The Mystery of Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach

Many who know me know how special the Glass Beach in Fort Bragg has been for me recently. It’s a place I have been talking about visiting for years that I was just unable to get to. Fort Bragg is a solid 8-9 hours away from Los Angeles, so as someone who works all the time, it’s been next to impossible to visit. However, it’s been on my bucket list to visit the Glass Beach for Weird World Adventures since we began envisioning new episodes of my strange adventure show.

So, I was beyond lucky this summer when my work brought me up into Northern California, and I finally got to spend time in Fort Bragg and… VISIT THE GLASS BEACH! It was a real adventure, and I was lucky enough to capture it on film for Weird World Adventures, too.

What is the Glass Beach?

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Back in the early 1900s, the town of Fort Bragg would use the ocean as a dump. Glass products, car parts, and garbage, in general, were all thrown into the water where the Glass Beach can be found today. Over time, anything that was biodegradable was broken down. The car parts were removed out of the water. And this left the glass. The glass bottles and pieces thrown into the ocean were smoothed out and turned into glittering, colorful crystals over time. Nature literally turned trash into something magical. So, the glass beach is actually a beach with glass that is scattered across its sand.

It’s Current State

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To get to the glass beach, you can just quickly and easily plug it into Google Maps. However, I will warn you with information that no one had given me that I discovered for myself along my adventure! The pin on Google Maps for the glass beach is not placed where the beach actually is. I’m not sure if this is just a mistake or if it was purposely moved, as the official Glass Beach has been closed since 2017. During severe storms in 2017, the stairs down to the Glass Beach were washed away, and it has not since been repaired. In fact, the fence was closed off, and yellow tape was placed around it to keep people out. This doesn’t exactly stop adventurous treasure hunters from heading down into the Glass Beach from nearby rocks, as it is possible to climb down, but it is dangerous and currently illegal to do so.

Personally, I think the pin was moved so people could still see the small pieces of crystal at a nearby beach. I don’t think they’re planning to rebuild the stairs, at least not any time soon, as people were regularly visiting the Glass Beach and taking the crystal pieces home with them. This is a terrible thing to do, by the way! I think it’s so important to respect the beach and leave it as you find it so many others can come and enjoy it, too. But, unfortunately, treasure hunters were coming and taking pieces, which was quickly depleting the glass beach of, well, it’s glass. So, I think the lack of stairs and added fences now make it harder for these treasure hunters to come grab the crystals. This, in theory, should help recover the beach a little more as time goes on, making it as beautiful as it once was. This is, of course, just my theory. though.

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However, you can still experience the beauty of what nature did to what was once trash! Just because the beach is closed doesn’t mean the coves and sandy sections directly to the right and left of it are. So, you can still basically experience the magic of the glass beach. There may not be pieces that are quite as large, but there are still plenty of sandy nooks you can find legally around the old glass beach that have tiny little pieces of crushed, rounded glass pebbles and crystals. And it’s beautiful. I went out where we could go and just walked around the small crystals in awe.

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They are MUCH smaller than you would think they would be after seeing photos, but it’s all a trick of perspective. Most glass beach photos have the camera so close to them without a perspective point, so they look so much larger. However, these pieces are all pretty small, but that doesn’t deter from their beauty. It’s still worth the journey to come out and see the result of nature working its wonder by turning pieces of trash into a beautiful beach filled with small crystals. And let’s hope people learn to be respectful and that they build the stairs and open the beach up again soon.

Malorie Mackey

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer based out of Los Angeles, California. Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book. Stay tuned as Malorie travels the world bringing its beauty and wonder to you.

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