Pick any Northern California beach, and you're bound to enjoy some dramatic coastline, an abundance of wildlife, and lots and lots of driftwood.
Here on the northernmost corner of the Northern California coast, the beaches are prime for beachcombing. You can find agates, shells and the occasional fossil, plus there are fascinating tidepools to explore.
These places are wonderful for solitude and long walks. You won't want to go swimming, because the ocean here is cold and treacherous, but there are rivers, lakes, and quiet lagoons for that. There's so much else to do anyway.
Fishing is big here, both in the ocean and along the rivers, particularly the Klamath River. Hiking, camping, whale-watching, bird-watching and horseback riding are all popular activities at Northern California beaches. This is redwood country, where you can enjoy these lush forests and the coastline at the same time.
Northern California beaches are listed from north to south.
Pelican State Beach is the northernmost California beach, a wild and lonely place perfect for fishing, beachcombing and kite flying. There's plenty of driftwood, and grass-covered dunes. No facilities.
Tolowa Dunes State Park and the adjacent Lake Earl Wildlife Area are great spots for watching wildlife, hiking, fishing and camping. They feature abundant wildlife, two freshwater lagoons, hiking trails, horseback riding, and more.
Kellogg Beach, in the northern section of the park, is wide and sandy, with extensive dunes and marshes. You'll find parking and picnic tables. This is a good place to go beachcombing for agates, and fishing is allowed.
From the bluffs, take the long trail to the beach and rocky shoreline. You'll find beds of littleneck, razor and Washington clams at this Northern California beach. There's also rock fishing and smelt netting. Located at the end of Radio Road (Pebble Beach Drive) in Crescent City.
Redwood National Park and the three Redwood State Parks are rightfully famous for their impressive redwood forests, but they also feature 70 miles of Coastal Trail.
Enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, or beachcombing. Explore tidepools or take your horse on the equestrian trails. Watch elk graze or just gawk at the spectacular coastline.
The beaches listed below are all part of the complex of Redwood National & State Parks, which includes, from north to south:
You can download excellent PDF maps from the National Park Service.
This long strip of flat sandy beach in Redwood National Park is great for picnicking, kite flying, horseback riding and beachcombing. Surfers enjoy this beach, but the cold water makes wet suits a necessity. There are picnic tables in a grassy area and wheelchair accessible restrooms.
Crescent Beach Overlook is located on a bluff on the west side of Enderts Beach Road (old Highway 101). You can take the 2 mile trail from Crescent Beach Picnic Area to the Overlook, or drive. You'll get a stunning view of the beach from here. This is a great spot to watch the whales go by. The Overlook also has parking and a picnic area.
This isolated Northern California beach boasts excellent tidepools. Daily tidepool walks are offered during the summer at low tide.
The beach is accessible from Crescent Beach Overlook or from the parking area just south of the overlook. The trail to the beach is steep in places, but very scenic. Fishing is popular here.
It's only an easy half mile walk to primitive campsites at Nickel Creek, located alongside a stream and close to the beach. There are no facilities at the beach, but the camp has picnic tables, fire pits, bearproof lockers, and toilets. Part of Redwood National Park.
This half mile of sandy Northern California beach at False Klamath Cove is great for strolling and has some excellent tidepools at low tide. There's plenty of driftwood, and fishing is permitted. Facilities include parking, restrooms, firepits and picnic tables.
Located in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, off Highway 101, south of Wilson Creek Bridge.
Lagoon Creek is a fresh water lagoon stocked with trout. There's a self-guided Yurok Loop nature trail, which also provides access to Wilson Creek beach, the Coastal Trail, and Hidden Beach.
Facilities include picnic areas, parking, handicap accessible restrooms and firepits. Canoeing is popular here. Located in Redwood NP.
You can follow the Coastal Trail from Lagoon Creek just one mile south to Hidden Beach, where you'll find tidepools and the usual Northern California beach driftwood. (You can also access the trail to this beach at the north end of Motel Trees, 15494 Highway 101 South.) As the name implies, you might just have the beach to yourself.
If you'd like a longer hike, take the trail from Lagoon Creek 4 miles south to Requa Overlook (aka Klamath River Overlook) for dramatic views of the Klamath River valley and coastline. But you can also get here the easy way. It's located at the end of Requa Road/Patrick Murphy Memorial Drive off of Highway 101. Restrooms are available.
This is a good spot for whale watching during the migration season. The Klamath River is very popular for fishing. In the summer, interpretive walks are conducted. Located in Redwood NP.
If you're feeling adventurous, you might enjoy this drive. It's a narrow, winding scenic drive that will take you past expansive views of the Pacific Ocean.
The road is 8 miles long, with several pullouts. Stop at High Bluff Overlook for great views, with picnic tables, barbecue grills, and restrooms. The road is unpaved in parts and definitely not recommended for trailers or RVs. Located in Redwood NP.
More North Coast Beaches