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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 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.
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 also a small parking lot at the northern trailhead on Ward Avenue.
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