The Old Haul Road is a must-do for all who visit Fort Bragg and Mendocino. For those of us blessed to call the coast home, the old haul road serves as the local promenade. I choose to usually ride about three miles round trip, though there is a bit more road if one desires a longer ride or walk. The haul road once served for logging trucks hauling their loads to the mill; now it is purely for pedestrians and bicyclists, and offers unbroken views of the ocean and numerous paths to the beaches, including Virgin Creek Beach and MacKerricher.
If you would like to see the trip in a map form, head to my Trimble Outdoors map. There I’ve marked where to park, where the nearest restroom is, and great spots to stop and take a photo.
Now that the train trestle has been restored, the parking lot at its south end serves as the start of the bike ride. The trestle stretches above Pudding Creek Beach and offers a great photo vantage. Continue along past the hotels and on to the beautiful old windswept cypress tree. Those on foot can diverge from the road and onto one of the many footpaths on the coastal bluffs. Don’t get too close to the edge though, they crumble more and more each year.
One of my favorite spots along the road is the Virgin Creek bridge. There are always waterfowl swimming about on the pool above the bridge. On this last ride there were two families of Canada geese with goslings–a wonderful sight on a summer day. The incline of the road above the bridge is often covered in sand, offering a bit of an obstacle for bicyclists.
Along the road in spring and early summer the ice plant, or chalk fingers as it is sometimes called, will bloom pink, purple, and yellow. The succulent thrives in the sand and covers the coastal shores in thick blanketing swaths, while purple lupine attract bees and butterflies.
While I only rode to about 1 1/2 miles up the road, those up for a longer ride or walk can go on to MacKerricher. There the road has been eroded by the sand and wind, so to continue on, pedestrians may walk the beach, and bicyclists can use MacKerricher Park Road to bypass the portion of the haul road that has been lost. MacKerricher is next in my posts, so be sure to check back next week to learn more about what the park has to offer.
Have you taken a stroll or ride on the Old Haul Road?
If you’re looking for a room on the coast and would like to have the Old Haul Road at your doorstep, The Beachcomber Motel and The Ocean View Lodge have rooms that open right onto the road. If you didn’t bring along your own bike, there are several businesses that rent them for a day or weekend, including The Beachcomber.