Fort Bragg's Skunk Train acquired its name because of the gasoline-powered locomotives used in the old days. People often smelled them before seeing them. This train, now using steam locomotives, goes deep into the redwood forest east of Fort Bragg, and still delivers mail. It serves as a link between people in the forest and the outside world. It only runs during the summer months. There is a brief stopover deep in the forest, where the train turns around nearby. A delightful, narrated trip.
Some days, the Skunk Train even has live entertainment. When I rode it, a local folk singer, and retired railroad employee, sang old-timey railroad tunes.
Mendocino Headlands State Park is preserved for future generations because locals, inspired by the artist Emmy Lou Packard, worked to keep it that way. Today, it's one of the most scenic places along California's north coast. While visiting Mendocino, be sure to stop here for at least a few minutes. Be sure to exercise due caution when getting near the sea, and to stay back from the edge of the cliffs.
The park is on the southern side of Mendocino, just off Highway 1. It's right where Big River flows into the Pacific.
This lighthouse occupies an out-of-the-way stretch of the coast between Mendocino and Ft Bragg. It also has a small marine science center.
From Highway 1, turn onto Point Cabrillo Road at Russian Gulch, then follow the signs. Note: This is NOT to be confused with Cabrillo Point Park, just outside San Diego. They're both named for one of the early Spanish explorers of California.
This is one of the loveliest scenic areas on the North Coast. Russian Gulch Creek flows out of a deep canyon and down to the sea, passing under the Highway 1 bridge. Located about two miles north of Mendocino. The park has picnic and camping facilities.
Drive north on Highway 1 and you'll come to a bridge, there is no actual parking, so you'll just have to stop in the sandy area on the side of the road. The hike to the top of the hill is strenuous due to the extremely fine sand, but eh hike is worth it. Ahead of you stretches the beautiful MacKerricher State Park...MacKerricher State Park is situated in Mendocino County near the town of Fort Bragg, on the coast of Northern California. It is considered to be one of the finest coastal parks in the entire California State Park System. The park encompassing approximately 2299 acres of which 454 offshore acres are designated as underwater park.
The southern portion of the park is a wide terrace of coastal prairie which terminates at the ocean in steep, low, rocky bluffs, with a scattering of picturesque sandy beach. The most noticable features of the central section of the park are Bishop and Shore Pine forests which frame Lake Cleone, a 30 acre ancient coastal lagoon. The north portion of MacKerricher State Park is four miles of uninterupted beach backed by a large complex of sand dunes.
Back in the 1940's the residents used to dump their trash in the ocean (unbelievable!) including glass bottles. Years of pounding waves has left tons of polished glass onto the beach where they sparkle in the sunlight.
Between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is Russian Gulch State Park. Drive down and park and then take the pathway back into the forest for a gorgeous nature hike that you wont find strenuous. There is a lovely river and some magnificient little waterfalls. Perfect hike for an hour or so before dinner.
There is a place called Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. It is also a great place to pick up any abalone shells you may find (they are usually hidden in the smallest of tidepools). Scattered all over the beach are pebbles made out of glass. What we heard was that a bottling company burned down and sprayed bits of glass all over the beach. It eventually landed in the water and washed up in the form of pebbles that were immediately cooled down.
This old logging town became an artists' colony, and is now also a tourist spot. A pleasant, rather quaint place to spend a few hours. The picturesque Mendocino Headlands lie just outside town.