near downtown Fort Bragg to Ward Avenue, north of Cleone. The trail once continued to Ten Mile River (so named because it is located 10 miles north of the Noyo River), but erosion closed this stretch in 2014.
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 Company, 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, but a short detour on the adjacent low-stress park road bridges the gap.
After the detour, 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.
The southern trailhead is 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.
At MacKerricher State Park, follow signs to the Laguna Point Parking area. Day-use parking is free. There is also a small parking lot at the northern trailhead on Ward Avenue.
View the TrailLink map for all parking options and detailed directions.
My hubby and I have done this ride numerous times. You can do 14 miles round trip. Best to avoid weekends, lots of foot traffic. Take care on the downhill run around Virgin Creek. Right after the bridge is lots of sand! Absolutely gorgeous ride! Suz
I just love this trail for bike riding. Its paved though a little sandy and rough. I always ride the connecting Ka Kahleh Coastal Trail as well - starting from Cypress Ave near Noyo harbor and heading north, coming on to this trail after the Pudding Creek trestle. Currently the detour through MacKerricher to head north to the end at 10 Mile Beach is flooded, so one would have to walk across the beach to make that connection. Hopefully this will be fixed later in the spring. Check out the boardwalk in MacKerricher (bikes have to be walked on that, but some great tide-pools and rocky shore). Lots of good food and drink in Mendocino, I especially like Princess Seafood in Noyo harbor for a casual daytime meal of excellent grilled fish and local beer on their patio.
This trail has been extended by 3 miles to the south side of Fort Bragg. The new portion is nicely paved, the old portion is in sad shape but rideable.
Lots of pit toilets on new portion which can be accessed via a parking area just off Cypress street. Beautiful views and a level ride. We rode trikes doing the ride in 2 sections. Also has picnic tables along the way.
Great trail for beginners and seniors!!! Started the trail up at Fort Bragg's glass Beach. Rode haul road to Mackerricker State Park and then north the big a big sand dune area. Reached the end of the trail and headed back. Good 1/2 day trip. This is a great place to bike with kids!!!
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.
"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 suitable for horses and mountain bikes. We turned back and used the parallel road to return to the campground – Big mistake for us. We ended up on busy Highway 1 for a short distance which is not comfortable for us casual cyclists. We picked up the South section, just past the break, and rode to the gate at the long trestle bridge. It was gated because the bridge is not safe for any type of human traffic. The advertisements for MacKerricher show a beautiful sunset behind the bridge and we said, “Wow, won’t that be fun to ride across!” Wrong – no one is allow to cross it.. Summary is that it is a nice seaside bike trail with a hole in the middle."
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.
"This is a wonderful trail for biking, hiking and horseback riding. North of Mackerricher Park large sections of trail are washed out or covered with sand. Its necessary to go on the beach.
If biking, stick to the southern section of the trail.
There are great views of the ocean. On a weekday you can have miles of ocean all to yourself. It's best when sunny with a light wind. Russian Gulch has a good canyon bike path if its a windy day."
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