MacKerricher State Park is one of the most activity-rich, easily-accessible parks on the Mendocino Coast. Located a few minutes north of Fort Bragg, or twenty minutes north of Mendocino, this park offers something for everyone – especially the outdoor enthusiast of the group.
The park is the go-to spot for local tide pooling, with easily accessible tide pools that boast the most diverse collection of marine life found on the Mendocino Coast. From starfish to anemones to octopi to nudibranchs, this is an exceptional spot to explore the natural bounty that the Pacific Ocean has to offer. MacKerricher is massive, covering nearly 2,300 acres of pristine coastline, and actually includes world-famous Glass Beach on its southern end.
The star attraction for most people, though, is located near the center of the park, near Lake Cleone. Here a boardwalk takes you through the prairie ecosystem, and along numerous access points to the tide pools, to a vista point at the far west end of the MacKerricher. From this vista you can see a regular gathering of harbor seals on the rocks, as well as have an excellent vantage point for whale watching during the bi-annual migration.
Tidepooling is a favorite activity on the Mendocino Coast – but it’s important to be safe, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the northern Pacific ocean. Wear good shoes to help you keep traction on the often slippery rocks – and step cautiously until you are certain of your footing. Never turn your back on the ocean, and remember that even if the surf is low, occasional ‘sleeper waves’ can be significantly larger than the average height. And if you come across baby wildlife, please don’t touch it – often a mother won’t return to her baby seal or other animal after a human being has interacted directly with it.
Keep these basic rules in mind, though, and you’re in for one of the keystone experiences of a visit to Mendocino. You never know what you’ll find in the fragile intertidal ecosystem of the MacKerricher tidepool, and exploring is half the fun.