Headlands, wetlands, lakefront, and tide pools: MacKerricher State Park in Mendocino County delivers nine miles of diverse coastline and a seaside gem for spending the night: Surfwood Campground is a laid-back oasis with 45 lush coastal campsites—including 10 secluded first-come, first-served walk-ins close to both the Pacific Ocean and the park’s 30-acre tidal lagoon.
Wetsuits dangling from makeshift drying lines and beach cruisers loaded with inner tubes rightfully designate Surfwood a water-lover’s paradise. Barbecue on the neighboring shores of Lake Cleone (a deteriorating boardwalk circling its 1.3-mile perimeter is expected to be fixed this month), or walk west to oceanfront Laguna Point Trail for a 0.6-mile boardwalk loop with vistas sweeping from Fort Bragg to the Lost Coast. Five interpretive viewing platforms and a shallow cove with tide pool access lead to the seal watching station, a promontory overlooking herds of sunning harbor seals (new pups currently in tow!).
Top off the day with an evening bike ride along the Haul Road—a 3-mile (one-way) multi-use path from Ward Ave. in Cleone to Pudding Creek Trestle in Fort Bragg. Pick up the trail at the edge of Surfwood for a slightly shorter traverse south through sensitive dune habitat and bluffs.
MacKerricher State Park is 3 miles north of Fort Bragg on Hwy. 1. It contains four campgrounds and over 140 campsites. Reserve. Standard sites $35/night, walk-in tent sites $25/night, hike & bike sites $5/person. Free day use! Dogs allowed on leash in restricted areas. Consult park brochure for details and trail maps.