This route works out to being 25.28mi, much more manageable, assuming the road is in good shape. There is poison oak, stinging nettles, thistles, and tall bushes growing into parts of the trail. /tent? 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. After the beach, the trail continues through an attractive alder grove and open fields before reaching the intersection with the Wheeler Trail. In this sense, being adventurous is a necessary but not sufficient condition for successfully completing the northern section of the Lost Coast Trail. Thanks for your patience. The hiking is quite slow for being on a trail. 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. /tent? After the North Fork of Jackass Creek there are some rolling hills and I’m really starting to feel fatigued from the elevation gain that we just did when hiking out of each gulch. Our trip was a bit brutal and not something we would suggest, unless you want to really challenge yourself physically. Trail Overview: The Lost Coast Trail follows the shore from Mattole River (north end) to Black Sands Beach in Shelter Cove (*south end). The overgrowth finally clears up as the trail begins to descend through a pleasant redwood forest; this section, like most of the redwood-covered parts of the trail, is exceptionally smooth, clear, and easy. In order to overnight camp/backpack in the King Range National Conservation Area a permit is required. ViewRanger is an app that provides downloadable trail guides, outdoor maps, and powerful GPS navigation features. We decide to do a backpacking trip along the middle and southern parts of the Lost Coast in Northern California. It’s the only Sinkyone campground to be so spread out. Lots of hiking on beaches and timing of tidal constrictions is important. It’s not clear when the road will reopen. we couldn’t find any information on this), which is paid at the trailhead. Despite its remoteness, the large campground is very popular and can be a bit of a zoo on summer weekends, with cars constantly driving by on the dusty roads and radios blaring. There aren’t any signs, but Wheeler Camp is spread out over about the next three-quarters of a mile of trail. Parking Shelter Cove Normally, we try taking as few breaks as possible and making them as short as possible because these are what really decrease the distance you hike in a day. As the trail switchbacks uphill, the redwoods get progressively smaller, then give way to fir. It is overgrown in parts and ticks can be an issue. The northern half of the trail is easier but less dramatic. Property Boundary Regulations . There is an abundance of streams to get water from, but all need… This whole section is very sandy and makes hiking a little more difficult. 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. . Here, the shuttle will pick you u… During the summer dry season, I’ve never had any problem driving them in a Honda Civic, and I’ve even seen Mini Coopers and a Volkswagon campervan do it with no problem. The old woman brings us out two cold glasses of ice tea. A mile away and we still see fireworks going off at Usal Beach. In places it’s so thick that you can’t even see the trail or, for that matter, anything else except for grass. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site! The trail begins with a climb along an attractive redwood-covered ridge. Most popular sections. About | Contact | Contribute | Disclosure & Privacy Policy. 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). At this point we have had it, we pack up, stash our bikes in the woods, and start hiking the Lost Coast Trail. There’s no parking fee at the southern trailhead. This is Chase Grove. Five minutes into the hike and we are already happier! . The trail can effectively be split into two sections. Length (distance): 24.6 MilesLength (time): 3-4 daysWhen to go: Late May to Early OctoberBear Canisters are requiredExpect to average 1.5 mph hikingMust hike specific sections (outlined in map) during lower tide time of day.Must bring some sort of filtration for fresh water. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. The southern Lost Coast Trail continues further into Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, eventually reaching Usal Beach, about 32 miles from Black Sands Beach. Our first bike packing trip! The northern section of the Lost Coast Trail (between Shelter Cove and the Mattole River) is in better condition and is therefore more popular. Not too big of a deal, as it is already quite noisy. We wake up slightly sore from the day before, wishing we had gotten ten hours of sleep instead of seven, and continue hiking on the trail as it weaves in and out of gulches, headed downhill on the way in and uphill on the way out. 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. The worst part of the drive is the initial steep, narrow, sandy climb to the top of a bluff. Most people thru-hike the trail from north to south in 2 to 4 days. Shuttle Services, Hiking Suggestions To avoid our muscles seizing up, we start walking the uphills and sitting on our seats on the downhills. King Range National Conservation Area Map, 768 Shelter Cove Rd, Whitethorn, CA 95589, Tools for Driving a Van in Poor Road Conditions, Backpacking the Washington Coast: Olympic National Park. It’s one of the highlights of the hike. 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. I pulled at … I knew it was going to rain a couple of days, but the forecast called for 10 mph winds. This is a one way hike, so you need to shuttle a car to the end and then drive to the beginning. If you’re just hiking the southern section of the Lost Coast and skipping Shelter Cove to Needle Rock, you will want to park here. Reaching the ridgetop, the trail leaves the woods and becomes a little faint and overgrown, but with some nice ocean views. 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. . 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 southern half of the Lost Coast may push you physically with the amount of elevation gain it has, but its scenic views, from high and low, will make it all worth it. This is a giant campground, but you should plan to leave your car in the trailhead parking lot. Today no sign of this activity remains and the area feels remarkably wild and remote. It was named the "Lost Coast" after the area experienced depopulation in the 1930s. downloadable trail guides, outdoor maps, and powerful GPS navigation features. You can also read about and view photos from our trip. With how much distance we still have to cover, I start to think we might not finish hiking until 4 AM. $5/night (/person? This hike was easily one of our hardest day hikes, but oh so fun! Go straight at the “four corners” intersection, where the road becomes dirt. So, if you purchase one of the items discussed, we receive a small amount of compensation at no extra cost to you. # Nights: 1. References / Trip Tools The trail begins at the Usal Beach campground, named for the USA Lumber Company, which built a sawmill here in 1889. If you plan to use one of these, be sure to call ahead and book your shuttle. Background View of the beach at Little Jackass Creek. Interestingly, there are a few isolated old-growth redwoods along the side of the road. . But if you are looking to get off the beaten path, have an extreme adventure, and explore the coast between Usal and Needle Rock, the Sinkyone Lost Coast offers a rugged backpacking experience. Within 10 min, the first round of fireworks begin to go off over on the beach. And if you’ve reserved a shuttle through Lost Coast Adventure Tours, call the company to confirm your ETA before cell reception cuts out. Ensure you have enough fuel and water. From here, it switch backs up a steep slope through another forest of ferns. Park in the pullout across from the visitor center and pay the $6.00 parking fee. It’s 11:30 AM, we awkwardly get on our bikes, having never biked with a backpacking pack before, and head off down the Chemise Mountain Road, Philip on his mountain bike and I on my hybrid. Click to see a similar view on a foggy day. Unfortunately this part of the trail follows the route of an old logging road and has become heavily overgrown with 8 foot tall purple pampas grass, an invasive plant that commonly grows on the sides of logging roads in redwood forests. Not the most ideal setup for bike packing, but heck the best gear for a trip is the gear you already have. Parking Needle Rock Visitor Center The Lost Coast Trail can be divided into three sections, which can be linked together or hiked separately. It is 25 miles of trail to make it the final destination, Shelter Cove. To get to Usal Beach, follow these directions from the California Department of Parks and Recreation: “Approximately one hour north of Ft Bragg on Highway 1 or 15 miles west of Leggett on Highway 1 from Highway 101. The shortest route is a 64.5mi bike ride on Briceland Thorn Rd to route 101 to highway 1 and then on Usal Rd, connecting from Shelter Cove to Usal Beach. Once off the pavement and on the old four wheel drive logging roads (Usal Road), the biking begins to slowdown and the entertainment factor increases. View from Chamisal Mountain as the sun is setting. 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. Research Camping Permits, King Range Camping Permit Apparently, our bodies really needed a break. At first the road is so narrow and overgrown that it’s almost indistinguishable from a singletrack trail. 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. But, if you feel the need to purchase one, you can buy California’s Lost Coast Recreation Map by Wilderness Press. Old-growth redwoods in Little Jackass Creek Camp. The largest redwoods are right at the bottom of the hill; they tend to be slightly twisted and gnarled and lack the height or the magnificent, straight-as-an-arrow appearance of the redwoods in the major redwood parks. The Lost Coast is a section of the California North Coast in Humboldt County, which includes the King Range. This is the worst brushy section of the entire trail; it continues for about a mile but feels never-ending. At mile 1.5 the trail begins a steep and unpleasantly brush-clogged climb up an exposed hillside. It will take me a little while to rebuild it and though it will never hold a candle to Henry's former page, I'll do my best. A web browser that supports HTML5 is required to view the map. It goes all along the Pacific Ocean via rocky beaches, sandy beaches, bluff trails and creek crossings. Around 18mi in we realize we haven’t been drinking enough water and start getting Charlie horses in our legs. It’s quite a slow and unpleasant half-mile. Distance: 53.28 mi The last two and a half miles of the hike follow an old section of Briceland Thorn Road. The Lost Coast Trail is a popular summer backpacking route along the shoreline of a remote region in Northern California. We arrive at the trailhead and begin packing our packs, pumping our bike tires up, and pulling together food. But, there is something about pushing your body in this way and seeing what it is capable of that makes it exciting. By you purchasing a product, you are supporting our site and helping to keep it going. You can start this hike from three different trailheads. The trail finally improves as it climbs out of the canyon, but then there’s more brush. Much further down the trail is a final campsite in a small clearing next to some redwoods. It’s not clear when the road will reopen. Until recently it was possible to drive this section, but a landslide near Needle Rock has made it too dangerous and the road is now closed to vehicles. 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. 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