360° VR Panoramas of the Northern California Coast, Coast Ranges, and Redwood Highway
Jug Handle Creek Ecological Staircase
Jug Handle Creek State Reserve, near Mendocino, California

The Mendocino coast has been uplifted periodicaly through geologic time, resulting in a series of terraces increasing in age as they rise inland. At Jug Handle Creek the "staircase" of terraces display distinct soils and vegetation, interpeted along a four mile trail.

Terrace zero is being created at sea level, the intertidal and beach zones. Immediately above it comes coastal prairie and forests of beach pine, Bishop pine, and Sitka spruce. Next inland grow tall forests of noble fir, then redwood and Dougls fir.

The oldest soils, on the highest terraces, are depleted of nutrients and drain poorly, creating a unique pigmy forest, with mature pine and cypress trees dwarfed to less than a meter tall.


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Headlands at Jug Handle Creek, near Mendocino

Headlands at Jug Handle Creek, near Mendocino

Coastal prairie on the headlands, start of the Ecological Staircase Trail

Jug Handle Creek State Reserve, California

Date photographed: November 16, 2012
See location in Google Maps

Beach and Highway 1 Bridge at Jug Handle Creek

Beach and Highway 1 Bridge at Jug Handle Creek

Cove and Highway 1 bridge at Jug Handle Creek

Jug Handle Creek State Reserve, California

Date photographed: November 16, 2012
See location in Google Maps

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