Get Lost - Punta Gorda Lighthouse is a 6.4 mile out and back trail located near Petrolia, CA. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking.
It was such an amazing hike! Beautiful views along the entire hike. The lighthouse is beautiful and we saw seals sunbathing right in front of it. We came back with a ton of ticks so just be careful if you go in the spring.
After stumbling across this article, I am motivated to do this hike again, just for memories' sake. I did this in 1967 with a college hiking club. At that time several of the buildings around the lighthouse were still standing. The one sight that stands out in my memory is the ship traffic (freighters) heading north toward Humboldt Bay.
I went out to this trail with my boyfriend and our friend for a leisurely Sunday afternoon hike. The sun was out and shining brightly but thanks to the high winds we never got too warm. On the way to the lighthouse we walked mostly along the beach, cutting up to the trail when the wind started flinging sand into our legs. The trail is much easier, but I'd still walk on the beach at least part of the way -- I just love being close to the ocean, being able to check out tide pools, and spot seals (seal lions? I never know the difference) bobbing in the surf.
It took us about an hour and a quarter to get to the lighthouse and it did not disappoint. It was absolutely beautiful and we spent half an hour climbing around in it and taking pictures. If you do climb to the top of the lighthouse, watch your head going up the ladder -- it's a very small opening.
The way back was slightly rough thanks to the wind. We took the trail for the entire way back but still ended up slogging through loose sand for half the trek. This alone wouldn't have been so bad, but the wind was so high that we couldn't even talk to each other unless we shouted. I've never experienced wind that high and actually found it a little fun. The trip back took us an hour and a half thanks to the wind.
This is a really wonderful hike. I don't know how one could possibly take two days to do it. The effort of carrying backpacking supplies over loose sand seems like it would counteract any benefits from taking more than one day on the trail. Wear sunscreen, even if it's windy, and bring plenty of water and you'll be fine. Oh, and a camera; photo opportunities are endless.
A very beautiful, challenging hike! My husband and I just did this hike yesterday with our dogs on 1/2/2015. The day was so sunny and beautiful, and no wind until 5pm.
We set out at 1 and got to the light house a little after 4 we only took a 10 minute break and maybe 5 1 minute breaks. On the way there we walked the beach which was so so challenging. We are in our early 20's and are also experienced hikers but this has to be the hardest hike we've done due to the sand. Also there was a fairly deep stream we had to wade through due to the season. The beach was full of beautiful shells and invertebrae parts, ones weve never seen before and We are Humboldt locals. the beach combing was unreal. There were so so so many tide pools that we wish we had time to go through! Next time!
We spent 20-30 min at the lighthouse. It was magical putting you back in time, you can really feel a different energy there.
We took the path through the grasslands back to the beginning of the trail, it was easier but still had a lot of powdery sand you had to walk through. At some points I wanted to crawl But I felt so good after the hike ha!
So if your use to sand, plan out the low tide timing, and don't mind crossing some water during the rainy season you can do this in one day. 2 days would be better but we didn't want to be around for an earthquake there, which happens very frequently in that area. There actually was one there the day we went but it didn't occur while we were there thank god
We got back to the car at 6. We took a few breaks totaling 15-20 minutes.
Dress in layers, wear sunscreen, bring lots of food and water, a flashlight if your coming back at night and you'll most likely want some bear spray or at least a strong pepper spray. Also bring a knife and lighter, toilet paper, and gloves just in case. If it's sunny like the day we went you might want to wear a hat. Your clothes are really just going to depend on the weather which varies from freezing, hot, windy as fuck, no wind at all, bright and sunny, or foggy and misty. You want to be prepared for it all honestly the weather changes fast especially towards the night
I agree with another review indicating that this is not an out-and-back, one day hike if you aren't used to walking and hiking through fine sand. The majority of the trail is through exactly that, and it will exhaust you quickly even if you frequently hike on other types of trails.
The wind was consistently strong, leaning toward ridiculously strong as we approached the lighthouse. We were with some friends who had done the trail before many times, but they are locals and are used to hiking on sand. We didn't make it to the lighthouse.
Along the ocean all the way out and back
A couple of caves along the way into which you can pop for a minute to rest out of the wind
Fine sand trail that winds through large groupings of poison oak in many places
No shade (if it happens to be a sunny day, you're in trouble)
I've been hiking out to Punta Gorda Lighthouse since 1976. This is a great trail for beginners and families with younger children, if you plan to campout at the lighthouse and return the next day. I can't imagine going out and back in one day. the reason is this: the trail is the south side of the "farthest point west of the continental USA" making the winds consistantly strong and deceptively dehydrating; and second, the first half is through soft sand making it exhausting on one's ankles. Best plan is to use hydration packs, caring plenty of extra water and use trekking poles. If you get to the lighthouse-or if you get back to the parking lot (on a 1 day trip) and you can't move or don't have energy to fix a meal, you didn't drink enough water.
the lighthouse was abandoned after wwII.
We ran into an old guy at the beginning of our first trip in "76 who said he had been stationed there during the war as punishment for refusing to reenlist in the Coast Guard. When his tour was up, he told his superiors he would reenlist if they would station him out there again. Their response was "we don't like your kind!"