Van Damme State Park

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Little River beach.

Van Damme State Park consists of about 1,831 acres (7.41 km2) of land in Mendocino County, California, near the town of Little River on State Route 1. It was named for Charles Van Damme (1881–1934), who was born in the area and purchased the land that is now the park with profits from a San Francisco ferry business. On his death, the property became part of the California state park system.


The greater part of the park lies on the inland side of State Route 1, and includes ten miles of hiking trails along the Little River, and campsites rated by The Guardian as one of the ten best on the west coast,[1]

On the ocean side of the highway, a free parking lot provides access to Little River beach at the mouth of the Little River, also part of the park. The waters offshore from the beach form the Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area.[2] The beach also serves as the launch site for kayak tours of the sea caves in the area.[3]

Another part of the park, Spring Ranch, consists of 160 acres (0.65 km2) of blufftop meadows on the ocean side of Route 1 north of Little River, and a restored set of barns dating from 1860. It was purchased by the state in 1996.[4]

Inland, a boardwalked nature trail leads through a Pygmy Forest, where poor soil has created a marshy ecosystem of stunted cypress and pine trees and rhododendrons. The dwarf forest, a vulnerable habitat, is a National Natural Landmark.[5]


  1. ^ Stienstra, Tom (May 24, 2013), "Top 10 US west coast campsites", The Guardian .
  2. ^ Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), California Department of Parks and Recreation], retrieved 2015-07-05.
  3. ^ Schumann, Roger (2013), Sea Kayaking Central and Northern California: The Best Days Trips and Tours from the Lost Coast to Pismo Beach (2nd ed.), Rowman & Littlefield, p. 52, ISBN 9780762793983 .
  4. ^ Coate, Hilarie (March 6, 2014), "Restoration of Van Damme State Park's Spring Ranch barns moves forward", Mendocino Beacon .
  5. ^ Pygmy Forest, National Natural Landmarks Program, National Park Service, retrieved 2015-07-05.

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Coordinates: 39°16′30″N 123°46′00″W / 39.27500°N 123.76667°W / 39.27500; -123.76667