Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

Jug Handle State Reserve

Between Mendocino and Fort Bragg, Jug Handle preserves an ecological staircase that you can view on a 5-mile (round-trip) self-guided nature trail. The reserve is also a good spot to stroll the headlands, whale-watch or lounge on the beach; you can pick up a printed guide detailing the area’s geology, flora and fauna from the parking lot. Note that it’s easy to miss the entrance; watch for the turnoff, just north of Caspar.

Five wave-cut terraces ascend in steps from the seashore, each 100ft and 100,000 years removed from the previous one, and each with its own distinct geology and vegetation. One of the terraces has a pygmy forest, similar to the better known example at Van Damme State Park, 7 miles south.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Jug Handle State Reserve attractions

1. Point Cabrillo Light Station

1.91 MILES

Built in 1909, this stout lighthouse stands on a 300-acre wildlife preserve north of town, between Russian Gulch and Caspar Beach. The grounds also…

2. Sea Glass Museum

1.92 MILES

Just south of town, this museum showcases the sea glass found on local beaches with beautiful displays, plus audiovisual explanations and additional…

3. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

2.37 MILES

This gem of Northern California displays native flora, rhododendrons and heritage roses. The succulent display alone is amazing and the organic garden is…

4. Mendocino Art Center

4.77 MILES

Behind a yard of twisting iron sculpture, the city’s art center takes up a whole tree-filled block. It hosts exhibitions, nationally renowned art classes…

5. Guest House Museum

4.85 MILES

A majestic Victorian structure built in 1892 displays historical photos and relics of Fort Bragg’s history.

6. Noyo Center for Marine Science

4.86 MILES

This small science center educates visitors about the climate-based threats facing the Mendocino coast, including the mass sea star die-off, explosion of…

7. Triangle Tattoo & Museum

4.87 MILES

This one-off museum has an excellent exhibition of international tattoo art and explains the history in various cultures. You can also get a tattoo done…

8. Northcoast Artists Gallery

4.87 MILES

An excellent local arts cooperative where 20 full-time members work in photography, glass, woodworking, jewelry, painting, sculpture, textiles and…