Located just north of the newly minted Fort Bragg Coastal Trail, the MacKerricher Haul Road Trail is one of over 1,600 rail-trails across America. Previously this multi-use trail was an active rail corridor, but after the route was abandoned the rail bed was converted to a scenic coastal trail. And although the entire length is not wheelchair-accessible, a 1.25-mile section of the southern stretch is a good choice for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
The south section of the trail begins at the Pudding Creek Trestle, which is located a quarter-mile north of the new parking area at Noyo Headlands Park. Accessible parking is available in a small lot on Old Haul Road near the trestle, as well as in the new parking area. Additionally, a paved quarter-mile accessible trail leads from the new parking area to the trailhead, if you’d like to lengthen your walk a bit.
There’s level access to the Pudding Creek Trestle which offers a panoramic view of Glass Beach and the surrounding coastal area. After the trail crosses the trestle it passes in front of a collection of oceanfront hotels and condominiums. Although there’s a lot of bicycle traffic in this area, there’s still ample room for wheelchairs and pedestrians on the paved level trail.
About a half-mile up the trail there’s another parking area, next to the Beachcomber Motel, on Highway 1. The lot has plenty of accessible parking, accessible restrooms and ramp access up to the trail. It’s a good option if the other two lots are full or if you’d like to take a shorter hike.
From there it’s about .7-mile to the end of the accessible section of the trail. After that, the pavement is pitted and the grade gets progressively steeper. Still you can roll around the bad sections of pavement, so the defining end is the steep grade. Do as much of the trail as you can, then turn around. No matter how far you go, you’ll be wowed by the beautiful coastal views along the way.