Solitude at Manchester Beach State Park

Dune-top views to the Point Arena Lighthouse from Manchester Beach State Park, California

Dune-top views to the Point Arena Lighthouse from Manchester Beach State Park

Manchester State Park, just north of Point Arena along the California Coast, is so deserted that it’s nearly been shut down – twice.  But somehow it lives on, quiet and secluded, a beach with an overabundance of driftwood and excellent fishing in season (not to mention whale sightings in the winter and early spring).

 

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 0.5+ miles Trail Type: Out & back, Loop, or Multi-spur Elevation Change: 40-100ft. Fees: None

 



 

Driftwood on Manchester Beach, California

Driftwood on the beach

We only wanted to eat breakfast; to find a place where we could pull over, have a nice view, and pull out cold cereal before exploring Point Arena Stornetta National Monument later in the day.  So we followed the signs to the state park and discovered, well, maybe not a hidden gem, but a place you’ll probably have to yourself (especially at 6am).

Walking the wild dunes at 6am in July, Manchester Beach State Park, California

Walking the wild dunes

Several trails lead from the parking area across the dunes.  All are sandy, a few are slightly steep, and all go over or along the dunes to or near the beach.

On the dunes of Manchester Beach State Park with views of the Point Arena Lighthouse, California

On the dunes

The main trail starts near the sign kiosk, but it doesn’t matter too much which trail you take – all of them seem to have a more-or-less-scramble-able drop-off to the beach – but I took one of the ones close to the road in, and the views were nice to the Point Arena Lighthouse.

Driftwood branch used by one hiker to ascend one of the less-scramble-able drops to the beach in Manchester Beach State Park, California

Driftwood branch used by one hiker to ascend one of the less-scramble-able drops to the beach

I also took one of the more main trails near the sign kiosk that went off in a direction opposite to the Point Arena Lighthouse.  I hear the beach walking is pretty good – there is a lot of driftwood due to its location / beach structure – but since we wanted breakfast, we returned to the van to find the cereal already out, and the younger ones already finished with eating for the time being and wondering where we were.

Along the beach at Manchester Beach State Park, California

Along the beach

In general?  It’s a good place to hang out in the peaceful quiet.  I’m sure people come later in the day, but they seemed like the nature-loving types and not the kind that were going to sunbathe with loud radios, etc.

You can also check out the Point Arena Lighthouse Overlook for more views of the lighthouse.

Sea grass at Manchester Beach State Park, California

Sea grass

Round Trip Trail Length: Varies; it’s basically what you want to make it.  I hiked about 0.5 miles by taking two trails across the dunes and back to the parking area.

Elevation Change: In the realm of 40ft.  It could be as much as 100ft. if you went down to the ocean.

Facilities: Primitive restrooms but no picnic tables

Fees: None

Rules & Regs: No camping, no fires, no horses, no dogs

Shadows on the clifftop at Manchester Beach State Park, California

Shadows on the clifftop

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

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

Overall Rating: ★

Seaside Daisy in Manchester Beach State Park, California

Seaside Daisy

Key GPS Coordinates for Manchester State Park

Trail beginning: 38.9826583°N, -123.7056889°W (38°58’57.57″N, -123°42’20.48″W / 38°58.95950’N, -123°42.34133’W) (69ft.) (0.0; ended 0.5 overall)

Top of Dune: 38.9826528°N, -123.7059222°W (38°58’57.55″N, -123°42’21.32″W / 38°58.95917’N, -123°42.35533’W) (83ft.) (98ft.)

Dune top views Manchester Beach State Park, California

Dune top views

Trail to Beach: 38.9830861°N, -123.7056361°W (38°58’59.11″N, -123°42’20.29″W / 38°58.98517’N, -123°42.33817’W) (46ft.) (0.22)

Edge of Beach: 38.9848778°N, -123.7060278°W (38°59’5.56″N, -123°42’21.70″W / 38°59.09267’N, -123°42.36167’W) (35ft.) (0.36)

African-style trees near the access road to Manchester Beach State Park, California

African-style trees near the access road

The gpx file for Manchester State Park 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: 12.1 KB Downloaded 0 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!)

Yellow Sand-Verbena Flowers in Manchester Beach State Park, California

Yellow Sand-Verbena Flowers

Getting to Manchester State Park

From the town of Point Arena, drive north on CA-1.  After about 6 miles, turn left on Kinney Road, following signs for Manchester Beach State Park and the KOA campground.  Drive straight, passing the entrances to the KOA campground and the state park, and turning right with the road when going straight would mean entering what looks like a water treatment plant.  After 1.1 miles, the road ends at the parking area for the beach.

Stunted tree near the access road to Manchester Beach State Park, California

Stunted tree near the access road

From Mendocino, drive south on CA-1.  After about 28 miles, turn right onto Kinney Road, and follow the directions above to the beach.

Closer-up of the Point Arena Lighthouse from Manchester Beach State Park, California

Closer-up of the Point Arena Lighthouse

Visual trail map of my wanderings on the trails across the dunes in Manchester Beach State Park, California

Visual trail map of my wanderings on the trails across the dunes in Manchester Beach State Park, California


Zoom map out to browse nearby hikes & places of interest

 

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