Photos by Matt Knowles
Located at the end of West Elm St., Glass Beach is one of the most unique beaches in the world, not because nature created it that way, but because time and the pounding surf have corrected one of man's mistakes.
Beginning in 1949, the area around Glass Beach became a public dump. It is hard to believe these days, but back then people dumped all kinds of refuse straight into the ocean, including old cars, and their household garbage, which of course included lots of glass. By the early sixties, some attempts were made to control what was dumped, and dumping of any toxic items was banned. Finally in 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board realized what a mistake it was and plans were begun for a new dump away from the ocean.
Now, over 30 years later, Mother Nature has reclaimed this beach. Years of pounding wave action have deposited tons of polished glass onto the beach. You'll still see the occasional reminder of it earlier life, such as a rusted spark plug, but for the most part what you'll see is millions of pieces of glass sparkling in the sun. (sorry, collecting is not allowed).
Glass Beach also has a very interesting array of tide pools to explore. Crabs, mollusks, and many aquatic plants make their homes in these ever changing environments. It is very easy to spend your whole day poking aound the tide pools and watching the busy little worlds that go on inside each one.
MacKerricher State Park offers a variety of habitats; beach, bluff, headland, dune, forest and wetland. Tidepools are along the shore. Seals live on the rocks off the park's Mendocino coast. More than 90 species of birds visit or live near Cleone Lake, a formal tidal lagoon. During winter and spring, the nearby headland provides a good lookout for whale watching. The park is popular with hikers, joggers, equestrians and bicyclists. Fishing is also popular, with trout in two fresh-water lakes. The park has a wheelchair accessible nature trail.
If you would like to go horse back riding on the beach, MacKerricher State Park is the place to go. Bring your own horse or contact the folks at Richochet Riddge Ranch.
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