Pros: Absolutely beautiful! Great beach to explore. Very peaceful.
Cons: May be foggy and cool.
My family and I just returned from camping at Patricks Point State Beach. Knowing that the California coast can be unpredictably foggy and rainy I spent sometime researching which month was best to visit. It seems that May and October have the best opportunity for sunshine and a break from the rain. So we planned for right after Mothers Day. We arrived to a beautiful sunny, 60ish day. Of the 5 days we were there only on one did we get a slight drizzle and some fog, which made for a perfect day to hike all the trails (about 10 miles round trip total). We originally planned to spend 4 days, but enjoyed it so much we stayed 1 day longer.
There are two main camping areas, one is called Agate the other is called Abalone. We were in the Agate camp sites. Ours was one of the larger sites right at the entrance to this group and had a nice flat area for our tent. This one was less private, but was near the trails and close to the ocean. Some of the sites are more treed than others, so a bit shadier, but some get quite a bit of sun here. The bathrooms and showers are getting older and since there was no camp host this early in the year they seemed a bit dirtier than other places we have been, but still decent and useable. Since you cannot pick up wood for your fire, you may want to bring some from home, though they do sell wood for $7 a bag when someone is available to sell it.
We did not stay in the Abalone sites, but walked through that campground. It is definitely among the trees and a bit darker, with moss and ferns growing up around the sites. These sites are also far from the trail down to agate beach, but beside the trails to the more ragged coast line of rocks. The trails on this side are much more like being in the redwood forests.
All the trails are pretty well marked and were not to difficult for us; including boys 7, 9, and 12. The trail down to Agate Beach is all down hill with steps at the beginning and end. We know that trail well; it was the boys favorite place. We lugged up many unique stones and pieces of driftwood. There is so much to pick though that you have to remind yourself to sit down and watch the waves. The ocean was beautiful here, with big thunderous waves that crash right on shore, soaking unsuspecting boys looking at that newly washed up and polished little stone. It seems that the beach goes on forever when you are walking it to the north. If after descending the trail you walk south on the beach, you very quickly come to black jagged rocks that look almost like charred petrified trees. In the crevices are thousands of tiny hermit crabs, and many anemones, mussels, and crabs (so watch where you step). Make sure you check the tide schedule by the bathrooms. The tide seemed to come in very quickly while we were out exploring. If you pick up shells, set them down on shore for a little while, some of those hermit crabs can hide very deep in a shell.
We also had a little bandit at our campsite the first night that came back the next to reveal himself, obviously a raccoon. He walked right into camp in plain view as we sat around the fire. I also enjoyed seeing my first fox as I waited quietly for my boys to finish their showers one evening. We didnt see any deer or bears though you are supplied with a bear box. It may be to discourage the raccoon. The storage box is quite large. We were able to fit two regular size ice chests and a few boxes.
Patricks Point was the main place I wanted to visit on our vacation. I was definitely not disappointed; it was well worth the 13 hour drive. Everything was truly spectacular. The views from the lookout points, the moss covered trees, Rhododendrons putting on an amazing show of color, and Agate beach calling for exploration. The only difficulty I had was in dragging the rest of the family away. I had hoped to spend more time visiting the Redwood Parks north of Patricks Point, but I really had to persuade my family to leave for just one afternoon. We got as far as Gold Bluffs beach to see the elk and explored Fern Canyon. The trail through Fern Canyon was beautiful. I am glad we got to see it. There is a stream that runs through the canyon that you must cross often so wear shoes that you dont mind getting wet. Or bring a walking stick to help you balance as you traverse the many fallen trees and stepping stones. I was able to keep relatively dry, but others we saw just carried their shoes and waded. On the way back we stopped at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. There is a 1 mile trail through this grove of gigantic mature redwoods. The boys enjoyed exploring some of the burned out trees along the trail and seeing how small we are compared to these giants. Pictures dont in any way express their heights or breadth.
Well that was enough trees for the boys, so as soon as we got back to Patricks Point we were off to Agate Beach again too hunt for the perfect walking stick, the most polished and interesting stones, and to add to the driftwood fort someone had started before us. If you are looking for a campground near the Redwood Parks this one is a good choice. We really hated to leave.