Walk on Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach in Northern California

This roadtrip through the winding coastal roads of Mendocino county was a special treat. Peter and I were taking a spontaneous travel adventure three hours away from our Northern California home to see something first hand, something that I had only witnessed in pretty pictures on Pinterest, Instagram and such. I was on a mission to ogle it, touch it, walk on it and of course take my own dazzling photographs.

We were headed to Glass Beach in Fort Bragg.
Glass Beach in Fort Bragg

The famous Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is where a high concentration of colored sea glass shimmers along the shore. It is rumored that when a sailor is lost at sea, the mermaids cry brilliant sea glass tears that are washed ashore. In reality the sea glass is not the mermaids tears, but the aging effects from a local dump that was moved from the area in the mid 60s.

A former dumping ground, turned sea glass mecca.
The real Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, Mendocino

It had been at least fifteen years since we had ventured North to Mendocino County and as we began the drive we couldn’t understand why it had been so long.

This coastal area of Northern California was beautiful.

We passed by the tiny town of Jenner, watching the boats and kayaks enjoying the day. Then we made a quick stop at Fort Ross, an old Russian settlement. We even stopped in the Redwoods, so I could “Hug a Redwood”, a goal that’s been on my bucket list for years.

At this rate we may never make it to either Fort Bragg or Glass Beach.

Kayaks in Jenner, Northern California

The Old Fort Ross in Sonoma County, Northern California

Annette White Hugging a Redwood in Mendocino County, Northern California

We finally pulled up to the famous Glass Beach in Fort Bragg and the parking lot was full, dozens of people were heading the same direction as us. There were no signs along the way, but we followed the crowd and walked down a concrete path towards the oceanfront. From up above we could see a half dozen folks combing the sand for sea glass and I started to get excited.

Would it look like the all the photographs on Pinterest?

As we walked down from the ledge towards the water we started to see a little glass mixed in with some rock. The glass sighting increased the closer to the sea we got, though even at it’s best it was about a 60-40 ratio with sea glass as the latter and rock in the lead. Update: They have recently opened a new coastal section to the South and down stairs, that has a higher concentration of glass. Make sure to head South!!!

Annette White sitting on Glass Beach in Fort Bragg

Annette & Pete White at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg Mendocino

It was a surprise that several people there were loading up little plastic bags of sea glass to take as a souvenir, leaving less for future visitors.

Please, don’t take the sea glass.

There were several colors of glass, but the green was the scarcest. I’m sure much of it is sitting in pretty clear vases on mantles all over the world. It was easy to spot brown glass from the broken beer bottles, as well as white, but you really had to look for the green.

I sat on the ground, picking out solely colored glass for one photograph sans the rocks. It was beautiful, but there was no area we saw along Glass Beach that you could see this naturally.

the sea glass beach fort bragg

Even though Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach doesn’t look exactly like the saturated photos you see online it is definitely worth a visit. Not only for the pretty sea glass, but for the general beauty of the beach with it’s coastal plants, weathered driftwood and sandy landscape.

Annette White showing her muscles at Glass Beach Fort Bragg , Mendocino

Driftwood at Glass Beach Fort Bragg

***Another one of our favorite roadtrips was driving Nova Scotia’s 185 mile Cabot Trail.

Glass Beach | MacKerricher State Park | Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive, Fort Bragg, California | Map

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2017-03-09T21:39:44+00:00 August 23rd, 2015|Categories: California, North America, TRAVEL|Tags: , , , |

12 Comments

  1. rebecca August 23, 2015 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    It never looks like it does in the photos, however, a nice read up

    • Annette White August 24, 2015 at 8:33 am - Reply

      The reality typically doesn’t match the photos, but I still want to see it all for myself 🙂

  2. Laura Rogers August 24, 2015 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    Sorry, but from your photos it appears that you turned north instead of south to walk along the beach in search of sea glass. That is why you found a mixture of glass with so many rocks. On the newly opened Coastal Trail, which leads to the south, there are stairs leading down the bluff directly to the greatest deposit of glass along the shoreline. It is a few feet deep in glass, mixed with sand, and the place where online photos show the actual abundance of glass.
    I am a resident of Fort Bragg and live due east of Glass Beach, so I visit frequently. I appreciate that you request that people NOT take the glass, but I suspect it will disappear in a few years while the collecting goes on and more and more people visit the site.

    • Annette White August 24, 2015 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for this information Laura! It truly is a special place either way, but it is incredible to know that they have opened a new section! You certainly live in a beautiful place in the world.

  3. Sofia August 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    I think I’m a bit guilty of taking some of the beach’s precious glasses. I saw some really nice blue ones and made key chains out of it, just for myself and a few friends. I honestly wanted to take some more but it’s really just a few of them left.. those colored ones were rare. But this is a beach, where people normally collect unique stones or shells especially colorful ones as souvenirs..

  4. Taj Mahal Tour Package August 31, 2015 at 5:30 am - Reply

    Amazing pictures to get full enjoying to Bragg glass beaches are so attractive. This is a best Northern California travelling to great experiences. This blog is providing lovely and very beautiful photos with sharing the online blog postings.

    • Annette White August 31, 2015 at 7:41 am - Reply

      The Glass Beach is just one more reason Northern California is an incredible place to travel to (and live)!

  5. arvi kohne September 14, 2015 at 3:53 am - Reply

    Those pictures are amazing!
    This is now on my list, Thanks!

  6. fadiyah March 7, 2016 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    the beach is look much natural and “virgin”, didn’t get much treatment or modification. The real beach was not same as in picture (in google), picture more beautiful. But that’s one of most unique beach, not build with sands but with glass. wish could visit this place sometime

  7. Joanna: Price management November 19, 2016 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Love the mist and trees in these pics that is so evocative of the Northern Cali coast. Such a great place.

  8. Emma July 3, 2017 at 7:43 am - Reply

    I live in Sweden and I dream of visiting California during the summer (that might be all year, I’m not sure). There is so much I’d like to see: The architecture, theme parks, LA and much, much more. I’m thinking of renting a car and drive along the coast and see where I land. Great post btw 😉

    • Annette White July 4, 2017 at 7:39 am - Reply

      There is so much to see and do in California. Renting a car for a drive along the coast is a great idea!

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