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Glass Beach | Fort Bragg, CA
This place was a dump – literally. A landfill from the 1940s. But Mother Nature waved her magic wand and churned man’s trash into treasure!
Fact: The Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is a former wasteland of mans’ mistakes: junked automobiles, disregarded apothecary bottles, and household hazmats. In the 60s, someone finally realized that using the Pacific as our personal junkyard was kind of bad idea, and the dumping ceased. Then, Mother Nature took control, tumbling our debris into smooth morsels of beauty. 30 years later, she has provided us a rainbow shoreline of glistening beach glass: The ultimate trophy of Nature Vs. Man.
Contrary to popular Pinterest hype, The Glass Beach is not a mile-long swimmer’s paradise. It’s very small – a few coves tucked amongst some rocky walking trails, excellent for exploring. From above, I completely thought I was in the wrong place – most of the beach glass is white, so from the top of the bluffs, it looks like dull pebbles or crushed shell shrapnel. The sun was closing in on the horizon, and I found myself frantically peeking over the sides. Is that it? No, that looks like sand. Is that it? NO, just more sand?! Blast it, the Yelpers must have been right!
It wasn’t until I climbed down and picked the stuff up that I exclaimed, “Oh my god! It IS beach glass!” Handfuls of it. Bury your toes in it marvelousness. The color only reveals itself once kissed by the waves. On a sunny day, this place must be truly brilliant.
Be ye warned – Fort Bragg itself is not a luxury destination. Be prepared for the most disgusting Denny’s on the face of the planet – it’s the only thing open past sunset willing to feed a wayward traveler. Yet, it’s still worth braving in order to witness this Marvel of Mother Nature. Isn’t that why we’re all road tripping along Highway 1 to begin with? Spend a few hours here, then continue south to San Fran, or north through Redwood nostalgia & Big Foot Country. One of the only Redwoods left that you can drive a car through is 1 hour away!
↓ Shots of Highway 1 Pacific Coast Highway in Northern California: ↓
DIRECTIONS: How to get to the glass beach – There are 3 glass beaches along the coast in Fort Bragg. I believe the biggest deposit of glistening goodness is the one downtown, where I visited. If you don’t see any beach glass, you are in the wrong place. Several reviewers say the beaches no longer exist. They are dumb. Yeah, I said it. They were clearly at the wrong spot, or didn’t bother to climb down for a closer look. This is an Off The Beaten Path destination… which means you’re going to have to go OFF the beaten path!
Do not go to MacKerricher State Park. Go to the middle of town and make a left at Denny’s onto Elm St. I parked in the free lot at Elm St. & Glass Beach Dr. The trailhead is right there, marked by brown state park signs. Make a left at the metal fence, and follow it for a ways (1/4 mile?) to some bluffs. Scramble down to the shore (kid & dog friendly), and wa la! I visited in August 2013, and there was plenty of glass left to play in. Take pictures, not glass – swiping even a few pieces is prohibited. Legal genuine Fort Bragg beach glass jewelry is available at the museum a few miles away.