Enderts Beach

January 15, 2007 12:00 am

By Karen Wilkinson

Triplicate staff writer

Some of the most fruitful entertainment in Del Norte County doesn't cost a nickel — well, maybe just a little gas in the guzzler and a bit of wear and tear on the shoes.

Enderts Beach, just two miles south of Crescent City and 2.3 miles down Enderts Beach Road, is part of Redwood National and State Parks' 37 miles of shoreline. And it's one of two beaches in the county know for its wealth of tidepools and resident creatures.

The beach is also one of the area's best kept secrets.

"It's a very peaceful location," said Debbie Savage, Redwood National and State Parks north district supervisor. "It feels rather isolated when you're down there, and there are many days when you can be the only person down there."

After parking at the end of Enderts Beach Road and taking the half-mile hike down part of old Hwy. 101 to the sand, there are two options — to explore the northern beach or the southern side.

"Enderts Beach is a wonderful place to go at low tide, but I'd encourage people to go north rather than south," Savage said. "(The south side) is generally not a really safe place to go."

Tidepools are dispersed both ways, but if you're in an adventurous mood and the tide is low, the south side is a nature lover's treat.

Tips for exploring

And if that's the chosen destination, Savage recommends a few precautionary steps to keep oneself and fellow nature enthusiasts safe.

"People are not aware of the power of the ocean even on a calm, beautiful day," she advised.

Some tips for exploring:

•Wear sturdy shoes, such as sneakers – Avoid wearing flip flops or no shoes at all. And be prepared to get wet, Savage said, as there's a creek to cross to reach the tidepools near the cavernous region.

•Be aware of your footing – "I wouldn't walk on any wet rocks below the water line," Savage said. "Those rocks are covered with barnacles and muscles that can be very sharp, so if you fall you could cut yourself."

•Respect the sea life – "You need to walk very gently there, so you're not trampling the tidepool creatures," Savage said.

•Never turn your back on the ocean – "It could be a beautiful day (but) it doesn't matter," Savage said. "If you're not watching the ocean, a rogue wave could come in and you don't have much a chance of escaping back if a large wave sweeps you off shore."

•Keep kids and dogs above the high tide line – It's easy for them to get too close to the water and swept out to sea. Keep them in sight and up high.

What you'll find

Once you're prepared for a tromp through the sand, across the creek, over the rocks and through the tight cave, "you'll be surprised by the variety of organisms living down there," Savage said.

Common animal creatures include the black oystercatcher, giant green anemone, black chiton, opalescent nudibranch, hermit crabs, leather star, red sea urchin, purple shore crab, ochre sea star, sculpin (a small fish) and acorn barnacles.

Organisms living in and around the tidepools include marine algae, barnacles and mussels, which cov-er most rock surfaces.

As observing the animals' and organisms' environments is nearly impossible without stepping on them, Savage urges visitors to tread lightly.

Rocky shoreline

If you're not up for a climb over rocks and through small spots, the view of the Franciscan sandstone cliffs just above the beach is worth the short hike.

"Those are bits of the old shoreline that's left behind," Savage said.

Igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks make up these unstable sandstone cliffs, she said. And the seastacks that can be seen from Enderts Beach aren't fallen rocks, but leftover materials from erosion.

"As wave energy eroded the sandstone and mudstone, the stronger rocks — made of durable greenstone and chert — were left standing," Savage said.

And though plenty of gorgeous shells and rocks reside along the shore, it's illegal to collect any, as the area is a marine sanctuary.

"It's illegal to collect anything down there," Savage said, "except for photographs and memories."