From beaches to high peaks commanding outstanding vistas, the King Range Wilderness is the wildest portion of the California coast. Indeed, the King Range is the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the United States outside of Alaska. Botanists consider the region's dune system extremely unique in that the aggressive introduced European dune grass has not yet encroached, as it has on most coastal dunes north of San Francisco. Rare coastal ancient forests of Douglas fir, madrone, and tan oak dominate the Honeydew Creek watershed. Endangered species include leafy reedgrass, California brown pelican, steelhead trout, Chinook and Coho salmon, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, northern spotted owl, and Roosevelt elk. The California Coastal Trail traverses the entire length of the area. In 2000, President Clinton designated the rocks and islands just offshore as the California Coast National Monument. Mountains, forests, streams, and coastal bluffs of the King Range Wilderness provide homes for the bald eagle, American peregrine falcon, osprey, spotted owl, Roosevelt elk, otter, gray fox, black bear, and other wildlife.
Amazing hike! Definitely plan for at least 3 nights and 4 days. It gets very cold and windy at night, and you will FOR SURE get wet while crossing some creeks or walking along the coast. Make sure you get a map and a tide chart from the station before you start hiking. Plan your hikes and distance around the tides. It took us twice as long to travel on sand, so take that into consideration. We hiked north to south, and the last section has 4 miles of impassible terrain during high tide. Make sure to do this section during a receding/low tide, as well as the last 3 miles before Black Sand Beach. If you need a place to stop and camp there are hidden campgrounds up on the hills about 3/4 of a mile after the 4miles of impassible tide crossing. The impasible tide is real, I got hit and dragged a bit w my dog even though we did it during receding ride. Keep your pup on leash when traveling along the coast or crossing the creeks. Our dogs tried to run after a a couple of beavers making their way to the ocean. The doggy backpack with the handle on top was helpful to lift them and help them cross strong currents. Doggie boots are a MUST. Use them during rocky sections along the coast- give their paws a rest when is just sand or regular trail. Keep all your food and toiletries in a bear canister, there are bears and small rodents that will steal your food and any good smelling belongings. Bring a pair of water moccasins to help you cross through the creeks and keep your walking shoes dry. Also, extra pairs of socks and mold skin to help with blisters. Overall, amazing hike and just enough adrenaline for a fun adventure!
At first we did not like this trail! If there were trail heads, they are hard to find. We ended up hiking all the way to rattlesnake ridge the first day, and had to double back to camp on the beach huts, they were super cool! We ended up taking two days to hike back to our car, that originally took one day. But we ended up meeting a park ranger on the way back, she was super nice. Just FYI get the map from the ranger station, that's why we had such a difficult time finding trails. If you are ok with lots of sand, and a major leg work out, then this trail would be good. We saw lots of wild life, it's not very cold at night, in fact I often unzipped my sleeping bag. We did pass the impassable shore line, just be very careful. Overall, it was very fun and pretty, definitely will go back!
Just completed a figure 8 of both the northern section in the King's Range (more frequently hiked) and the southern section in the Sinkyone Wilderness. We chose to hike the Southern section first so that the tides worked in our favor on the northern section. Someone had mentioned that the southern section was rugged but we weren't prepared for just how unmaintained the trail actually was. Tons of sharp steep small switchbacks from Usal to Needle Rock with lots of elevation climb and descent (you have to hike over ridges to then descend to the ocean for camping). We spend 2.5 days on the southern section in almost complete solitude... There was no one else on the trail with us until we hit Wheeler... And then people were hiking in through Needle Rock so they didn't have to set up a shuttle. It was amazing and quite possibly one of the hardest hikes I've done but definitely most rewarding. We then set up a shuttle for the northern section to hike Mattole to Black Sands Beach and went in on a Sunday which ended up being great timing because we felt we were somewhere in the middle of others hikes. The first 12 miles of the northern section is amazing and I would hike it again in a heart beat. Mattole to Cooksie was fantastic but I would just hate to hike against that northern wind! The last 10 miles of the northern section is mostly rock and sand and can be very challenging. We met plenty of people that said they would never do the trail again because of it. Again we spent our nights at the campsites either alone or with only 1 or 2 other small groups of people. It was definitely amazing. The drive out of Mattole to Eureka was a sight in and of itself! The roads are not maintained well but the views were spectacular!! I will come back for sure.
Hiked this trail in November of 2014.
Still to this day, out of my hundreds of miles of backpacking, view this as one of the most incredible trails. Words can not describe the energy of the place and how easily it is overlooked. Don't make this mistake and do this trail if you have a chance.
I parked at the Southside and hitchiked to the north end, which took me 1.5 days. After Mattole, I headed south over 3 days and took time to enjoy it all. the people I met were amazing and the experiences were the best.
This is a non-negotiable if you love backpacking.
Beyond word. This trail is everything anyone could ask for.
We backpacked 5 days going from north to south (Mattole Beach to Usal Beach). The north section is all along the beach. Flat but sandy and rocky (and windy!) Trekking poles were a huge help. The south section was in and out of the mountains along side the ocean. Some pretty steep climbs and intense declines but every turn brings you face to face with something spectacular! Wild flowers, lush green trails, golden sunsets, nearly-tropical flora along side towering redwoods. Truly phenomenal.
I will be returning to the Lost Coast again next year!
Such a beautiful trail. Had a great time backpacking this trail. Hiked the trail in 2.5 days. Recommend hiking north to south. Because of wind will be at your back. Start at Mattole and end at Black Sand Beach. Quick not trail is mostly beach walking and sand can be deep.
Amazing trail with lots of beautiful ocean views. Be mindful of high tides. Parts are impassible during high tides. Low tides gives you the ability to see beautiful tide pools and speeds up your hiking time due to walking on compacted sand. Don't forget to stop and take in the sights
A favorite! We did 31 miles on the lost coast and i cant wait to do it again! I went with a dog, and believe me, you absolutely need dog booties for your pooch! Hiking on the beach isn't easy, but be super mindful of high and low tides. Our group got 'stranded' on a ridge during an unexpected high-tide. Luckily, we saw approx. 30-35 grey whales while we waited!! Bring water pumps/filter, and rain-gear :) Beautiful California poppies surrounded parts of the trail! Saw tons of wildlife. Enjoy!
Great Hike! I went there with a couple friends and we entered the State Park from the south. We camped on the beach and did a short day hike. 6 Miles round trip. We turned around at Dark Gulch. We definitely didn't even scratch the surface of the place so we can't wait to go back. There were a lot more people there than we expected unfortunately and finding a camping spot on a Friday was a little difficult. Which is why we camped on the beach and not under the trees a few hundred yards away.
Note: When we were there the fog was very thick and the sea breeze kept things cool/chilly for the less insulated. The trail will take you above the fog layer so bring sunscreen as well.