The Coastal Trail refers to the extension of the Haul Road that lies within MacKerricher State Park just to the north. The path here is maintained by the City of Fort Bragg.
The Coastal Trail is a relatively new addition to the area, having just been completed in 2015. The path is freshly paved and mostly flat, following the shoreline on the bluffs that overlook the ocean. The land along the shore previously had numerous uses, including a lumber mill. The more well known use of a few coves here was the city garbage dump.
Before circa 1970, it was common practice for residents to back up their cars to the edge of the bluffs overlooking coves along the coast and just dump whatever it was they no longer needed. Strong ocean tides swept away some of the refuse while the remainder sat along the shore for decades.
Over time public opinion changed and the area was cleaned up with things like old refrigerators and even cars hauled out and disposed of elsewhere. There was one piece of garbage that was more difficult to completely remove, but also one that eventually became treasured.
Sea glass refers to the small, rounded pieces of broken glass that have been worked on by the oceans waves for years. After glass bottles broke in the garbage piles the wave action rolled the jagged pieces into ever smaller and smoother bits. It's the countless remnants of this trash that continue to "litter" the beaches along the Costal Trail today.
Depending on who's interpretation of the law you believe, it may be illegal to remove any sea glass from the beaches here. Regardless of the true legality of the practice it's clear the continued enjoyment of the glittering display of sea glass here would be helped by the fact that most visitors refrain from removing anything from the beach.