By Meg McConahey

After recently upgrading my heavy, 1980s-era Nishiki Pueblo for a sleek little Trek hybrid I was eager to test drive my fast new ride.  I found the  perfect spot for an easy inaugural ride in Fort Bragg, along the Ten Mile Coastal Trail.

The name is a misnomer. The trail, also known as The Old Haul Road, got its name because it used to extend up to Ten Mile River. But if you’re a cyclist, you can realistically go only about 3.5 miles north from downtown Fort Bragg to MacKerricher Park. It’s a glorious ride over shoreline bluffs and beside dunes, with the ocean always to your side. It’s mainly a level ride so it’s perfect for beginners and yet the scenery is anything but boring.

This used to be an old logging road, so it still is blessed with an aging asphalt surface along most of its length.  Along the way we stopped several times to watch fat harbor seals lounging on the rocks and gray whales sounding up from the surf not far from the shore.  You may also spot a sea lion rookery and pass the nesting grounds for the endangered Snowy Plover at Virgin Beach.

You’ll wind up at MacKerricher State Park, where you can take a break or picnic beside placid Lake Cleone and make a restroom stop. The trail continues north another seven miles to Ten Mile River. But a stretch extending about a mile from MacKerricher washed out, so unless you’re super ambitious and are willing to traverse the washout with your bike on foot, you might be content to make this your turnaround point.

You can pick up the trail easily from downtown Fort Bragg. If you don’t have your own bike you can rent one at Fort Bragg Cyclery on Main Street.  And if you’ve got a car, avoid the two hour limits by parking in one of the city lots with unlimited parking. You can find one down Alder and another down Redwood that comes behind The Company Store.

Behind The Company Store follow the east side of the railroad tracks (if you go west  you’ll wind up in the train yard). A pathway will emerge that will take you to Pine Street. From there turn left onto Stewart. Follow that around several bends. It will be obvious eventually where you pick up the trail.