Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve is located on the Mendocino coast. The park features a 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase which explores five wave-cut terraces formed by glacier, sea and tectonic activity that built the coast range. Few places on earth display a more complete record of ecological succession. Each of the terraces was uplifted from sea level about 100,000 years before the one below it. Plants on each terrace represent a more advanced stage in succession, indicating what the previous, next lower terrace may look like in 100,000 years. The lowest terrace consists of prairie; the second is covered with pines; the third supports a unique pigmy forest with knee-high trees possibly several decades old.
Recreational Opportunities

Ecological Staircase Trail trail begins at the parking lot along Highway 1. This trail takes the visitor on a tour of the geological updrift from the coast to the Pygmy Forest two and a half mile inland. This marine terrace sequence illustrates a successional story unparalleled elsewhere in California. The composition and processes responsible for this unique ecological setting offer a diverse selection of interpretive opportunities.

At the top of the Ecological Staircase Trail is the Pygmy Forest, a rare plant community that occurs only in a few sites where wave-cut terraces and their soil surfaces have remained flat during a half million years of geological uplift. The soils are 1000 times more acidic than soil found in the redwood forest. Walk through the stunted gowth of the Pygmy Forest. See a 100 year old redwood tree that is only 6 feet tall.

High bluffs overlook dramatic coves along the Pacific coast. The park is a photographer’s dream.

Seasons Accessible

Year-round. Weather is changeable; recommend layered clothing.

Fees: Free day use. No camping allowed.

For More Information, Contact:

California State parks
15700 N. Highway 1, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
707-937-5804 · fax 707-937-2953

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve