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State Park News of Mendocino County

Jug Handle Photo

Jug Handle State Reserve Staying Open One More Year!

Well there is a total of eight parks that are on the California hit list, here in Mendocino county. Here is the update on which ones will remain open and what is still happening on the remaining parks.

  1. Russian Gulch State Park
  2. Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area
  3. Westport-Union Landing
  4. Jug Handle State Reserve
  5. Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park
  6. Greenwood Museum & State Beach
  7. Hendy Woods State Park
  8. Manchester State Park

Russian Gulch State Park will remain open to the public this year. This park was acquired in 1933 and has 7,630 feet of ocean frontage and has the rugged headlands which features the Devil’s Punch Bowl (a large, collapsed sea cave with churning water) and a beach that offers swimming, tide pool exploring, skin diving and rock fishing. Inland, there is a 36 foot high waterfall. Hikers enjoy miles of hiking trails, and the park has a paved 3 mile bicycle trail and of course the park offers great camping. Russian Gulch State Park is only 2 miles north of Mendocino on Highway 1.

Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area is located 1.5 miles North of Leggett on Highway 101 and is the “gateway to the tall trees country”. The area offers camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, and swimming on he south fork of the Eel River which winds through the park for 2 miles. The park encompasses 1,012 acres. Beginning May 1, 2012 Standish Hickey State Recreation Area will be closed to vehicles and camping. However, there will be hike and bike campsites available and the Taber Trailhead across the park will remain open.

Team Standish and the surrounding communities, non profits and tribal citizenry are vital to the success of the park. Team Standish with their passion for the park, are contributing admirable expertise and time, have worked hard to put all of this together. They are the guiding inspiration for the movement to save the park and the ones who contacted MAPA requesting a collaboration.

MAPA is still in negotiations for Standish-Hickey as of May 23, 2012. The proposal is now in the hands of the state parks staff in Humboldt District who will review the document, and will contact MAPA if they have any questions or suggestions. Once satisfied they will send the proposal to Sacramento for their review. If Sacramento considers the proposal viable, then they might request a conference call with MAPA for further discussion. If all goes well, then negotiations will commence working out a final agreement.

Westport-Union Landing offers several small sandy beaches and one large beach that covers over 3 miles of rugged and scenic coastline, with 86 campsites in 3 campgrounds on the bluffs overlooking the pacific ocean. Surf fihsing and night fishing located at the mouth of Howard Creek are captured in nets while the fish come near shore to spawn. Several kinds of rock fish and abalone are taken when tides and ocean conditions are right. There are magnificent vistas, sunsets and tree covered mountains in the background provide an inspiring backdrop to the park.

Until further notice the Westport Union Landing State Beach will contain areas where services are reduced or eliminated due to the fiscal crisis. Currently a proposal is being considered by a local American tribe.

Jug Handle State Reserve is located 1 mile north of Caspar on the Mendocino coast. The park features a 2.5 mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase which explores 5 wave cut terraces formed by glacier, sea and tectonic activity that built the coast range. each of the terraces was uplifted from sea level about 100,000 years before the one below it. Plants on each terrace represent a more advanced stage in succession, indicating what the previous, next lower terrace may look like in 100,000 years. The lowest terrace consists of prairie, the second is covered with pines, the third supports a unique pygmy forest with knee-high trees. From the parking lot it also offers an access to the beach.

Alden Olmsted (Olmsted Park Fund – ODF) and the California State Park Foundation (CSPF) donated $19,000 to keep Jug Handle open one more year. These funds will allow the local state parks to keep this unique place open to the public, but with minimal service.

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is currently on a month-by-month concession agreement. Minimal services. Trash reduction – removal of trash cans. “Pack it in, pack it out”. Restrooms; closure of fulsh restroom at Visitor Center. Portable toilet installed at Visitor Center. Flush restroom available at light Station. Park Office also is closed.

The preserve occupies a spectacular headland thrusting out into the Pacific Ocean. Park and walk the half-mile down the access road to explore the Light Station. It is comprised of the lighthouse and three original lightkeepers’ houses and outbuildings. The fully restored  lighthouse is open 365 days a year from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The preserve grounds are open for pedestrian use from sunrise to sunset daily. Accessible parking is available in front of the light station residences.

Greenwood Museum & State Beach. MAPA has committed to operating the museum. The community and parks are working together to encourage partners to step forward to help keep this open.

Greenwood State Beach offers beach access and a picturesque view of the Pacific Ocean. The central theme is of Greenwood as a lumber town in the late 1800′s through the early 1900′s.

The Visitor Center is in the middle of town and provides a glimpse of what life was like in this lumber town during the late 1800′s.  The gallery room and main museum room are filled with photographs of the early settlers of Greenwood and nearby Cuffey’s Cove, as well as photographs of the town and it’s lumbering operations during that era. There is an additional room filled with period furniture including an organ, stove, washing machine, steamer trunk, and bath tub. Outdoors, you will find artifacts which were used in the lumber camps to harvest the redwoods and bark from the tan oak trees.

Upon entering the Visitor Center you will see a mural depicting the Greenwood wharf, painted by well known muralist Michael Cole. The wharf, which was built by the L.E. White Lumber Company, had a unique design as it was built on a series of outcropping rocks into the ocean. The schooners would tie to the wharf while loading redwood lumber, tan bark, railroad ties and passengers all destined for San Francisco. The ultimate destination of the railroad ties was China.


Hendy Woods State Park features two virgin redwood groves; Big Hendy with a self-guided discovery trail and Little Hendy. The Navarro River runs the length of the park.

Located in the middle of the Anderson Valley wine district, this park is warmer and less foggy than most redwood parks along the coast. The park is well known for a fallen redwood stump that was home for a man known locally as the Hendy Woods Hermit.

Hendy Woods is located in one of the most scenic areas of southwestern Mendocino County.  It is eight miles northwest of Boonville, a half-mile south of Highway 128 on picturesque Philo-Greenwood Road.

Facilities – Activities
The 25 picnicking sites are located near the banks of the Navarro River in full view of Big Hendy Grove. There is no need to bring either wood, charcoal or presto-logs as wood is available at the ranger station.
Visitors are asked not to gather wood within the park as this downed material is needed to provide humus for the surrounding vegetation.

Two miles of nature trails guide the visitor through both Big and Little Hendy Groves. While hiking, please stay on the trail so that the forest floor will maintain its beauty untrammeled for generations to come. Fishing has not been allowed in the park for several decades. Fishing is permitted in the Navarro River watershed down river from the bridge at the park entrance. Swimming is popular in summer, as is kayaking and canoeing in late winter and early spring. The park also features interpretive exhibits, Junior Ranger nature walks, and campfire programs.

Manchester State Park; Groups have stepped forward and are working on how to keep the park open.

Manchester State Park features a beach, sand dunes, and flat grasslands, with nearly 18,000 feet of ocean frontage. The beach line curves gently to form a “catch basin” for sea debris, which accounts for the volume of driftwood found here. Five miles of gentle, sandy beach stretches southward towards the Point Arena Lighthouse.

One of the main attractions is the excellent steelhead fishing in the park’s two streams, Brush Creek and Alder Creek.

The park features a variety of coastal wildflowers, including sea pinks, poppies, lupines, baby blue eyes and blue irises. The park provides habitat for tundra swans. The San Andreas Fault runs into the sea at the park.
The park takes its name from the village of Manchester, which is located in Mendocino County on Coast Highway 1 about seven miles north of Point Arena.  This is an area of rich grazing lands, flocks of sheep and herds of cattle which add a pastoral note to some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world.

The main park entrance is located at 44500 Kinney Lane (off Hwy 1), 1/2 mile north of the town of Manchester.

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