Point Cabrillo Light Station SHP
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[Map by Dennis Freeze]
Just five miles south of the Fort Bragg City Limits, this state park and nature preserve is one of the most complete (restored) light stations in America. Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association received state and national awards for restoring eight of the nine structures to their original 1909 condition. The 100-year-old lighthouse – with its British-built Fresnel Lens operates as a Federal Aid to Navigation.
Trails crisscross the preserve and lead you to a shipwreck site and Pomo Indian middens. As one of the most westerly points on the coast, it’s the best place to view migrating whales, spot harbor seals and sea lions and, of course, watch sea birds –- from black oyster catchers and cormorants to gulls and pelicans.
More than 100 Years Old
Built in 1909 to protect lumber schooners plying the coast, the lighthouse now houses a gift shop (bring your wallet when you walk the ½ mile from the parking lot to the lighthouse) and history exhibits.
Pomo Indian History
You’ll get a glimpse of 20,000 years of Pomo Indian history and the Frolic Shipwreck (1850) in Frolic Cove, which led to the discovery of huge stands of virgin redwoods and settlements with saw mills along the Mendocino Coast. One of three lightkeeper houses is now a period museum where you’ll see how the original keepers and their families lived in the early 1900s.
Point Cabrillo Drive, 5 miles south of Fort Bragg.
A few miles if you walk around the entire 300 acres; 1-mile roundtrip if you walk just to the lighthouse and back from the visitor center parking area.
From your Fort Bragg lodging, drive about five miles to Point Cabrillo Drive (make a right turn heading west) and follow it for two miles.
Easy. However, the walk from the parking area to the lighthouse and ocean is 1/2 mile downhill (then uphill coming back).
Who should go
Suitable for all ages, interests and abilities if you can walk at least a mile (to the lighthouse and back).
Wheelchair accessible. Dogs – on leash – are welcome in the lighthouse and on the trails. State Park rules apply. Handicapped parking is located down the hill near the lighthouse. The main road and walkway to the lighthouse is paved with wheelchair access ramp and doors on the ocean side of the lighthouse.
What to bring
Picnic, camera, binoculars, your wallet (for some great stuff in the lighthouse).
Count on it being cool. Fog in summer. Wind in the afternoon is normal. Layer up. On a breezeless, sunny day, you’ll be okay in a short sleeve t-shirt.
Best advice (from the Ocean Safety Coalition)
“Be swept away by the beauty, not by the waves. “ Keep a respectable distance from the cliff’s edge and don’t climb down on the rocks. Sneaker waves are common. The waves are powerful and water cold (54 degrees).
Free, although the lighthouse asks for a small voluntary donation at the entrance.