The “Hard” Trail from Glass Beach

Wild Radish flowers with sea stacks beyond south of Glass Beach, California

Wild Radish flowers with sea stacks beyond south of Glass Beach

Two sections of trail currently strike off from Glass Beach in the town of Fort Bragg, California.  After you’ve seen the glass on the beach, you might as well take the “Hard Trail” south along the top of the headlands (the second trail heads north in a more rustic environment).  The trail was constructed in 2015 and is in excellent condition, paved, and with views to sea stacks, a sea arch or two, and over headlands, bays, and beaches.  You might even see some California Poppies or other wildflowers along the way!

Quick Stats for Glass Beach Trail (South)

Round Trip Length: 2.0 miles Trail Type: Out & back Elevation Change: 10ft. Fees: None

 


Orange California Poppies along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Orange California Poppies

Also along the trail are views are of the old logging sheds and logging lots that once bustled with activity.  Today, they’re empty, the concrete cracked and lined with weeds.  But the decaying industry is pretty easy to ignore for most of the trail if it’s not your thing.

The old lumber yards. The trail people have done an excellent job of hiding the yards from view in most places. South of Glass Beach, California

The old lumber yards. The trail people have done an excellent job of hiding the yards from view in most places.

From the Glass Beach parking area, walk along the wide path (the path splits next to the parking area; take the left / wider of the two trails).  A short distance down the path, a sign will indicate the “Easy” trail and the “Hard” trail.  Turn left, following the signs for the “Hard” trail.

Gum Weed flowers near the trail junction onto the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Gum Weed flowers near the trail junction

Now, if you actually follow the trails, going right is much harder than going left.  But for now, comfort yourself with how easy this hard trail is to walk on.

Cliffs and sea stacks along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Cliffs and sea stacks

The paved trail wanders along the headland.  Fences have been installed to keep you off the fragile headlands (ok, to keep visitors safe and help the wild grass, etc., grow back).  The pity of this is that it’s hard to really get a good look at the ocean or the nearby sea stacks.  A few small overlooks offer some views.

Views across sea stacks and waves from the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Views across sea stacks and waves

About a half mile from the parking area, a short loop offers some nice views over a couple sea arches.  Quite nice!

Sea arch covered in greenery and flowers along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Sea arch covered in greenery and flowers

Another 0.3 miles down the trail, a viewpoint strikes off to a tip of the headland.  This is apparently the premier view along the trail.

Cove along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Cove along the trail

About this point, the main trail turns left with the coastline.  It’s not too long after this that the trail dead ends at a broken bench and a sign about the logging industry and how the trail was made.  At some point, the trail will extend from here to Noyo Headlands State Park on the next large headland across Fort Bragg Landing.

Grasses and log yards at the end of the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Grasses and log yards

Turn around to return to the parking area.  Or follow the “Easy Trail” for a more rustic, more difficult, but so much more beautiful trek along coves and headlands north of Glass Beach.  But that’s a post for another week!

Returning down the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Returning down the trail

Round Trip Trail Length: About 2 miles, not including Glass Beach

Net Elevation Change: 10ft. (36ft. to 26ft.)

Facilities: Restrooms in the parking area; picnic tables on the opposite end of the parking area; other facilities available in Fort Bragg

Fees: None

Trail Notes: Because of size constraints, no RVs are allowed in the parking area for Glass Beach.  Do not collect or remove glass (obvious, but I have to say it).  The wildflowers along the trail may be hard to spot, but they are beautiful!

A clifftop swathed in flowers along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

A clifftop swathed in flowers!

Trail ★★★★★

Road ★★★★☆

Signs ★★★☆☆

Scenery ★★★★☆

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Yellow and orange California Poppy along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, Oregon

Yellow and orange California Poppy

Key GPS Coordinates for the Coastal Trail South of Glass Beach

Trailhead: 39.4519306°N, -123.8109583°W (39°27’6.95″N, -123°48’39.45″W (39°27.11583’N, -123°48.65750’W) (22ft.) (0.0; ended 4.2 overall)

Easy vs. Difficult Trail Junction: 39.4518917°N, -123.8123583°W (39°27’6.81″N, -123°48’44.49″W / 39°27.11350’N, -123°48.74150’W) (34ft.) (0.6; returned 2.2)

Arch Viewpoint: 39.4476111°N, -123.8145083°W (39°26’51.40″N, -123°48’52.23″W / 39°26.85667’N, -123°48.87050’W) (36ft.) (1.02)

Main Viewpoint: 39.4450417°N, -123.8161167°W (39°26’42.15″N, -123°48’58.02″W / 39°26.70250’N, -123°48.96700’W) (26ft.) (1.32)

Trestle Beginning: 39.4580083°N, -123.8078528°W (39°27’28.83″N, -123°48’28.27″W / 39°27.48050’N, -123°48.47117’W) (43ft.) (3.1)

Trestle End: 39.4594694°N, -123.8072333°W (39°27’34.09″N, -123°48’26.04″W / 39°27.56817’N, -123°48.43400’W) (42ft.) (3.3)

People on a clifftop near Glass Beach, California

People on a clifftop near Glass Beach

The gpx file for Glass Beach and surrounding trails can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

File size: 79.0 KB Downloaded 6 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Cliffs along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Cliffs along the trail

Getting to the Coastal Trail South of Glass Beach

From the town of Fort Bragg, drive toward the north end of town on CA-1.  Turn left on W Elm Street for 0.2 miles.  Here the road will turn sharply to the right; turn left into the good-sized parking area for Glass Beach.

Coastal greenery and flowers along the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Coastal greenery and flowers

If you’re coming from the north, cross over Pudding Creek (the trestle will be very visible to the right before you get to the bridge over the creek), then turn right on W Elm Street and follow the directions (above) to the trailhead.

Zoom map out to browse nearby hikes & places of interest

Visual Trail Map of the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach, California

Visual Trail Map of the Coastal Trail south of Glass Beach

 

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