However charming and remarkable Glass Beach appears now, its history is even more incredible. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the residents of Fort Bragg hurled their municipal waste off of cliffs and into the ocean. Incredibly, local authorities and the private landowner did nothing to stop this practice until 1967, when the area known as “The Dumps” was officially closed. By that time the beach had been filled with tons of refuse.
Cleanup efforts began after that, and the land was eventually sold to the state and incorporated into MacKerricher State Park in 2002. Over the decades, the Pacific Ocean has churned and tumbled the cast-off glass into beautiful pieces of sea glass. Between erosion from waves and tourists collecting keepsakes, the supply of sea glass is dwindling, but for now there is still an abundant supply. In addition to the glass, you’ll notice a healthy tide pool population of crabs and sea anemones as well.
Glass Beach is located inside the city of Fort Bragg at the bottom of a rocky cliff. From the parking lot, follow the path between the grassy meadow and the construction yard fence. When the path comes to an junction, follow it to the far left. Here you will find a short but steep climb down to the shore.
The beach is relatively small, but it will keep you occupied for hours as you dig through the chunks of glass. If you come here to relax, the peaceful sound of glass tumbling over itself accompanies every wave. According to a local beachcomber, "The tide brings in new glass every day. Sometimes it will be all white glass, other days it is filled with a variety of colors."