Scattered throughout the Golden State are quite a few varieties of agate, many of them with stunning beauty. In the Northern portion of the state, there are quite a few places you can check out to collect them ranting from beaches to streams in the mountains.
So let’s take a look at where to find agates in Northern California, and what types you might find along the way!
Where to Find Agates in Northern California
1. Goose Lake, Modoc County
Goose Lake straddles the Northern border of California, peeking just a bit over into Oregon. Like a lot of Modoc County, it’s a great space for rockhounds to take a look and it’s been found to hold a lot of astonishing agate, jasper, and jasp-agate.
The material from this area doesn’t seem to have a single distinctive pattern. Instead, there’s a wide variety of different patterns that pop up. This is a common thread across much of California, where there are only a handful of distinctive types throughout the state but a shocking variety whenever they’re dug up.
If you’re in the area, most of the material seems to be found near the shores of the lake itself. It’s a good place to start, and the various types of agate will be easily recognizable by their waxy surface.
2. Crescent City Beaches
The beaches near Crescent City consistently turn up agates. While this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in California, you’ll find agates along most beaches going as far south as Santa Barabara, this area is unique in that there’s more than one beach to access and look at within the same general area.
This area produces a wide variety of different agate and jasper types. Some of these are fairly common in California, such as the red and yellow jasp-agate found all over the state. Others are a bit more unique. In particular, the beaches here seem to have some sort of yellow chalcedony or agate that’s rarely seen in other places.
All you need to do is pick one of the beaches in the area and start walking, taking a careful look at the pebbles. It’s generally easiest along the water’s edge, where the colors of the stones you’re looking for can easily be seen. I’ve generally found avoiding the peak of the day works best, with the sun at a slant it’s easier to identify whether or not a stone is worth stopping to take a look at.
3. “Agate Beach” in Patrick’s Point State Park
Agate Beach is aptly named, although it may not be quite as full of agate as it once was. There’s one big thing to be aware of, however, the water here can be deceptively dangerous. There’s a very steep drop-off and strong tides here, it’s not a great place to take a swim after your hunt for agates. In fact, even the local tourist agency advises against it.
One notable thing about California beach agates is that they look a bit different than those you find in rivers and streams. While these fresh bodies of water often leave a rounded nodule with a fairly smooth surface, the fine grains of sand from the beach tend to leave agates with a frosted exterior on the beaches. It makes it a bit harder to recognize when they’re dry.
Just keep yourself safe at the water’s edge and don’t turn your back on the ocean. From there it’s just a matter of looking through the pebbles on the beach and finding those that are worth keeping. The agates here tend to be yellow-orange in color, but there are always some oddballs and brighter colors around if you’re lucky.
4. Jenny Creek, Siskiyou County
Jenny Creek is nestled in Siskiyou County in NorCal, and it’s one of those areas that have a distinctive type to look for. While much of the creek itself is in Oregon, you can access the creek in California where it feeds into Iron Gate Reservoir, there’s a parking lot to the north of the reservoir. It’s rather remote, but that can make it all the more deserving.
The material most people are looking for here is a distinctive type of dendritic agate. These often have plumes of golden sagenite within them as well. While all dendritic agate is stunning, those with golden plumes tend towards the spectacular. Especially when cut and polished.
When you’re looking for agates here, keep an eye out for the colors white and gold. These are the best indicator until you’ve got the stone in hand for closer inspection. Many of the nodules will also be dual-colored, but few are opaque. It’s an interesting area, and an agate hunt can make it all the more exciting!
5. Deep Creek, Modoc County
Don’t get confused on this one. The rather dry name actually covers a bunch of creeks in California, including one all the way down in San Bernadino County. The area that you’re looking for is going to be called Deep Creek but it’s just Southwest of Cedarville in Modoc County. Finding access can be a bit of a pain, depending on your vehicle, expect bumpy dirt roads and faded trails.
The area hosts a variety of interesting agates and even some opalized wood. There’s also an old mercury mine out there, and while I’ve heard many people say they’ve gone through the tailings it’s still technically owned. The tailings are exposed in the area and chances are you’ll stumble across them if you’re searching.
If you choose to stick to the creeks and the immediate surrounding area, however, you’ll be richly rewarded. This area is fairly remote and not many people find themselves looking for agate out there, making it a veritable treasure trove for those who love to unturn stones no one has ever seen before.
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