MacKerricher State Park is a California destination that’s full of nature and places to explore.
Did you know that in just this one state park, there are actually eight different habitats to see? There are beaches, coves, dunes, forests, a fresh water lake, headlands, tide pools, and wetlands to be discovered.
With so much to do and see, how do you know where to start?
That’s our job! We’ve done the work of gathering the major things MacKerricher State Park camping has to offer you and have put them together in categories of things to do, places to stay, and what to pack, so that you can be fully prepared to enjoy your trip there.
Read on for a complete guide to MacKerricher State Park camping!
A Complete Guide to MacKerricher State Park Camping
What to Do
It may be hard to believe, but this list may not even be totally exhaustive. There are that many things to do and see on a MacKerricher State Park camping trip! We want to take some time to highlight eight of the best things you can spend time doing during your visit.
The beaches at MacKerricher are pristine. There are several to choose from, depending on what you’re hoping to do at the beach.
The Main Beach is nearest to the campground, but has some dangeous wave patterns that make it not idea for casual swimming. This is the beach to visit if you’d like to just sit on the sandy shore and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks, or to play some games up on the sand.
Virgin Creek Beach
Virgin Creek Beach is the perfect beach for families on a MacKerricher State Park camping trip. This large swatch of sand is situated at the mouth of Virgin Creek. Kids can play in the creek water without fear of rip currents that can be found in the ocean water nearby.
This is also the closest beach to a lot of tide pools. If you visit during low tide, make sure you go check that area out for some local wildlife. Remember, look with your eyes, not with your hands!
Because of it’s world-wide fame, Glass Beach gets its own section. What started as a trash dump has been transformed into a beautiful beach, thanks to the power of Mother Nature.
Over time, all of the glass bottles that were dumped there by locals have been worn away by the elements—wind, waves, and sand—and have left behind beautiful pieces of colorful glass that mixes in with the natural pebbles of the area.
Thousands of visitors a day over many, many years have left the beach with much less of the beautiful glass from which it gets its name. While it’s illegal to take any pieces with you, unfortunately it hasn’t always stopped people from taking souvenirs.
As recently as 2015, there’s been a push to add more recycled glass to the beach in order to bring Glass Beach back to its former glory.
There’s still plenty of glass for it to be worth your time, especially with young kids. They can explore and enjoy finding all of the buried treasure this beach has to offer guests enjoying a MacKerricher State Park camping trip!
With the proper fishing lisence, guests are invited to fish directly into the ocean from the shoreline. You can also venture over to Lake Cleone and try your luck at catching some bass.
Make sure to check the Current Fishing Regulations before you go so you know what fish you can keep and what fish you need to put back out.
There are three different trails you can explore on your MacKerricher State Park camping trip. The first is more moderately challenging and the other two are considered easy hikes.
Haul Road Coastal Trail to Laguna Point
This 5.6 mile trip takes you from Haul Road, up to Laguna Point, and back. The entire time, you’ve got sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline. In May, wildflowers are blooming. It’s a popular trail for bird watchers.
It usually takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete at a comfortable pace.
Laguna Point Boardwalk Loop
This 1.4 mile loop trail is boardwalk the whole time, making it ideal for families with young children or anyone who finds uneven ground to be a challenge.
On this trail, you’ll see the gorgeous cliffs that jut out into the ocean and beautiful seashore. It’s typically pretty busy, but you may be able to get some quiet moments to yourself if you go earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
Virgin Creek Trail
This 1.2 mile in and out trail will take you from Hwy 1, along Virgin Creek, to the bluffs and beach next to where the creek meets the ocean. You can even use a paddle board down this creek along the trail for a change of pace!
Ricochet Ridge Ranch is a third-party provider that leads horseback riding groups up and down the beaches of MacKerricher State Park.
Guests 6 years and older, enjoying a MacKerricher State Park camping trip can book a tour, no matter their experience level. The company offers one-hour and three-hour tours.
Junior Ranger Program
The Junior Ranger Program is ran by the state of California and offers kids 2-12 extra activities to learn more and experience nature for themselves.
The activities available during any give MacKerricher State Park camping trip may vary, but they may sometimes include things such as:
- playing games
- hiking trails
- discovering tracks
- observing wildlife
- creating your own animal
Check the Visitor Center for details during your trip.
Any time between October and May, you can head out to Laguna Point via the Boardwalk loop to sit and look for harbor seals.
There’s a chance you’ll see a seal at any point in those months, but your chances increase in cooler months like January and February.
Laguna Point is also where you can sit and watch for whales during your MacKerricher State Park camping trip.
Grey Whales migrate right past this point every single year from December through April.
Where to Stay
MacKerricher State Park Campground
This campground has more than 140 spots for tents, campers, and RVs to enjoy year-round. Be aware, there are no hookups at this campground.
Many of the camping sites are shaded by large, mature trees and there are two group campsites that can be home base to as many as 60 campers!
Every campsite is equipped with a picnic table, fire pit, and charcoal grill. There are bath houses with flushing toilets and hot water for all of the MacKerricher State Park camping guests.
What to Pack
A lot of times, when you’re planning a trip to a new place, the biggest unknown is “What should I bring?!” Well, here’s your answer!
Temperatures in this are of the country only average between 55°-68°F year round. It’s never really too cold or too hot, but what you wear depends heavily on what you’re planning on doing.
In general, it’s a good idea to pack in layers. Long johns, jeans, or even convertible shorts are good options for bottoms. Bring some tank tops, t-shirts, long sleeved tops, and jackets for cooler nights.
Sturdier shoes are necessary for a lot of the hiking available, but flip flops can be worn on the beach and boardwalk trail.
Also, make sure to pack a rain jacket for any wet weather you may encounter!
Items for Activities
Make sure you bring items to do whatever activities you’ve got planned. Fishing gear, mountain bikes, hiking sticks, or picnic gear are all things you’ll want to consider.
Wrapping up MacKerricher State Park Camping
Hopefully by now you feel ready to enjoy your first time experiencing MacKerricher State Park camping! This state park has so much to offer that you’re sure to find something your family will love.
For more camping tips and tricks, check out our page full of Campground Guides!