Hiking and Wildlife Viewing
Visit one of the many state parks, natural reserves or beaches located minutes to one hour away from Fort Bragg. Watch a sunset from a Pacific Ocean bluff, walk along a sandy beach or view the shoreline creatures in the tide pools. Stroll through a majestic, old growth redwood forest or discover a unique pygmy forest. Miles and miles of trails await you on the Mendocino Coast.
- Caspar Headlands State Natural Reserve
- Caspar Headlands State Beach
- Jackson State Demonstration Forest
- Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
- MacKerricher State Park
- Mendocino Headlands State Park
- Mendocino Woodlands State Park
- Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve
- Navarro River Redwoods State Park
- Point Cabrillo Light Station Park
- Russian Gulch State Park
- Sinkyone State Park
- Van Damme State Park
- Westport-Union Landing State Beach
Canoeing and Kayaking
Explore our beautiful waterways or the rugged coast - Noyo River and Big River are popular kayaking destinations on the Mendocino coast. View sea lions, harbor seals, and many species of birds. The mouth of Big River is also a popular canoe ocean kayaking launch point. Travel to the coast with your own kayak or rent one from Sub-Surface Progression in Fort Bragg by Noyo River or from Catch a Canoe and Bicycles, Too in Mendocino on Big River.
MacKerricher offers birds a freshwater pond, pine and cypress forest, preserved dunes, grassy ocean bluffs and offshore rocks beloved by shore birds. A huge variety of birds, from small marsh wrens to the endangered Snowy Plover to great blue herons, can be seen there every day. Two easy walks offer great viewing opportunities. One starts at the lake parking lot and circles Lake Cleone. Look for the beautiful wood ducks at the east end of the lake. The other starts at the beach parking lot and leads to the viewing platform at Laguna Point. High tide is the best time to view shorebirds as they huddle on the rocks at the point.
Bird life is also abundant at the Gardens. 130 bird species visit or live in the gardens year-around. Volunteers lead regular bird walks at the Gardens, including a session for beginning birders on the first Saturday of each month.
Thousands of birds, sometimes greater than the population of the nearby village, use the grass-topped island of rock just offshore the northwest corner of the Mendocino Headlands. Some species nest atop the island, while others build their nests on small cliff ledges or lay their eggs in burrows dug deep into the hillside.
Whale Watching is one of Fort Bragg's most popular attractions during the winter and early spring months, when Gray and Humpback whales make their annual migration along the coast. After spending the summer months feeding in the waters of the Arctic, these giant creatures travel south to Baja, California to mate and nurse their young. In spring, the whales head north again, for another summer of feeding.
Whales, sea lions and Harbor seals can very often been seen just offshore at MacKerricher State Park. Pomo Bluffs Park, located on Todd's Point in Fort Bragg, offers spectacular views with outlook points to watch for whales. The bluffs at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens also offer viewing points for whale watching. Finally, whales are frequently spotted just off shore at the Mendocino Headlands State Park.
Daily whale watching trips depart from Noyo Harbor, and take interested spectators out on the Pacific for a closer glimpse at these gentle giants.
Just north of Fort Bragg, visitors and locals can visit MacKerricher State Park for tide pooling adventures. Tide pools, exposed at low tide, occur at the intertidal zone between the shore and the ocean, and are teeming with life, including the California Mussels, Red Abalone, Giant Green Sea Anemone, and the Purple Sea Urchin. Please visit our tide pools with care, and remember to take only photos and leave only footprints.
Sharing this diversified habitat is a variety of marine mammals including the Harbor Seal and the California Sea Lion, which can be expected in many flat, rocky areas off the coast of MacKerricher State Park. Pupping season can bring some great thrills, with pups being born daily in the rookeries offshore. This is a wild habitat, and it is important to remember that these animals, while seemingly docile, can be dangerous. Please do not approach our Marine Mammals and report any stranded Marine Mammals to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. A team of trained local volunteers will be dispatched to investigate the health and stability of the animals.
Fort Bragg and the surrounding areas provide some great terrain for cycling. Whether you are looking for an easy glide along the Old Fort Bragg Haul Road, or more challenging terrain of old Jackson State Forest logging roads, cycling enthusiasts will find a bounty of roads and trails to explore. Easy family access is available just north of Fort Bragg as well as in Jackson State Forest.
Canter along deserted ocean beaches, ride the bluffs while the Pacific crashes against rocks far below, and meander on mossy trails through the redwoods in Jackson State Forest. This is an area of great beauty, rich in wildlife, where time flows at it's own pace; the ghosts of Russian, Spanish and English adventurers tenaciously cling to this isolated part of the world. Fort Bragg has one of the last beaches remaining in the United States where horseback riding is permitted right at the ocean's edge. Ride with one of Fort Bragg's outfitters, or bring your own horse to our area for quality riding on Ten Mile Beach and in the 54,000 acres of Jackson State Forest. Camping with horses is also available in the Fort Bragg area. Please check with MacKerricher State Park and Jackson State Forest for rules regarding horseback riding in these protected areas. Join the Shoreline Riders, a local Fort Bragg riding club, for its annual rodeo's and playdays, including cattle roping, bull riding, barrel racing and other fun equestrian sports.
For those who golf, the Little River Inn Golf Course is a nine hole course with 2 extra greens so it can be played as an 18-hole course. This course is tucked in the redwoods with spectacular ocean views of the ocean and is just a short drive south of Fort Bragg.