By Mathew Brock

Pilot Sports Writer

Among the many trails and paths of Harris Beach State Park, South Beach Trail immediately greets visitors just as they turn into the park off of U.S. 101.

Beginning at the top of the cliff at the first viewpoint parking area along Sunset Point Trail, South Beach Trail provides a paved descent down to the southern half of Harris Beach.

The paved path to the beach is lined with dense vegetation and makes for a leisurely descent, though a more tiresome return trip awaits as visitors ascend the curving cliffside path.

The vegetation is home to a variety of local birds frequenting dense foliage along the beach and bathing in the pools formed by creeks tricking down into the ocean. Several vistas have been cut into the dense plantlife and halfway down sits a bench providing a place to rest, ideal for the steep return trip back to the parking area.

The southern half of Harris Beach is a wide, sandy beach that’s mostly clear of the stony patches and piles of driftwood found on the county’s more southern beaches. During lower tides, rock formations are revealed that create fields of tide pools and trap a variety of sea life for easy viewing for those willing to get their feet wet.

The rock formations headed north house a particularly large population of snails and the large, green rock formation marked with “No climbing” signs has accumulated a large mound of shells and fragments from different sea life at its base.

Near where the path lets out onto the beach sits the mouth of Eiler Creek, which pools on the beach and often flows down into the ocean after curving around nearby rock formations in a small stream. Depending on the time of year and level of rainfall, the water from the creek can pool along the treeline and shape the beach in a variety of ways. Further south sits Ransom Creek, which often flows directly into the ocean along the rocky cliffside and cuts off progression any further south along the beach.

While Harris Beach has much to offer, the South Beach Trail provides a more scenic take on the popular recreation area. While the northern side of the park provides more amenities such as restrooms and campsites, South Beach Trail makes for a more secluded hike down to the beach and is ideal for shorter visits to the park.

As with most local beachside parks, visitors to Harris Beach should take proper precautions near the water and be aware of both riptides and sneaker waves. Be sure to check local tide tables and those interested in swimming or similar activities should be mindful of current bacteria levels, especially after rainfall. Harris Beach is also home to a variety of flora and fauna, which visitors should be mindful to not disturb.