The park has a beach, sand dunes, and flat grasslands, with nearly 18,000 feet of ocean frontage. The beach line curves gently to form a "catch basin" for sea debris, which accounts for the volume of driftwood found here. Five miles of gentle, sandy beach stretches southward towards the Point Arena Lighthouse.
One of the main attractions is the excellent steelhead and salmon fishing in the park?s two streams, Brush Creek and Alder Creek.
The park features a variety of coastal wildflowers, including sea pinks, poppies, lupines, baby blue eyes and blue irises. The park provides habitat for tundra swans. The San Andreas Fault runs into the sea at the park.
The park takes its name from the village of Manchester, which is located in Mendocino County on Coast Highway 1 about seven miles north of Point Arena.
This is an area of rich grazing lands flocks of sheep and herds of cattle which add a pastoral note to some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world.
Temperatures seldom rise above 72 nor dip below 50 . Rainfall is heavy from September to May, and morning and evening fog is common during the summer months. Strong winds prevail year-round.
To Alder Creek is 5 miles round tripThe elements that comprise a wild beach?wind, waves, and wood, seem just a little bit bigger than life at Manchester State Beach.
The Monterey cypress windbreaks on the bluffs and driftwood wind shelters visitors have constructed on the beach hint at the high winds in this area. So strong are the breezes that blow over this beach, the prudent hiker is advised to call ahead for a ?wind report.?
If a prize was awarded to the state beach with the most impressive driftwood collection, Manchester might just be the one to win. Huge logs tossed up by the sea lie in jumbled piles at the foot of sand dunes. Like cannons defending a coastal fortiﬁcation, other large logs aim seaward from the base of the bluffs.
The state beach extends ﬁve miles from just above the mouth of Garcia Creek to the mouth of Alder Creek. Steelhead spawn in Alder Creek, which offers resting and nesting habitat for wintering waterfowl.
Near Manchester?s south boundary is the landmark Pt. Arena Lighthouse. Docents lead tours of the lighthouse, ﬁrst built in 1870, then rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake. The tower still holds the original Fresnel Lens, which cast a beam visible to ships 20 miles out to sea.
Manchester?s beach is complemented by a sizeable upland area. Instead of the usual out-and-back-beach walk characteristic of most state or county beaches, Manchester offers the hiker a loop trail tour of dark sand, ponds, bluffs and dunes.
Directions to trailhead: From Highway 1 in the hamlet of Pt. Arena, drive north 7 miles to Kinney Road and the signed Manchester State Beach turnoff. Turn left and follow the signs to the lot at road?s end beyond the park?s campground.
The hike: Cross the low dunes to the beach and head north. Great logs lie in heaps at the base of the dunes. Beach-goers have fashioned some intriguing wind shelters from material tossed up by the restless sea.
A mile out, you?ll pass the outlet of a pond. Soon the low dunes bordering the beach give way to tall bluffs. Almost two miles along, you?ll reach the mouth of Alder Creek and a connector trail that leads up to paved Alder Creek Road. Walk the road about 150 yards to the gated trail taking off from the west side of the road. A half mile of hiking brings you to a condemned wreck of a beach house. A bit farther is Osprey, one of the park?s environmental campsites. The route passes more of these walk-in camps as it heads south across the dunes.
From the last camp, improvise a route oceanward toward the above-mentioned pond outlet and join the south-trending trail over the low bluffs. When the trail turns inland, head for the coast and walk a mile along the beach back to the trailhead.
Close to Calistoga, Napa Valley and Lake County Vineyards, and Harbin Hot Springs in the Mayacama Mountains, and 2 hrs away from San Francisco or Sacramento. Backyard Garden Oasis is an exquisite respite for those wanting a nature-filled retreat surrounded by some of Californias most beautiful country.