At Patrick’s Point State Park there are great trails, great views and Agate Beach, a wonderfully pebbly beach made for agate hunting. This beach is covered with wave-polished semi-precious stones. While not as valuable as precious stones, agates can still be used to make jewelry as well as projectile points, carvings, and various other items. If the long walk down to Agate Beach from the Patrick’s Point bluffs and back up again seems too much like work, there’s an easier alternate route: you can go to Big Lagoon and access the lower end of Agate Beach by walking there along the water’s edge from the Big Lagoon parking lot.
If new to agate hunting, the first characteristic to look for is translucence. The quartz nature of agate allows light to penetrate a short distance into the surface, producing a soft glow. Along with shades of red, brown and orange, the translucent optical quality gives the agate its distinctive appearance. What most people particularly look for in agates are their patterns, such as the parallel or concentric lines called banding. Fortunately most beach agates have been wave-tumbled enough to expose their patterns.
While agate hunting draws many beachcombers to the North Coast, chasing surf and skipping rocks seem to be irresistible pleasures for kids playing at this beach. Always be cautious when near the surf, for those beautiful waves can be dangerous, with sudden wave surges or “sneaker waves” that have been known to pull people out to sea. “Never turn your back to the ocean” is good advice for agate hunters.
For best results in the hunt, look for agates where the waves have washed away much of the fine sand, exposing mostly pebbles. In a few hours, you can usually find a handful of beautiful agates in many varieties. For best results, time your activity to low tide.
Where: At Patrick’s Point State Park, 6 miles north of Trinidad off Hwy 101 (google maps)