K-12 School Field Trip

K-12 Field Trips to California State Parks in Mendocino

Check out our popular guided field trip experiences in the Mendocino Sector of California State Parks. All listed K-12 school field trip experiences are free and available with no associated fees (Donations can be made to our partners and non-profit organizations). To explore other experiences that are not listed, please contact K-12 Field Trip Coordinator, Steve Jahelka, (707)309-4222, steve.jahelka@parks.ca.gov.

To ensure the safety of K-12 students while visiting California State Parks and reduce impact on park natural and cultural resources all K-12 school groups must reserve their available dates through the provided links below. For self-guided, or K-12 Field Trip other than those listed, submit a School Group Reservation Request Form at least one month prior to their proposed visit. Both guided and self-guided K-12 school field trips are subject to the approval of the Department of Parks and Recreation Staff including the K-12 Field Trip Coordinator and Special Events Coordinato

MacKerricher State Park

This scenic Highway 1 park is located just north of Fort Bragg. MacKerricher hosts a variety of habitats, including a Marine Protected Area that is sure to engage learners of every age. Visitors can travel along a cypress-enclosed ADA accessible boardwalk at MacKerricher’s Laguna Point to a harbor seal rookery, or down a set of stairs to the tide pools. Visitors may choose to walk or bike along the historic paved “Haul Road” that weaves along the coast or spend a sunny day on the beach. MacKerricher State Park is a free day-use park that is a great lunch spot for nature lovers of all ages and abilities. Guided educational activities offer a chance for students to explore colorful tide pools, view lively harbor seal rookeries, admire the history and shine of Glass Beach, explore a fully articulated gray whale skeleton, get crazy about kelp, and more! The Day-Use Picnic area has ample space for students to eat lunch and rest before or after the guided activities. Due to parking availability group size is limited to the equivalent of 1 school bus ~ 60 students.

Guided Activities:

For the best student experience, school groups should be assigned to groups of no more than 30 to minimize crowding of trails and reduce impact to natural resources.

For Self-Guided Field Trip Reservations, contact Interpreter I, Kat Gabrielson, (707)309-4211, katherine.gabrielson@parks.ca.gov

Please choose one location in MacKerricher State Park:

Laguna Point: (Duration: 2 hours, Distance: >1 mile, all ages, binoculars provided) “Dive in” to the unique habitats of tidepool creatures and harbor seals with this 2-hour in-person field trip experience! This provides you and your students the opportunity to join us for an immersive experience in MacKerricher State Park and the MacKerricher State Marine Conservation Area. Students will explore the MacKerricher State Park tidepools to find and identify common tidepool creatures, their unique adaptations, and potential threats to this fragile habitat. During this time, students will learn what a Marine Protected Area is and why these protected areas of the ocean are important. Students will then travel along the Laguna Point boardwalk to visit another incredible marine habitat- the harbor seal rookery! Students will use binoculars to observe these animals in their natural habitat and will learn about the many adaptations this marine mammal needs in order to survive.

Glass Beach: (Duration: 1.5 hours, distance: >1 mile, all ages) This long coastal park also hosts one of the most unique beaches of California- Glass Beach. This sea glass beach provides a tangible experience showing how damaging ecological decisions take decades of recovery. This “recovering garbage dump” is a testament to the power of community-based environmental activism and is a living example that the power of evolving environmental knowledge leads to positive change. Visitors will understand, through this beach’s harsh beauty, that we have the power to turn ecological decisions of the past into the beauty of our future. The protected artifacts of Glass Beach are a glimpse into the past and a link to our future. Students will explore the beach while learning about local history and global climate change. Students will work together in groups to apply what they learn about climate change and utilize problem-solving skills to design solutions to kelp forest loss and sea level rise!

Ward Avenue: (Duration: 2 hours, Distance: 2 miles, 4th grade and over, binoculars provided) Adventurers start their journey from Ward Avenue, where they can view silhouette of dunes in “10 Mile State Natural Reserve” while whale watching along the coast on their way to the Northern MacKerricher Harbor Seal Rookery. Students learn about the incredible migration of the Eastern Pacific Gray Whale and local conservation efforts that are credited with helping this creature return from the brink of extinction! Students will also visit one of MacKerricher’s Harbor Seal rookeries to observe and learn about the adaptations that this resilient animal uses to survive. This trip concludes in front of the fully articulated gray whale skeleton near the entrance of MacKerricher State Park.

Click Here to Reserve a Guided Field Trip to MacKerricher State Park!

For Self-Guided Field Trip Reservations, contact Interpreter I, Kat Gabrielson, (707)309-4211, katherine.gabrielson@parks.ca.gov

Hendy Woods State Park-

Located in Anderson Valley, along Highway 128, Hendy Woods acts as a great stop for those traveling any distance from inland locations to reach the coast. Our educational program offers guided redwood ecology hikes, nature journaling and bird watching expeditions as student activities. The park has ~5 miles of hiking trails, including the 1.5-mile accessible trail of Big Hendy Grove. The Day-Use Picnic area has ample space for students to eat lunch and rest between the offered activities. Due to parking availability group size is limited to the equivalent of 1 school bus ~60 students.

Guided Activities:

For the best student experience, school groups should be assigned to groups of no more than 30 to minimize crowding of trails and reduce impact to natural resources.

Please choose one or more of the following activities.

Redwood Ecology Hike: (Duration: 1-1.5 hours, Distance: ~1.5 miles ADA accessible. All Ages) Explore the majesty of an ancient coast redwood forest through Big Hendy Grove. Discover the intricate relationships between the associated flora and fauna of this ecosystem as well as the history of conservation that led to the protection of Hendy Woods State Park.

Nature Journaling: (Duration 1 Hour, recommended for 2 nd grade and up, journals and pencils are provided) Training the eye to make and record careful observations, nature journaling is a great supplemental activity for young learners. Students will receive a tutorial on how to make their observations using drawings, descriptive words and measurements. They will then have time to record their own observations of the surrounding plants and wildlife.

Bird Watching 101: (Duration 1 Hour, recommended for 3 rd grade and up, binoculars are provided) Birds are among the most diverse wildlife on the planet. Observed in nearly every ecosystem, this diversity can help students discover the numerous ways that animals adapt to their environment. Students will receive a brief tutorial on directional listening, and the use of binoculars. They will then be guided along the meadow and river trail and learn about bird adaptations.

Climate Change Field Science: (Duration 1 Hour, recommended for grades 7th -12) The redwood forest is known as one of the largest carbon sinks in the world, due to the forest’s ability to store large amounts of carbon dioxide within the plants and soils. To help demonstrate this, students will take part in a hands-on experience of environmental science, as they collect data in the field (measuring tree height and diameter) to calculate biomass and carbon storage, while documenting biodiversity.

Click Here to Reserve a Guided Field Trip to Hendy Woods!

For Self-Guided Field Trip Reservations, contact Interpreter I, Steve Jahelka, (707)309-4222, Steve.jahelka@parks.ca.gov

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve-

Located on Highway 1 just North of the town of Caspar, Jug Handle State Natural Reserve is a great place to experience the vast biodiversity of plant communities of the Mendocino Coast. Both guided and self-guided experiences are available. Due to parking limitations, buses are not recommended. Group sizes are limited to 30 students to prevent overcrowding of trails and minimize impact to natural resources.

Guided Activities:

Ecological Staircase Hike: (Distance ~5 miles round trip, moderate difficulty, duration 4 hours, ages 10 and up) John Olmstead, whose quick actions in 1972 halted the development of a hotel resort on this site, envisioned an outdoor classroom education what is now the Ecological Staircase Trail. The trail now traverses three terraces formed over 300,000 years of geological uplift and coastal erosion, allowing visitors to experience a wide range of plant communities and their responses to environmental factors.

For Field Trip Reservations to Jug Handle SNR, a School Group Reservation Request Form must be submitted at least 1 month prior to school visits. Please contact Interpreter I, Steve Jahelka, (707)309-4222, Steve.jahelka@parks.ca.gov