Jug Handle State Natural Reserve is located on the Mendocino coast. The park features a 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase which explores five wave-cut terraces formed by glacier, sea and tectonic activity that built the coast range. Each of the terraces was uplifted from sea level about 100,000 years before the one below it. Plants on each terrace represent a more advanced stage in succession, indicating what the previous, next lower terrace may look like in 100,000 years. The lowest terrace consists of prairie; the second is covered with pines; the third supports a unique pigmy forest with knee-high trees possibly several decades old.
This is a beautiful trail. Well kept up. It is pretty level the whole way until you head down to the ocean. Very accessible for children young and old (not stroller accessible for the most part). Ok to take you dog on leash only unless signs state otherwise. You'll love it!
As others have said an impressive range of environments from sea shore, through Shore pine and cypress, redwoods and firs to pigmy forest. I have hiked portions of this for the last two years because it can be accessed from Mitchell Creek Rd. and Gibney Ln as well as from the actual park. In Oct. through December it is a great place to see a wide variety of mushrooms.
It is a very easy trail, fairly well marked and a little too busy for me. I prefer a little more solitude.