Coastal Trail Guide

Mendocino Land Trust

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Jug Handle Ecological Staircase Trail

Parking iconRestrooms iconADA iconVisitor Center iconPicnic Tables iconCamping iconStairs iconNo Cell Reception iconBeach Access iconCliff Edge iconWildlife Viewing iconWetlands / Stream iconTide Pools iconWhale Watching iconSCUBA / Snorkeling iconModerate Trail icon

No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

The Jug Handle ecological staircase trail features a great family beach at its west end and the intriguing and unique pygmy forest three miles to the east. The ecological staircase is a series of several marine terraces, each with its own geology, soils, and plant communities. Of note, Jug Handle has received a "Natural National Landmark" designation because of the site's unique natural history. 

The map shows some of the many entry points to this trail, from the north and east. The Jug Handle Farmhouse offers a variety of overnight accommodations for those interested in learning about the fascinating story of John D. Olmsted and his vision for the "Across California Trail," the Jug Handle ecological staircase, as well as the natural history of the Mendocino Coast.

The 5-mile round trip trail from the ocean bluff to the Pygmy Forest can also be a one-way hike, accessing the ecological staircase trail via the Gibney Lane fire road at the south end of Gibney Lane.  You can walk the 0.5 miles uphill to the Pygmy Forest using the fire road, then hike down the trail to the ocean bluff, assuming you have a shuttle driver to take you back to your car. The Pygmy Forest terraces extend from the third terrace up to the fourth and fifth terraces, and since the path is at times unclear, it's best to walk this part of the trail with a guide. For those who need to leave the hike early, there is a shortcut back to Gibney Lane near a llama farm. This shortcut can be located by looking for the overhead electrical wires just before the trail back to Gibney Lane.

The Jug Handle Farm provides a campground and cabins, as well as a Farmhouse lodging for those who may want to stay overnight. To schedule a guided trail walk, contact Jug Handle at (707) 964-4630 or (707) 937-3498.

Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

Jug Handle Trail trail map

Click or tap to view the full-size map.

Jug Handle Farm has ecological staircase maps as well as State Parks trail maps available.

Trail Latitude (X): 39.375

Trail Longitude (Y): -123.817

Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

Highway One Mile Marker (north end): 57

Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 55.75

Trail Length: 2.5 miles