Jug Handle State Reserve
Rock terraces forced from the ocean
California is packed with geological surprises but seldom is the impact of underground energies as visible or as easy to examine as it is at Jug Handle State Park, where a series of 100-ft rock terraces has been driven – at 100,000-year intervals – up from the ocean by the action of plate tectonics. Once the terraces surface, they are shaped by wave erosion and steadily rise higher, acquiring vegetation as they do so.
Half a million years of evolution can be assessed in an hour or so by following the Ecological Staircase Trail, which climbs the terraces. As you ascend, look out for the stunted cypress and pine trees forming the peculiar Mendocino Pygmy Forest on the third level.