Jug Handle State Natural Reserve is located on the Mendocino coast. The park features a 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase which explores five wave-cut terraces formed by glacier, sea and tectonic activity that built the coast range.
Each of the terraces was uplifted from sea level about 100,000 years before the one below it. Plants on each terrace represent a more advanced stage in succession, indicating what the previous, next lower terrace may look like in 100,000 years. The lowest terrace consists of prairie; the second is covered with pines; the third supports a unique pigmy forest with knee-high trees possibly several decades old.