Ward Ave. & Mackerricher State Park (Fort Bragg Haul Road)

 

Extremely Stroller-Friendly!

Personal Connection: I ran my very first 10K on this road way back in 2005ish. It was the Soroptomist Whale Run, and it still happens yearly in March. 

Choose your distance--flat and fast--5K to 1/2 marathon if you're game! Convenient toilets, epic views of the ocean, and seasonal seals and whales to those who keep their eyes on the waves. Everyone's happy on this road!
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Run Profile: From Ward Avenue, begin your warm up by walking to the edge of the road (north), and then turn around and start toward the "meat" of your journey (south). You will see mazing views of a truly azure sea. In the fog, it looks like ghost pirate ships might overtake you at any moment. In the sun, you may be blinded by the light's reflection on the foamy and crystaline water. The beaches on this stretch are pale and soft and sandy, and you can always cut off and run on the headlands or down onto the sand if you feel like it.

 

About 1 to 1 1/2 mile into your run, you'll hit Lake Cleone and the Mackerricher area. When not closed for repairs, the "Lake" Cleone loop is an exceptionally fun add-on to this run. It starts with bouncy boardwalk and winds around to a dirt path through lovely trees. You are likely to see some ducks or perhaps even a heron resting on the water. 

 

Once you reach Mackerricher, if you choose to jog along the boardwalk, you may have to dodge around a few walkers. Everyone's in such a good mood, it is usually just fine. Watch for seals sunbathing on the rocks. The views are picturesque and inspiring, and remind me why I run. Stay on the headlands trails for a while and you'll be well rewarded with festive zips among the tress and a general feeling of being one with nature before a patch of mud might drive you back up to Haul Road (or not).

 

The rest of Haul Road from Mackerricher to the Haul Road parking lot is not exceptional, in that it is par for the course in epic beauty and faubulousness. You will find a batchroom at the Haul Road parking area. If you're doing a 10K turn around now. If you are up for more, keep going over the bridge to the Coastal Trail add-on, and have a great run!

 

Directions: From Fort Bragg proper, drive north on Highway 1/Main Street until you reach one of the parking options on your left-hand side.
 
Parking: There are three options for this route. Park at Ward Avenue, in Cleone (The street sign is clear.) to start at the northern most point of the road. The Marckerricher parking lot is roughly 1 mile south of Ward Ave. The third option is the Haul Road parking area just north of Fort Bragg proper. There are bathrooms at Mackerricher and Haul Rd. parking lots. You can get a 5 or 10-K in either palce (out-and-back), but you'll want to park at either end for 13 miles or roughly more/less.
 
Popularity: This is a highly-used path. There are places you can duck away for some business, but there are also bathrooms at regular intervals. There is a water fountain at the Elm Street/Coastal Trail parking lot, and I will update with further water additions. Huge plus: much fun is to be had by encounters throughout your run. You may see our local radio personality Joe Regalsky out for his daily walk. You may spy happy families biking, people running and walking, groups on horseback, and all manner of diverse locals and visitors enjoying the ethos of the coast. Why not indulge in a game of who will wave back?