Nature March 14, 2017
The Most Unusual Beach In Northern California Is Downright Fascinating
Tucked along the Mendocino Coast is a spectacular but unusual sight. Strange geologic spheres that are formed by a rare combination of elements are found here. Bowling Ball Beach, where you will find these curious rocks, is located in the Schooner Gulch State Beach area and will make for a fun day of exploration.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
You won't believe your eyes when you visit Bowling Ball Beach.
The so-called bowling balls are actually a geological phenomenon known as "concretion." It occurs when sedimentary rock is formed by a natural process where minerals cause grains of sand or stone to stick together into larger formations.
Visit the beach at sunset for a truly dramatic view.
These boulders are the result of millions of years of concretion and erosion, exposing the hard spheres as the mudstone of the cliffs receded around them.
You can find the trail to Bowling Ball Beach at mile marker 11.41 on Highway 1. It is about three miles south of Point Arena. You will see a sign saying "Park facing south only" where you can safely park your car on the west side of the road. The path that heads south leads to Schooner Gulch.
The beach is a little tricky to find, and you might want to wait until the stormy season is over before visiting.
Recent reports from visitors to the area warn that you should be prepared to walk over rough, rocky surfaces and driftwood to see the beach.
Follow the trail along the bluff and then scramble down a dirt path to find Bowling Ball Beach. The trail and the stairs down the cliff have eroded considerably in the past few winters, so be careful.
You will also want to research the tide flows before going. If you show up at high tide, all of the bowling balls will be under water.
Once you make it down to the beach covered with driftwood, turn so the ocean is on your left and walk north for about 5 minutes. If you timed it right with the tide, you will see the boulders.
Fans of Disney's Frozen might think that the bowling balls resemble the little trolls in hiding!
Although it is pretty unusual to see, the same geological phenomenon that created Bowling Ball Beach is what created the extraordinary Moeraki Boulders and Koutu Boulders in New Zealand, the Cannonball River in North Dakota, and a few other formations like these throughout the world.
The history of this spot is pretty interesting. It was originally inhabited by the Central Pomo Indians. The area was frequented by Russians and native Alaskan hunters as early as 1812, and by Mexican land owners in the 1840s. John Galloway, a Scotsman, was the first recorded occupant of the area in 1866.
This area is part of Schooner Gulch State Beach, which was originally an area used for timber milling.
The area is a really popular one for photographers trying to capture that perfect shot of these unusual formations.
The boulders are just one example of the beauty of the Northern Californian and Mendocino County coastline.
Have you ever been to the Bowling Ball Beach along the Mendocino Coast? For another story about a unique beach here in Northern California, read
The One Place In Northern California That Must Be Seen to Be Believed.