Mad River County Park

This is one of the Redwood Coast's best beaches for picnics, beachcombing and fishing.

This is actually two parks. One is the beach, with coastal dunes and grasses behind the wave slope. Perfect for that long walk on the beach or hike around in the secret world of the dunes (great for those windy days when you want to hunker down out of the fray). MAP

The other is a large parking area, restroom and a boat ramp into the Mad River, just a couple of miles from where it joins the Pacific. The river here has a strong tidal influence, but even at low tide is deep enough for paddling canoes and kayaks either up or down-stream.

The fishing and wildlife viewing here are excellent.
This park offers the birder a combination of outer-coastal willow riparian and views of the muddy banks of the Mad River estuary, best for shorebirds at low water.
 
Watch for: Roosting Barn Owls in holes in the high bluffs across the river. Black-capped Chickadees American Redstarts have nested here, and good vagrants have included Philadelphia Vireo, Connecticut and Worm-eating Warblers, and Summer Tanager.
Dogs:
Permitted to be unleashed if under complete control by owner, on the beach. "Control" means that the dog is within view and within voice range of the owner, that the dog comes at first calling, and that the dog does not approach people in a threatening manner or in any way harass people, wildlife, other dogs, or horses.   Owner must pick up and dispose of animal waste.   Exit west onto the Giuntoli Lane interchange off Hwy 101 north of Arcata proper, then turn north onto Heindon Road. At 0.4 miles on Heindon, turn left (west) onto Miller Road. At 0.8 mile on Miller Road, turn right (north) on Mad River Road. At 2.7 miles turn right into a large parking lot (with boat ramp and Mad River access), or continue straight ahead till you reach the beach parking area.