Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

A 500,000-Year Journey Through Time!

We went on a special journey through time at Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, California. Here, the Ecological Staircase is a living timeline, with five distinct terraces revealing a fascinating 500,000-year history. Each terrace, roughly 100,000 years younger than the one above, showcases a unique ecological stage.

Our hike began at the lowest terrace, a vibrant coastal plain. As we climbed, the landscape transformed into a beautiful grassland, followed by a majestic redwood forest. The true gem of Jug Handle lies in the rarest terrace, the Pygmy Forest. This otherworldly ecosystem succeeds on nutrient-poor, acidic soil, creating a mesmerizing “bonsai effect.” This terrace shows miniature versions of trees and shrubs, highlighting nature’s power to adapt to its surroundings.


Jug Handle was almost bulldozed down in 1972. However, the passionate community intervened and prevented the destruction of the terraces with the help of a rare snowstorm, almost as a sign of nature itself. This pivotal moment paved the way for Jug Handle, including its irreplaceable Pygmy Forest, to become a state park in 1976, forever protecting this remarkable 500,000-year record of ecological succession for generations to come.
Fast-forward almost 50 years, and we, the future generation, are grateful to wander through and admire this remarkable 500,000-year-old ecological treasure.


Saturday, November 11, 2023


5.83 miles

Moving Time

2:14:34 hours


73 °F, light breeze, sun