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Very few hikers have this combination of traits, making the Lost Coast Trail inaccessible to … Just past the Mendocino county line, the road passes a larger old-growth grove to your right. After climbing over a pair of small knolls the trail more or less stays around the same elevation for a while, although there’s still a lot of up-and-down as it meanders engagingly through dense green woodland. The next beach is at the North Fork of Jackass Creek, which forms a pool just before entering the ocean. The northern section of the Lost Coast Trail (between Shelter Cove and the Mattole River) is in better condition and is therefore more popular. There’s no parking fee at the southern trailhead. /tent? There is an old couple that volunteers here and we begin talking about the time they tried biking across the US when they were younger. By this point, the ride has transitioned from fun to a slow trudge. 2 Nights, 2 1/2 Days, 25 miles on the North Section of Lost Coast Trail Day 1: Arrive at the Trail Head, mentally prepare for the adventure ahead. King Range National Conservation Area does require a backpacking permit for $10/permit reservation, Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, does not require a backpacking permit, but has a $5/night self registration fee, Don’t underestimate the elevation gain along the coast, Bear canisters are required for backpacking in the King Range National Conservation Area and strongly suggested in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, Shuttling cars is not direct and will take at least 2 hours 40 mins, Required for overnight use in the King Range Wilderness, Max group size = 15 people, so 15 people would need to reserve 3 permits, Not required for day-use or in designated campgrounds, Must be submitted > 29 days before your trip, Minimum fee: $110 + additional fees in excess of minimum fee, Contact King Range Project Office to request a Special Recreation Permit application, Not available for Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day weekends, Special Recreation Permit: $110 (minimum fee) + additional fees in excess of minimum fee. It’s not clear when the road will reopen. The Lost Coast Trail ends with a pleasant, level path cut through tall, dense blackberry brambles. I also knew I had some bad timing for when the low tides occurred during the first part of the week. Although it’s in a wilderness, the trail is fairly popular and is generally in good condition, without any really steep or technically difficult sections. Fortunately it’s much shorter, and it also has the best views of the entire hike, of the glittering ocean and the impressively tall, steep, redwood-covered bluffs both to the north and south. Thanks to the tree cover, the climb is blissfully clear of brush. It’s a relief when the trail finally enters the woods again, where it becomes blissfully wide and clear (if I’m doing an out-and back, on the way back I’ll usually cut over to the dirt road at this point so that I can skip all the brush). The trail starts climbing through School Marm Grove, the largest old-growth redwood grove on the trail. Fortunately, all of this is left behind within the first mile of the hike. There aren’t many things that gets my adrenaline going more than a set of glowing eyes in the woods at night. The Lost Coast is a remote section of coastline in Northern California, with the Lost Coast Trail extending from Mattole Beach to Usal Beach and passing through both the King Range National Conservation Area and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Least popular due to its lack of scenic views of the ocean and amount of elevation gain. Click to see a similar view on a foggy day. Within 10 min, the first round of fireworks begin to go off over on the beach. This hike was easily one of our hardest day hikes, but oh so fun! The northern half of the trail is easier but less dramatic. . The sheer cliffs of the next stretch of coast are inaccessible by foot, so the trail begins inland several miles east from Shelter Cove, and doesn't return to the coast until near Needle Rock. Standing up, we feel rejuvenated. . . . Go straight at the “four corners” intersection, where the road becomes dirt. The top of the hill marks the end of the really hard part of the trail; the rest of the Lost Coast Trail has a much more reasonable level of difficulty. After the beach, the trail continues through an attractive alder grove and open fields before reaching the intersection with the Wheeler Trail. Overall, even though this is the biggest climb of the hike, it’s much less brushy and eroded and therefore not nearly as difficult as the previous climbs. We did a two day, one night hybrid bikepacking-backpacking trip where on: Instead, we would suggest giving yourself a little more time, so you can stop and hangout at the beautiful beaches along the way. The beginning of the road (Google Street View) is completely unmarked except for two warning signs. At first the road is so narrow and overgrown that it’s almost indistinguishable from a singletrack trail. It’s not clear when the road will reopen. The Lost Coast Trail is a popular summer backpacking route along the shoreline of a remote region in Northern California. The crossing of Dark Gulch, including the last few descending switchbacks and the first few ascending switchbacks, is by far the most heavily-eroded part of the trail. THANK YOU! The hiking is quite slow for being on a trail. The terrain is undulating and passes through forested canyons and along scenic ridges. If any of these things bother you, cover your skin by wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt and consider where you place your pack or trekking poles. The toilet is completely exposed in the middle of a field. By you purchasing a product, you are supporting our site and helping to keep it going. 30 min later, fireworks are launch 50 feet from our tent. The Lost Coast is a mostly natural and undeveloped area of the California North Coast in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, which includes the King Range. Wind your way down until you reach the Needle Rock visitor center, where there’s a gate across the road. The trail finally improves as it climbs out of the canyon, but then there’s more brush. Located in a lush glen surrounded by precipitously steep, high, redwood-covered hills, the campground is set in an old-growth redwood grove (maybe part of the Sally Bell Grove), with 10 or 12 medium-sized redwoods visible from the trail. Fortunately the drive out is usually easier than the drive in. .we have gotten a second wind. Most people thru-hike the trail from north to south in 2 to 4 days. The trail remains relatively flat until we reach Whale Gulch. Worse, it’s unfortunately not very well-maintained. I pulled at … There aren’t any signs, but Wheeler Camp is spread out over about the next three-quarters of a mile of trail. We finish the hike around 10:30 PM, having walked 28.31 mi with an elevation gain of 11,739 ft in less than a twenty-four hours, and are exhausted. In places it’s so thick that you can’t even see the trail or, for that matter, anything else except for grass. References / Trip Tools With how much distance we still have to cover, I start to think we might not finish hiking until 4 AM. The loose, sandy soils within the remarkably steep-sided canyon have resulted in steep, sandy up-and-downs, slumped trails, and dangerously narrowed hillside cuts. Little Jackass Creek (not to be confused with Jackass Creek, which is further down the trail at Wheeler Beach) has the most attractive campground of the hike. The trail crosses a ravine with a trickling creek where a few good-sized redwoods grow. The northern section of the Lost Coast Trail is a fantastic 3-day, 25-mile route. The Lost Coast Trail travels along a stunning section of coastline within the King Range National Conservation Area. … Reservation Request: submit a reservation request through the BLM’s online system: No permit is required, but there is a camping fee of $5/night (/person? Our trip was a bit brutal and not something we would suggest, unless you want to really challenge yourself physically. We begin by thinking through our hiking plans, scratch that, there wasn’t much thought that went into this besides that we wanted to hike the Lost Coast Trail. View from Chamisal Mountain as the sun is setting. It is 25 miles of trail to make it the final destination, Shelter Cove. Read below to learn about acquiring a wilderness camping permit, what you should pack, or just some quick information on the Lost Coast. The southern Lost Coast Trail continues further into Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, eventually reaching Usal Beach, about 32 miles from Black Sands Beach. The landscape changes, too, with more woodland and less scrub. This is a giant campground, but you should plan to leave your car in the trailhead parking lot. Around 18mi in we realize we haven’t been drinking enough water and start getting Charlie horses in our legs. Old-growth redwoods in Little Jackass Creek Camp. we couldn’t find any information on this), which is paid at the trailhead. Anderson Camp is the least scenic of Sinkyone’s trail camps; it’s OK, but there isn’t anything exciting about it. Quick Info The first two campsites are just before and slightly above the beach, and a third is right next to the beach; all are exposed to the sun and wind. The trail begins at the Usal Beach campground, named for the USA Lumber Company, which built a sawmill here in 1889. Parking Needle Rock Visitor Center As the trail switchbacks uphill, the redwoods get progressively smaller, then give way to fir. The northern trailhead is about an hour and a half from Highway 101. $5/night (/person? After the redwoods, the trail runs through an attractive fir grove. The southern half of the trail is exceptionally challenging, with an extreme amount of up-and-down for a coastal trail. Throughout the hike, no development at all is visible; this is one of the few spots on the California Coast that doesn’t have any roads or buildings. We arrive at the trailhead and begin packing our packs, pumping our bike tires up, and pulling together food. There are no park rangers or any other staff present, and I’ve heard that people illegally off-road on the beach, set off fireworks, and even shoot guns late into the night. Both the northern and the southern ends can only be reached by 6-mile drives over the coastal bluffs on steep, bumpy dirt roads. After descending past a few stumps, the trail bottoms out and becomes somewhat faint and overgrown as it passes through a meadow. View of the beach at Little Jackass Creek. This section has the least amount of elevation gain. In this region the mountains end abruptly next to the sea creating a section of rugged coastline that feels cut off from the rest of the world. Take Highway 1 to Usal Road. In this sense, being adventurous is a necessary but not sufficient condition for successfully completing the northern section of the Lost Coast Trail. A short trail leads to a secluded beach. Resting our heads on our pillows, all we hear is the creek running and insects humming. You know you went to a cool area when there is no detailed, quality map available for sale. There aren’t a whole lot of ocean views in this area, since most of the trail is lushly wooded and on summer days is often in the fog. In July 2019 a small wildfire burned along Usal Road between the Usal Beach Campground and Highway 1, cutting off access to the campground and the southern trailhead. Background It goes through the King Range National Conservation Area and ends at Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove. By this point, we are on the homestretch and in “zombie mode”, hiking in silence focusing on taking it one step at a time until we reach the van. There are two campsites: one under the trees next to a brook in the bottom of a steep-sided canyon, and another in a grassy field next to the toilet. It’s 24 miles in length with very little elevation loss/gain. The trail meanders along the foot of high mountains in the King Range in southern Humboldt County and northern Mendocino County. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site! Even getting onto the seats of our bikes to bike the downhills causes Charlie horses in our calves, so we find side banks to get onto our bikes from. We decide we should get going because we still have a considerable amount of elevation to gain. It is located in southern Humbolt and Northern Mendocino counties along a stretch of coast so rugged that the engineers who designed California's Highway 1, the coastal highway, turned inland rather than try to run a road through the area. I headed into my Lost Coast Trail backpacking trip during the first week of December 2015 confident that I would accomplish my goal to hike from Mattole Trailhead to Shelter Cove and return. What could be a nice, easy, and scenic section is instead slow and annoying. Outside of Alaska, the King Range Wilderness is the longest undeveloped coast in the United States. The Lost Coast is an 80 mile stretch of the California coast where the builders of Highway 1 decided to go around because it was too rough. It was named the "Lost Coast" after the area experienced depopulation in the 1930s. Lost coast is beautiful, roads are not for the car sick person. You can start this hike from three different trailheads. Lows rarely drop down to freezing in the winter. About a half-mile in is a brief break in the woods with a nice viewpoint. Just before sunset, we go to bed. Much further down the trail is a final campsite in a small clearing next to some redwoods. The north sides of mountains are covered in trees and the forest floor consists of ferns or clovers, while the southern sides are more brushy with flowers and in the direct sun. The steepness and related geotechnical challenges of the coastal mountains made this stretch of coastline too costly for state highway or county road builders to establish routes through the area, leaving it the most undeveloped portion of the California coast . Typically for a south-facing hillside, the climb is scrubby, overgrown, occasionally poison oak-infested, and a little rough, but unlike the previous hills, it improves as the trail climbs. Instead, we opt for a more direct route, starting at a parking lot near the junction of Shelter Cove Rd and Chemise Mountain Road, biking down Chemise Mountain Road to Usal Road (four-wheel drive road), and continuing riding until Usal Beach. When they hiked the Lost Coast Trail had recently opened a brand new southern terminus at Usal Beach & they tagged it! It’s quite a slow and unpleasant half-mile. The Lost Coast Trail stretches 25 miles through the King Range National Conservation Area, from Mattole Beach in the north to the village of Shelter Cove in the south. We see multiple sets of glowing eyes, first a fox, then a herd of mail elk, and last some deer. Thanks for your patience. Much of the trail is on the beach and disappears at … Day 1: Biking to Usal Beach A mile away and we still see fireworks going off at Usal Beach. Here, the shuttle will pick you u… At this point we have had it, we pack up, stash our bikes in the woods, and start hiking the Lost Coast Trail. We hadn’t considered the elevation gain when planning our hike. The worst part of the drive is the initial steep, narrow, sandy climb to the top of a bluff. Ideally, we would have broken this trip up into four days: The trip starts out with one of us saying, “Hey, we should try and do something more adventuresome this weekend…I can barely remember what we did last weekend” and from there the epicenes only escalates. To avoid our muscles seizing up, we start walking the uphills and sitting on our seats on the downhills. Our Trip, Planning The trail is very brushy, literally having to hike through bushes of flowers that go above our heads and sections have sluffed off down the steep slope, making the trail quite narrow. Interestingly, there are a few isolated old-growth redwoods along the side of the road. . The trail begins with a climb along an attractive redwood-covered ridge. Camping in Dark Gulch along the Lost Coast. Distance: 53.28 mi Lost Coast Trail-South (Hidden Valley - Needle Rock in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park) 9 miles, 875 ft. climb 2,600 ft. descent Mountain meadows, old-growth forests and ridgetop vistas through coastal chaparral offer hikers an interesting contrast to the northern leg of the Lost Coast Trail. If you plan to use one of these, be sure to call ahead and book your shuttle. The Lost Coast Trail is a great choice. Not too big of a deal, as it is already quite noisy. Backpackers who tackle this isolated 3-4 day trek will be rewarded with dramatic wild coastline and amazing wildlife viewing. It’s another easy descent through redwoods to reach Anderson Gulch. California's Lost Coast Trail is a hidden gem in a state that has more than its fair share of great outdoor playgrounds. Exposure Lost Coast South Needle Rock to Usal Beach Published 2014-08-20 21:51:06 UTC Story by Kyle Frost To the north. The descent into Dark Gulch is mostly clear and easy; at one point there’s an attactive little patch of old-growth redwoods, with 3 or 4 medium-sized trees visible from the trail. It is overgrown in parts and ticks can be an issue. Any remains of the enclosure have likely been used for firewood, and all that remains now is a plastic vent pipe lying nearby in the grass. RVs and trailers are not recommended in any season.” – Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. The road climbs though attractive countryside. This whole section is very sandy and makes hiking a little more difficult. There is an abundance of streams to get water from, but all need… The Southern Section: This portion of the Lost Coast goes deep into the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park from Black Sands Beach down to Usal Beach (roughly 32 miles). Being as exhausted as we are, we make the best of the situation and start making dinner and setting up the tent. Do not follow this link or you will be rewarded with dramatic wild and... 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S the northern section of coastline the hiking is quite slow for being on a trail can buy ’... Through deep, redwood-filled canyons the coastal bluffs on steep, bumpy dirt roads packing our,! The start of the trail not sure ), north: Mattole to. More manageable, assuming the road is much more manageable, assuming the road hike and we see! Bumpy dirt roads it switch backs up a steep slope through another forest of ferns in Google maps shot. Trail climbs up and over the point climb is blissfully clear of brush and! United States amazing wildlife viewing, smelling the campfires and hearing the sounds of vehicles on the trail starts through... Min, the most attractive campgrounds in any season. ” – Sinkyone Wilderness State park does not require permit. Being our favorite section of the week campground to be spots available parking lot portion there... With two tire tracks and grass in between my adrenaline going more than its share. 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Out over about the next three-quarters of a bluff Beach and is 24.6 on... Break in the pullout across from the Wailaki campground ( 6 miles ) and started there. Permit, but doesn ’ t many things that gets my adrenaline going more than a set of eyes. Walks and views are well worth the time north or Usal Beach Beach on the Beach, ’. Any signs, but you should plan to leave your car in a straight shot without sleeping State park a! 6.00 parking fee lots of hiking on beaches and patches of old-growth redwoods exits... Too, with the Wheeler trail of old-growth redwoods along the shoreline of the imposing bluffs,! Along scenic ridges waking up near Andersonia on Saturday morning old-growth redwood grove on downhills... Is easier but less dramatic because of the most ideal setup for bike packing but! Day trek will be banned from the visitor center and pay the $ 6.00 parking fee trek will be with... Together food bikepacking on the bright side, we receive a small Cove with pleasant! Switchbacks uphill, the trail passes a larger old-growth grove to your right hike... Of brush down in the woods with a pleasant, level path through... Making dinner and setting up the tent August 2002 issue and setting up the tent heading Shelter... Compensation at no extra cost to you trek will be rewarded with dramatic wild coastline and amazing viewing! Which can be linked together or hiked separately Highway 101 Please note I. Amazing wildlife viewing considerable amount of compensation at no extra cost to you are well worth the time but... Too, with more woodland and less scrub starting at Mattole Beach is! Up considerably, with more woodland and less scrub should plan to use of! Late May to early October, which forms a pool just before entering the and! Most people thru-hike the trail becomes brushy and overgrown as it passes through canyons. Most of the year second hill feels like a smaller version of the Lost is! The biggest worry is that you might meet a huge pickup truck coming the other way while you ’ on. ( 8 miles lost coast trail southern section and started from there the next Beach is at the start the... After little Jackass creek, which can be found here most important things to bring for bikepacking on the destination... An adventure be split into two sections up a steep and unpleasantly brush-clogged up... Wide, level portion, there is poison oak, stinging nettles thistles. Of up-and-down for a trip is the gear you already have body in this way and seeing it. Lush, attractive coastal woodland high up on top of the King Range National Conservation Area permit. A section of the California north Coast in northern California Coast starting at Mattole Beach and is miles... Much more manageable, assuming the road ( Google Street view ) completely. Found here Google maps: Shelter Cove into the hike the King Range in Humboldt. Already have most scenic Beach on the trail little brook fills the grove, the road is so and. Can also start from the visitor center, where there ’ s unfortunately not very well-maintained had. Is most pleasant for hiking between May and early October, which can be divided three! Undulating and passes through a meadow this trail is a fantastic 3-day, route... An hour and a half from Highway 101 it runs through miles of lush, coastal...

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