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Amazing trail. This was my first coastal hiking, and as the other reviewers said here, it is important to download a tide chart and understand how to read it as there are two 4-mile stretches of impassible zones.

I found low tide easier to hike because the sand was more packed, and I could avoid more of the cobblestone type rocks. The northern impassible zone would likely be truly impassible in my experience (I travelled at full moon and very light surf and winds) - I hit that part at receding tide and even then some areas were iffy.

The impassible zone south of Miller flat may be doable in high tide with calm conditions, but I wouldn’t risk it.

The views, solitude and wildlife make this trail one of my all time favorites. I bought a map, rented a bear canister and got a free tide chart from the lost coast adventures shuttle.

Please note that there is no cell service in Settlers Cove and anywhere along the coast - so plan in advance.

One of the coolest hikes I’ve done! Make sure to start early since camping spots started to fill up by the time we got close to the lake around 1:00. Beautiful waterfall about half way; great opportunity for a little rest, and refilling on water. Last 2 miles or so are tough, lots of switch backs and exposed in the sun, but worth it for the views and lake.

You do need a permit. They can be picked up the day of (or day before) at the Weaverville Ranger station kiosk, no cost.

Cons:
- 5+ hour drive to Bay Area
- $80 shuttle ride not including tip
- Walking long stretches on wet, unstable rocks
- Lots of poison ivy
- Had to climb portions of rock that are very dangerous where tide came in too high
- Walking at an angle in sand that is not packed down at all, caused foot injury for me
- Lot of people backpacking the trail
- Tides coming in and out very stressful, reaching and finishing impassable zones challenging
- Zero marking on trail
- Bear footprints on beach
- Very difficult to be rescued in this area and is dangerous enough to be a concern
- no cell service
Pros:
- Beautiful scenery
- Some private campsites

My boyfriend and I are avid backpackers and completed this trail in 2 nights/3 days in mid July.
I did not enjoy it and found myself looking down for a lot of the trail trying to stay balanced on the rocks. I personally do not find walking on rocks to be enjoyable when backpacking. My boyfriend liked the trail because of the challenge. For me, it was too difficult to enjoy. I thought this trail would be mostly walking on sand and did not factor in the rock aspect or stress with the impassable tide zones. There were a lot of people hiking the trail and I was hoping to be a little more isolated than that. There was one very sketchy portion of the trail we encountered on the first day where the water on the beach was too high so we had to climb up and over a portion of rocks that was very dangerous with some other people who took the same shuttle as us. (note: this was not at high tide) The one upside was that the scenery was beautiful. However, I advise really knowing what you are getting into, this is not an easy or moderate trail by any means.

Great Long trail! There’s a clear path for the most part. There are laid out rocks when not clear. We were in pursuit of the Tuolumne Waterfall but it’s a simple stream running down creating many mini waterfalls.

can't get any better

Only spent one day backpacking out here but wish we could’ve spent more. Absolutely beautiful trail with delightful surprises with new views as you make your way to camp. Definitely want to do this again with more days because from Glen Aulin, there’s other falls 3-5 miles out that I heard are gorgeous!

Pros: Incredibly, unbelievably beautiful and humbling landscapes that get better and better as you head up the valley. Perfect temperature lakes for swimming (exactly the right reward after the final push across hot exposed rock). Many opportunities to explore surrounding peaks as day hikes if you make a base camp at the lakes for a few days. Solid workout hiking in with overnight packs. Gigantic old trees. Lots o stars. Did I mention that it is just incomprehensibly beautiful?

Cons: Huge numbers of people hiking to the falls and camping at the lakes on the weekend in summer (which should seem obvious but I neglected to consider), so select your time wisely and do not expect solitude depending on when you go. Some dirty toilet paper here and there, but mostly trash and waste free, so please keep it that way. Most of the hike is high above Canyon Creek on the valley side, so you don't get to be near water a whole lot save for a few points.

Overall, if you're trying to decide whether or not to go, definitely do it. Be mindful of the volume of people it attracts and take care to keep this area as clean as possible.

I spent 6 days hiking the Yosemite High Sierras and stayed one night in each of the 6 tent camps and the best photo I have of the quintessential Yosemite view was taken from the bridge going over the Tuolomne River just before coming into the Glen Aulin High Sierra camp.

A beautiful trip! If you’re decently in shape and have good balance, you can do this trip in 2 full days, but it’s nice to have some extra time to soak in the beauty.

Definitely wear waterproof hiking boots so you don’t roll your ankle (you probably will anyways. There is barely any elevation gain, but you will be walking on the slanted beach, which feels odd after many miles of repetitive strain. Bring layers!

You need a permit and a bear canister. We saw bear prints in the sand. There aren’t many trees hang your food from.

The impassible zones are indeed impassible at high tide! Make sure you check the tide chart, or get ready to be very wet. We went about an hour after a moderately high high tide and were chased by many waves. It was very fun, but know what you’re getting into.

A lot less strenuous than I thought. Nice three day trip!

Absolutely stunning. Perfect first backpacking trip with plenty of water along the way.

Great hike. A little bit of everything. Stream and waterfalls up in to sculpted granite peaks and high mountain lakes. We did it as a 4 day 3 night trip. Night 1 we stayed just above the meadows (approx. 10 miles in) at a great campsite right on the Stuart Fork. Day 2 we went up to Emerald Lake (approx. 5 miles) and found a cool camp spot on the far end of the lake. There is some fishing opportunities in the lake. Day 3 we headed back down and stayed at another awesome campsite off the Stuart Fork again about 5 miles in from the trail head. Day 4 back to the parking lot by 11am. Very steady manageable grade up to the lake. Some bugs in early July but jungle juice did the trick.

Hiked the southern Lost Coast Trail (Sinkyone Wilderness) with my son in early July 2018. Stared at Hidden Valley, out at Usal beach 3 days and 3 nights on the trail. Many beautiful sections on the trail, especially the tracks through the redwoods and near the coast (jones beach to bear harbor especially.) Sections through the dry, exposed tall grass and scrub sections were VERY challenging. Impossible without poles. Trail has collapsed in many sections. Lots of trees across the trail in higher sections. Lower sections overgrown with nettles & thorns. No trail maintenance in many years. Recommend long pants and long sleeves and gloves and boot traction covers (seriously!). Sinkyone VERY different from Kings Range section. Multiple 1000 ft plus elevation gains and losses. More time in the redwoods, very little on the beach. But ample rewards for the adventurous and prepared! Relatively few hikers on the trail. No problem finding nice campsites at backcountry sites. No problem with water at stream crossings. Lots of Elk, especially at Jones beach. No evidence of bears.
In summary, a challenging AND rewarding hike. Not for newbies or unprepared. 3 full days recommended for full southern section.

We hiked the trail to Emerald Lake, setting up camp at Morris Meadows (~8mi from the trailhead, 4-5mi to Emerald Lake). The trail is well shaded for the most part to Morris Meadows and subsequently is densely packed with vegetation. The tree cover is a blessing as the trail does get pretty hot in the afternoon. However, it is also a bane since it eliminates any views of the peaks surrounding the forest. I found the trail to be fairly challenging mentally due to the monotony of just walking through the forest for several miles. It is relatively easy physically, which is probably one of the reasons why it is as crowded as it gets - our campground ran out of campsites by 5 pm.

On the plus side, this region is rich in wildlife - we saw bears, snakes, deer and many birds. Water is also abundant, so you don't have to lug around much if you carry filtration equipment. As a plus, if you have a water-loving dog, they will have a blast (ours definitely did). Finally, the permitting process is one of the easiest in all of California.

Got eaten by mosquitoes. Bring bug spray. Footbridge to the campsite is down, had to go upstream to wade through the Creek or walk across a fallen tree (not Tuolumne River but Conness Creek). The creek crossing wasn’t bad, but care must be taken.

Went in May, one of the most gorgeous hikes I’ve ever done.

Canyon creek never disappoints!

A rare gem where it is possible to backpack along the Pacific Coast without any sign of civilization. To reiterate what others have said you want to understand the tide and protect your food from bears. Its a lot of loose rocks more than packed sand, so the miles here will take a lot more out of you than they would in other places. Sneakers might actually be a better choice than hiking boots for this trail.

We 3 did the north section from June 1st to June 3rd.
The weather was amazine, the forecast said it has somewhere 15 mph gust and regular 10 wind, but I don't really feel it. Temperature around 70-80 during the day and around 50 at night.

We camped at Shelter Cove RV and Campground on 31st, it is a much more expensive campground($46 for 3 people), but it has shower, and flush toilet, and most importantly, it is very close and reservable to the Black Sand Beach Trailhead, where we take our shuttle.

We took Lost Coast Adventure shuttle to Mattole Beach Trailhead. The service was nice and price reasonable. The only improvement which I would say is maybe ability to adjust the shuttle according to tide time, will be better.

Speaking of the tide, I originally was not quite sure about how high a tide is safe for hiking. I was planning for 2.5ft as the safe zone for us to hike, which only allow us to hike early morning to noon. But during our hike we assessed the actual situation, we actually hiked in 3-4 ft(forecast tide level, not actual) period and we did it. There was only one or two points which I felt a bit sketchy between Miller Flat to Shipman Creek during 3-4 ft tide zone. But we managed to get through, giving the beautiful weather and mercy of little-wind.

My original plan was first day 4.5 miles to Seal Lion Gulch, second day 12 miles to Miller Flat, third day end the hike with 8.5 miles. But after words I felt we totally didn't follow the plan.

We 3 are all relatively fast hikers, we started at 9:30am, reached Sea Lion Gulch around 11:45ish, one of our guy's boots had failed him having the front half of the out soles falling from the boots. He managed to fixed it with duct tape and we kept going. We arrived at Cooskie Creek about some time past 1pm.

We took lunch, nap on the beach, it was beautiful. And we started again at 5:45pm, this time we reached Spanish Flat. The hike of the later afternoon was much harder than the morning, the terrain was mostly soccer sized pebbles and the tide was higher than the morning. We need to be really careful about the footing and watch the tide. We arrived at Spanish Flat about 7:30. Started a fire, had dinner, and I played with my camera, finally after so many backpacking trip carrying it without utilizing it, shot the starry sky.

Second day we started late around a quarter to 10 am, same pattern, this time we took our break at Miller flat around 2. There was nice swimming holes at both Big Creek and Miller Flat, we took a dip at Miller Flat.

We picked up from Miller flat at about 5:15pm. Here after Miller Flat we came across the sketchy point about less than a mile towards Shipman Creek. Once we arrived at Shipman Creek, the poor guy's outsoles was found completely peeled off the bottom of the boots. Again, this genius hiker fixed it again with ropes, multitool, and small pebbles! Such creativity!!! We finally camped at Gitchell Creek at 7:30pm, enjoyed incredible sunset, warm campfire and amazing starry night sky again.

Last day was easy, only 3.6 miles, but all on sandy beach, walking was not as easy as on solid ground. We finished the hike at 12pm.

An absolutely amazing hike. I went to Emerald and Sapphire lakes and spread it out between three days. Even though I was completely out of shape it was all doable and worth it. The trail starts out easy enough to get you warmed up and gets harder as it progressed.

Beautiful trail. Plenty of wildlife.

backpacking
2 months ago

Trip Dates: June 1st, 2018 to June 3, 2018

This trail is tough and I’ve done my fair share of tough ones. The difficulty comes with just essentially going uphill for 9 miles. Some parts are steeper than others but seemingly always up. Based on the topo map, it appears that the last 2.5 miles are the easiest... wrong. I’d say they were the hardest as you’re tired and hiking over rubbley granite which grinds on the feet and still plenty of uphill.

The prize at the end (three lake basin), however, is worth it if you are spending an extra day up there to relax. It would be quite a feat to push up there one day and come back the next. We headed up on a Friday and had one day of rest (Saturday) which was highly necessary. The views were breathtaking and we had (quite nearly) absolute solitude! We fished (for trout) and caught 3! Soaked up the sun. Swung in our hammocks and caught up on reading. I even dove into the lake... which is pure snow melt and COLD! But all in all, it was paradise. We headed down the following day (Sunday).

Things to know:

1. There are plenty of water sources along the trail during the dates we went (rivers, brooks and finally, lakes)

2. I never got a lick of reception (nor did I expect it) but I heard you can get it (dependent on your carrier I’m sure if you hike up the ridge (snow covered though)

3. As of the dates we went, the trail was clear of snow and there were only a few little patches here and there up at the lakes. If you hike up to the ridge though, you will run into some for sure.

4. There is trout fishing in the upper lake for sure and they were biting. The ones we caught though were fairly small.

5. The ratio of sun exposed to shade is about 65/35. Doing it in mid-August would likely be pretty brutal.

6. Not a crowded trail. Hardly ran into anyone, so that was nice but also if you get hurt, help is not coming for you anytime soon so be aware of that.

7. During our dates, I hardly noticed the bug situation. It was not too severe, but might be as it gets hotter.

8. Remember before you go to get a Wilderness Permit and Fire Permit (both available at the Weaverville Ranger Station at the self-serve Kiosk, so you can go get that even if the station isn’t open). Both are required even if you only intend on using a camp stove.

Hope this is helpful! Stay safe!

So far, I try to never go to the same TH twice. However, I loved this place so much that I cannot WAIT to go back.
The worst part of this trip, was that it got cut short.
There is a nice campground at...Alpine Lake, I believe. Lots of water sources along the way and creek crossings, which is always fun.
I would say the Morris Meadows Campground is more like 9 miles. It is definitely an ideal location. The second site out of the 3 is huge and had multiple fire rings from previous burns. It would be good for a large group or if a couple families get there.
We experience the most wonderful rain and thunderstorm while there. My friend left her tent open, which made for the immediate departure.
The hike to Emerald Lakes was an easy one, but we left our packs at camp. With our packs, probably would have been not as easy. Hah.
I definitely recommend. Also, just prefer this Wilderness. They aren't as strict. Hopefully, people don't leave big messes and force them to enforce stricter rules.

This was a life changing backpacking trail. Couple of recommendations: (1) Download the tide chart and plan around the impassable areas https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/noaatidepredictions.html?id=9418024 (2) Treat your clothing for ticks with permethrin - ticks are particularly bad in Humboldt county according to local hospitals. Enjoy your time - the wildflowers are beautiful, look for starfish and other wildlife!

Description
This is a magical trail that has absolutely the most beautiful views of the coastline while providing an isolated completely plugged out experience. You don't have to go all the way one way. Couple of options: 1. Go all the way and arrange for a ride to drop off at parking location
2. Start at the north point and do as far as you want. Camp and do day hikes through the trail to get a good look at the middle section
3. Start on the south end and do the same as # 2
Either way you will get plenty of site seeing and some wildlife if you're lucky. We got to see a herd of Elk passing by. They were playing at the beach - I have never seen animals having fun at the beach like these elks.

There are many wet parts of the trail, you are inevitably going to get we, so bring waterproof shoes and clothes that will dry easy. If you catch warm weather, the beach was a lot of fun to hang around and explore.

were there this memorial weekend no snow on the trail up to the 3rd lake

AmaZing trail! Well shaded for the first 10 miles. Tons of water. We brought our dog. We planned to go to alpine lake but the river crossing was too high to ford so we ended up camping near deer creek - 7 miles in - and day hiking to emerald and sapphire. Views of and from the lake reminded me of the eastern sierras alpine lakes. Saw two rattle snakes on the tail right before Caribou trail turn off. Saw tons of other garter snakes. Amazingly we got lucky and there were no mosquitoes and very few bugs. No poison oak. Sapphire lake is the deepest lake in the trinity alps at 200ft deep. Saw some beautiful golden trout swimming.

As for the debate about the mileage: Trail sign says 14 miles to Sapphire. All trails says 12.4 miles and outdoor project maps says 14 to emerald. As an avid backpacker and hiker and trail runner, I would say it felt more like 14miles.
100% recommend this trail!

Take caution around L Lake. We saw fresh bear tracks in the snow.

This was my first backpacking trip and it was absolutely amazing! Just incredibly beautiful. If you love the beach, you get it. Did it comfortably in three days (Start 5/19 @ 10am - End 5/21 @ 3pm). 2 days is tough but doable. Bring tide charts because there are impassable sections. Would recommend buying the BLM map. Campsites are easily found and common at wide mouthed rivers even in the impassable sections! Plenty of water sources. There’s relative solitude during Spring/Summer. Permit is required! Would recommend going North to South, taking a shuttle Mattole and leaving your car at the Black Sands. Terrain is pretty roughy, either big rocks or sand so be prepared! Absolutely amazing trip!

Have done this hike twice now, once to the lakes and this weekend just to Morris Meadows, as I was intending to do Alpine Lake on an overnighter, but Stuart Fork was too high to cross this early in the year, and I got a late start to the trailhead.

Overall, the trail is pretty moderate with mostly a gradual incline until the scramble below the lakes. As others have mentioned, however, the trail is longer than advertised. I submitted an edit recommendation for the trailhead lat /long to be revised, so hopefully that will help make the description closer to accurate. There are several areas with multiple established camp sites, i.e. where you veer left to do the Alpine Lake trail (there is a sign), off to the left around mile 7 where the trail has a decline back to the level of the river, and at the south end of the meadow, which is around mile 9, to name a few.

This time, my hike was very quiet, I only saw about a dozen people over the course of 2 days, but late last June, the trail was much more crowded, and the people in the camp site next to us got drunk and obnoxious in the evening which is, unfortunately, probably not that uncommon of an occurrence given how busy this trail can get during peak season (though still nothing compared to much of the Sierras or the Tahoe area). Still incredible though and absolutely worth the effort!

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