Forty miles north of Mendocino, Highway 1 heads inland to join Highway 101. To the west the Pacific Coast is almost inaccessable for the next 50 miles until Shelter Cove. Fortunately, part of the old Humboldt trail, a stagecoach road between Fort Bragg and Eureka used during the late 19th century, remains. It is maintained during the summer months as a rough one lane dirt road. To reach Usal Beach, where these photos were taken, look for the 90.88 mile marker on Highway 1 and head toward the coast on the unmarked road, on the left if you are heading north. It's a one hour 6 mile drive to Usal Beach.
Usal beach was the site of a large redwood lumbering operation in the 1890's. Now a California State Park, primitive camping is available. During the winter, the road is often impassible and is slow going even when dry. However, the trip is worth it and it can be done as a day trip from Mendocino. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended but not usually required in good weather.
For information on this and many other Mendocino Coast areas, we recommend "The HIKER'S hip pocket GUIDE to the Mendocino Coast" and "The Mendocino Coast Glove Box Guide", both by Bob Lorentzen. They contain extensive information which will help you better enjoy the North Coast.
For example, he describes a 4 1/2 mile round trip hike north along the beach to a beautiful waterfall. This hike can only be done safely at low tide and the waterfall is best viewed early in the season.