About Cape Mendocino Beach in Petrolia, California
Cape Mendocino is the westernmost point in Humboldt County and the entire state of California. There is a huge haystack shaped rock offshore at the point that is so large it is considered an island. Sugarloaf Island, as it is called, is visible from Mattole Road which gets you about as close to the point as possible. There is a beach right at the point (it’s not really a cape), but it is difficult to get to.
The Cape Mendocino Lighthouse used to be directly above the beach on the hillside (topo map of old lighthouse location), but it was moved to a new location at Mal Coombs Park in Shelter Cove. A new smaller unimpressive light has been installed in its place. While it is probably possible to hike up to the old lighthouse site, it is too steep and dangerous to reach the beach from there.
A large ranch owned by the Russ Ranch and Timber Company has blocked the closest access points to the beach. The only way to get to Cape Mendocino is to walk a long distance on the beach. To do this you would have to find the northernmost of the Mattole Road beaches and then walk north on the beach from there. This would be easier and safer at lower tides.
To get to this area, drive the Mattole Road from either Ferndale or Petrolia and then park near the second bridge south of the cape where it is easiest to access the shoreline. From there it is a beach trek of nearly two miles on a narrow sandy beach with drift logs along the way. If you take this route, don’t go up on the ranch property and be careful not to get trapped at the cape by the rising tide.
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