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Situated on the Southern Side of MacKerricher State Park in Fort Bragg, Glass Beach is a very picturesque location. The name itself is very descriptive of the pebbly beach itself, as colorful crystal like glass fragments cover the inlet beach.
It may be hard to imagine that this natural beauty was once quite an eyesore. In 1906, Fort Bragg was hit by a big earthquake, leaving the houses in the area severely damaged. To get rid of the debris and the fallen homes, people threw the trash over the cliffs. In fact the area served as a dump location for households for over 60 years, until the dump site was closed in 1967 by the California State Water Resources Control Board.
Following the closure, there were many efforts and cleaning initiatives to remove the large trash from the area. However it was nature itself who did most of the work in creating such a magical location. Over the decades, the left over shards of glass, have been eroded and smoothed down by the waves. With the different type of glass leaving different shaded crystals creating a kaleidoscope of color.
There are also a myths surrounding the beach and its origins. It was believed that the glass crystal are the tears of mermaids crying for each and every soldier lost at sea. Another legend has it that a mermaid fell in love with a sailor, forcing Neptune to banish her causing her so much heart break that her tears were washed up ashore as glass crystals.
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Throughout the years the glass fragments on the beach have decreased drastically, be it from the sea washing the pieces away, as well as visitors taking crystal souvenirs home with them. As a result, in order to protect the beach it is now prohibited to take glass.
There are another 3 similar beaches in the area, who had similar beginnings, however Glass beach is the most popular. A 0.25mile trail following a path leads from the beach to a nearby parking lot, however it does tend to get full during peak times. There are multiple trails to follow, such as the one leading to Pudding Creek Beach, or other trails leading to other beaches on the southern side of the area, even outside of the state park. It is recommended to wear good footwear as there may be a need to climb over rocks to reach the beach.
Glass Beach is a phenomenal place to visit and a perfect representation of nature’s ability to create beauty from human’s destruction. Visiting during low tide, guarantees a better view as the beach is much larger showing more glass crystals, not to mention a number of tidal pools forming in the area.