Virgin Creek Beach, MacKerricher State Park Birding

Virgin Creek Beach, MacKerricher State Park Birding

The place where the freshwater of Virgin Creek meets the Pacific Ocean is one of the best birding spots on the Mendocino Coast. There’s a variety of habitat close at hand, including a sandy beach, rocky outcrops and grassy dunes. Expect to see an assortment of shorebirds, maybe an endangered Snowy Plover or two, particularly during periods of migration. Park near Highway 1 between Church School Lane and Virgin Creek Lane. It’s a short 10 minute walk through a little pine forest and typical coastal grasslands to the beach access area. At the trail’s end, go south on the ‘Haul Road’ to a bridge across the creek, or continue west to the beach. Another convenient access point is the large lot further south located just south of the Surf and Sand Motel. From there you can walk the enjoyable and level 0.8 miles to Virgin Creek, which is marked by a low wooden bridge. This walk along the Haul Road is a popular promenade for friendly locals.

Best Time for Viewing: Morning and Late Afternoon

Best Months and Seasons for Viewing: Spring and Fall

ADA Accessibility Notes

The ‘Haul Road’ is an old road bed; it is now closed to vehicles so it is good for wheelers and slow walkers. The access the road from the parking lot rather than taking the Virgin Creek Trail from Highway 1.

Pet Friendly Notes

Much of this area is critical habitat for resting and nesting birds, so if you bring your leashed dogs, please keep them on the Haul Road that runs parallel to the beach.

For More Information, Contact:

Mendocino Coast Audubon Society


Virgin Creek Beach, MacKerricher State Park Birding