Glass Beach is more or less a collective name for three different beaches that are found in the Northern California coastal town of Fort Bragg. The most highly visited of these beaches is more specifically found at MacKerricher State Park. Approximately 100 yards to the south of this main example is another Glass Beach. This second beach is less highly visited, partly due to the fact that it is inaccessible at high tide. As for the third Glass Beach, it has long been accessible only by way of kayak. A new coastal trail now provides another way to get to this third Glass Beach and offers opportunities to either admire the beach from above or hike down and get a closer look.
The main Glass Beach at MacKerricher State Park is within walking distance of downtown Fort Bragg and has long served as a popular Northern California attraction. As is true of the other two Glass Beaches, it gets its name from the fact that its sands and pebbles are mixed with smooth and colorful glass pieces. These glass pieces came from such things as old bottles and auto tail lights. The three Glass Beaches used to be dumpsites where residents would deposit their trash. Eventually, the city of Fort Bragg put an end to this once common practice among seaside communities and decided to clean up its beach dumpsites. The small glass pieces that you encounter today were smoothed over the years by the churning ocean waters and basically have the appearance of gemstones. Visitors are encouraged to leave the glass behind, especially at MacKerricher State Park, as it is against the law to remove any and all state park artifacts.
In addition to visiting the various Glass Beaches, Fort Bragg visitors can take in exhibits that relate to these interesting attractions. At the Sea Glass Museum, there are display cases that hold glass pieces that came from the Glass Beaches. Admission is free. You can also check out a Glass Beach exhibit at the Guest House Museum, which is operated by the Fort Bragg Historical Society.
Top image: Digital Sextant (flickr)