Visiting Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA (with video)

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links. All opinions are my own.

Fort Bragg is a little town on the coast with a population of about 7000 people. I wonder, how many people haven’t heard of Fort Bragg but have heard of Glass Beach?

Glass Beach is actually part of MacKerricher State Park and is open to the public with free admission (and, I believe, free parking). It is covered in sea glass to the point where you really don’t see much sand, just a bunch of glass “pebbles” everywhere. It has quite an interesting origin story. Here’s an excerpt from mendocino.com:

THE GREAT QUAKE of 1906 that devastated San Francisco, also rocked Northern California, instantly reducing most of downtown Fort Bragg’s buildings to rubble. Many buildings were damaged, the devastation was wide-spread and overwhelming.

Before the 1906 Quake, people disposed of their trash on their property, by burning and reusing. As the townspeople determined they would rebuild, they realized there was too much debris to burn, so they chose to clear the huge amount of debris by dumping it in the ocean, thinking it would wash away. Much to their surprise, the debris did not wash out of the cove, creating an ocean dump.
From the ashes of that devastating quake, it’s aftermath, and dumping until the mid 1960’s, these truly amazing glass covered coves have converted trash to treasure.

Thankfully, in 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board created a new dump away from the ocean. Now, many years later, Mother Nature has cleansed and reclaimed this beach. Years of pounding waves and tidal action have crushed, rounded and polished tons of glass and piled it onto the beach. You’ll find the occasional reminder of it’s earlier life, but for the most part what you’ll see is millions of pieces of sea glass sparkling in the sun.”

So…what I got from that story is that it only took 61 years for Fort Bragg to realize they shouldn’t dump their trash in the ocean, because it was coming back to haunt them…lol.

It is interesting and unique to look at though. The main beach itself is very small. There are multiple coves with tidepools that you can access if you are nimble enough to do a little climbing. There are also some sea caves that can be accessed by kayak, and 2 more beaches that are part of MacKerricher. We also went along the level, paved walking paths on our bikes. One is about a mile long and the other, much shorter. There is also a path that goes north along the street, but we didn’t follow that one as it was getting pretty dark.

We read that people mentioning that the beach isn’t as spectacular as it used to be, because people are taking the glass off the beach. But are they stealing, or just picking up litter? ; P

2 thoughts on “Visiting Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA (with video)

  1. I knew about Fort Bragg, but not about Glass Beach. It would be nice if people would like places just like they found them (a Boy Scout rule), unless it is part of cleanup. I think Glass Beach should be left alone.

    • We went into the Sea Glass Museum today and apparently there are a few schools of thought: 1. As it’s part of a state park, they consider the glass “archaeological artefacts” and it’s illegal to remove them from state property; 2. Many beaches are eroding, and since glass is made of sand it is actually recycling to return glass to the beach, and they are trying to come up with a plan to replenish the glass (glass has been added to other beaches as well); and 3. The museum sells semi-rough pieces of glass that you can bring to the beach and leave, and re-use the bag they came in to take home your treasures (glass from the beach). So you’re replacing what you take.

Respond here!