Patrick’s Point State Park, located in Trinidad, California (thirty miles north of Eureka), is a fairly well-known location for locals and tourists alike to camp, hike, and hunt for agates, jasper, and driftwood.
If you are really lucky, you might find moonstone, jade, quartz, gold, or gems.
In this article, we’ll talk about three details you need to know if you are planning on visiting Patrick’s Point State Park to hunt for beautiful stones and other treasures.
Rockhounding at Patrick’s Point State Park
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Tip #1: Getting to Agate Beach is more work than you think.
While you can find agates and other unique shells and other specimens along the entirety of the State Park, the jewel for rockhounders is an aptly named area called Agate Beach.
At Agate beach, you will find a beautiful coastline made up of coarse sand with tons of tiny pebbles at the water’s edge.
Among those pebbles you can hunt the day away for California beach agates of all sizes (though mostly small) and jasper.
But that being said, one thing people don’t talk much about is the walk between the car and the beach.
You’ll get to the trailhead by turning into Patrick’s Point off 101 at the sign, and then by following the signs to Agate Beach Campground.
The trail itself is well maintained, but it is more of a “hiking” type trail. The walk itself is quite beautiful and green, surrounded by lush bushes and some trees.
The walk itself isn’t necessarily arduous.
The trail is less than a mile long, but full of switchbacks to accommodate the amount of down and up needed to get between the parking area and the beach.
It starts with a staircase.
For folks who are not in good shape or struggle with a physical disability, the trail would be considered “long” and perhaps challenging to navigate.
But for those out there who are unstable on their feet, are not in very decent walking shape, or just want to “zip” down to the sand real quick to check out the scene, the walk might be more than they bargained for.
Even if you plan on going barefoot on the beach, we recommend that you wear sturdy shoes for the trip from the car to the beach (and back).
And don’t forget that there is a day use fee to park.
Tip #2: There are limits to what you can collect and take home at Patrick’s Point State Park.
Experienced rockhounds know that local, state, and federal laws often apply to the collection of rocks and other natural materials on land owned or managed by the government.
While most blogs and websites talk about the natural beauty of the site, many fail to discuss the limitations on rockhounding.
There are limits to what you can pick up and take home from Agate Beach at Patrick’s Point, enacted primarily to protect the beauty and splendor of the state’s natural areas.
In California, there are many different agencies that manage the land. It is very important that you know where you are, and which agency’s rules are applicable.
Just because you watched a youtube video about someone telling you that the BLM manages California doesn’t make it truth.
Patrick’s Point (and Agate Beach) is part of the California State Park system. As such, the California Code of Regulations should apply:
- In many developed recreation areas and sites, rockhounding actually not permitted. You’ll want to verify at these types of sites whether it is okay to collect rocks from the sites to take home.
- For areas where rockhounding is permitted, you are limited to 15 pounds of mineralogical materials.
- Tools may not be used (with the exception of gold pans.)
- Rockhounding is not allowed on state recreations areas where swimming or boat launching has been designated.
- Rockhounding on beaches is limited to the areas within the wave action zone.
- No vertebrae fossils or archaeological materials (think arrowheads, stone tools) can be removed. In fact, it is better to not even touch them, especially in the case of anything that appears to be a burial ground.
To get the most up to date regulations, check the California Code of Regulations.
That being said, we highly recommend that you carry some kind of bag with you if you are serious about agate hunting.
This way you’ll be able to pick and choose freely among the rocks without having to worry about filling your pockets with wet and sandy stones.
Tip #3: Start with the stream to have the best chance of finding agates easily.
In general, most of the agates you will find are at the edges, where the sea water meets the sand, and continually moves the sand, scrapes it, and reforms it.
This constantly movement pushes and exposes agates for us to find.
However, campers familiar with the area start with the stream, which flows from around the bottom of the stairs down to the water. The mouth of this little stream is a gravel bed, and it is often full of agates.
The hard part about the stream is that it is the first place most people look, if they are coming from the campgrounds or directly from their cars.
To have the best chance of finding the primo rocks of the day, get to the beach before the others do in the morning.
Agate beach can be a great place to bring your family (young and old) to explore. Just remember, the Pacific Ocean is cold, and can be unpredictable.
Keep your children close to you when you are looking for rocks near the water’s edge, and watch the ebbs and flows of the water carefully.
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Looking for other cools places to hunt for unique, special, and potentially valuable specimens? Let us help you plan your next rockhounding trip.