Glass Beach, the southernmost beach in MacKerricher State Park, was once a garbage dump for the citizens of Fort Bragg. Several decades worth of Fort Bragg’s trash accumulated on the shoreline until 1967.
The following 30 years were marked by multiple efforts to clean up the mess that previous generations had left. There was just one thing that proved too difficult to clean up: countless fragments of broken glass that had been swept into the waves and were essentially irretrievable.
Fortunately, Mother Nature took it upon herself to solve the issue: years and years of crashing waves smoothed out the broken bits of glass turning the beach to a shiny array of colorful pebbles unlike any other on the planet. Glass Beach has since become a popular tourist attraction, with tens of thousands of annual visitors.
Hiking, tidepooling, beach combing, hiking, whale watching, and dog walking.
Dogs are allowed provided they are leashed.
Keep an eye out for seals resting on offshore rock formations.
The water can be dangerous, and there are no lifeguards, so swimming is not recommended.
Over the years, the amount of glass has drastically reduced due to visitors pocketing handfuls to bring home. Taking glass off of Glass Beach is not only illegal, but it destroys the beach’s unique beauty. Do not take glass from Glass Beach.
Parking is free near Glass Beach.
MacKerricher State Park offers overnight camping, whale watching tours, guided hikes, horseback riding, and picnicking. Food storage lockers and fire rings are available for campers.
Pudding Creek Beach, another beach in MacKerricher State Park, is accessible from Glass Beach by trail. There you’ll find a paved trail that’s next to a repurposed wooden train trestle.
The dumps that eventually became Glass Beach began after the 1906 earthquake that destroyed Fort Bragg. Because of the massive amount of wreckage, traditional methods of garbage disposal were no longer feasible. People began dumping their trash near the shores of what would one day become MacKerricher State Park, and the rest is history.
There are two other nearby beaches full of smoothed glass that are off state park property. Because Glass Beach has lost so much of its glass over the years due to its the popularity as a tourist attraction, these beaches actually boast a much larger amount of the beach’s namesake.
Location: West Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive in Fort Bragg, California
Season: Year round