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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.

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.

Love this spot!!!

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!

Camped at east area at MacKerricher and left from there. We've done the portion on the point before so we didn't do it as part of this hike.

Long, flat, maintained service road is like 75% of the hike. Great Pacific views and plenty of little beaches to stop at.

Once you're at Fort Bragg it is sidewalk...and Glass Beach is so-so if you are just two adults.

Not much to look at eastward the whole walk.

Good to do as an activity if you're camping where we were to get some exercise...but I think a bike would be more fun...with a picnic on these hard to get to beaches.

Beautiful hike along the beach. I highly recommend taking the upper ridge trail - we took the beach for half of the way there and definitely regret it. Although the upper ridge is soft sand in parts, overall much much better trail with just as beautiful views. Lighthouse was stunning with elephant seals sleeping right on the beach!

The trail is really nice, we have hiked it about 4 times now early in the morning and it is always peaceful and cool temperature wise. would highly recommend if you want to start your day off with a great hike

Camped at Surfwood, so started the trail from the Main Beach day use parking area across the street from the campgrounds. I took the boardwalk to the point. On the return walk from the point, when the boardwalk starts to loop back around, there are trails that lead from the boardwalk. You have to hop down from the boardwalk; the trails aren’t marked with signage. I took one of them, and it was awesome for about a mile. It was a foggy, misty morning, but was still beautiful. Saw a Plover and pretty, bright red coastal succulents. After about a mile though, the trail hits a waterway and is overgrown, but detours to actual old haul road. A lot of cyclists and more people. It was early still, so I’m sure that road gets a lot more traffic later in the day. I was hoping for a longer trail along the coast. Still was a lovely and easy walk.

This is an amazing place. I would recommend going off trail, because there are tons of dunes a bit inland to explore

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.

June 12, 2018. My wife and I started at around 1:30 and took the high path (last 1/4 of the hike) on the way to the lighthouse. Note that the high trail is less traveled but the trail map w/GPS kept us pretty close to the barely discernible track. We saw many different varieties of flowers on the trip out which was a treat and the ocean views are spectacular.. Recommend hiking boots and poles if taking the high trail. We returned north via the low route... Lots of loose sand and strong headwinds made it a bit of a slog. Trip time ~ 2 hours out and 2 hours back. We are experienced hikers in our 60s and would give this a “hard” rating for a one day out and back (wind, sand, water crossing, and route finding (upper trail portion only).

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.

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.

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!

hiking
3 months ago

If other people and off leash dogs offend you then do this hike early on a Sun morning with rain in the forecast, you will have the place to yourself. There is a sign in the parking lot that says the trail is closed 3 miles in due to wet, muddy conditions, however we walked 3.7 miles before we turned around and the trail was in great shape, no mud, no signs indicating closure...? We’ll be coming back to during spawning season to see the salmon.

hiking
3 months ago

was a gorgeous trail, for the amount of people the trails became very narrow and they're kinda of super muddy right now. my sister in law slipped on the muddy cement steps and got injured. otherwise was enjoyable

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful!

About 7 of us and my dog did this entire trip just last weekend. March 16-19, 2018. It was incredible. We expected rain but ended up with perfect blue skies and warm weather.
Creeks were high but still passable. Always expect to get wet on this trip. If you pack and dress appropriately then its not even an issue.
The campsites are defined by the fire pits alone the bluffs. I would seriously not recommend camping on the beach. The sand is manageable but the sand fleas are a nightmare. They are active all night. It almost sounds like it’s raining out the tent.
The wildlife was amazing. We saw seals and elephant seals, sea otters, tons of cool shorebirds, and even blow holes from the whales passing in the distance.
Shuttle from the south end to the north end. The road is rough and it’s better to leave the driving to the experts.
And take notes from other blogs. This trail is hard. 10 miles on flat ground is easy but the loose rock and sand turns 2 full steps into about 1 1/2 steps. Even the fastest hiker is slowed down.
I would not recommend for any dog’s first backpacking trip. By the last day my dog was sore and tired. He’s only two. Booties are required for all dogs. I took my dogs booties off at campsites or short stretches of soft sand. His feet were still tender afterwards but far better than being cut up and beaten.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful afternoon or Sunday hike in the spring. Check along the creek at one point with a fern covered tree that you can easily climb onto! The last couple mile incline got a bit muddy, swampy, and slippery.

on Elk River Trail

hiking
5 months ago

Easily one of the most epic backpacking trips in NorCal. A rugged, oceanside trail, like no other. I wrote about it more extensively in my blog post here: https://slugpace.com/lost-coast-trail/

we went in August and there was plenty of water sources. there wasn't that much poison oak. when there was it was avoidable.tons of wildlife. amazing trip.

It was a wonderful experience except the number of dogs off leash made it hard to walk my dogs on leash. So please if you visit with your fur friends keep your dog on leash and pick up after it :) they even have bags at the entrance

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail. Especially with a dog and also off leash!

Great trail! Challenging, but fun. At the 3 mile marker, there is a sign that says “dogs and bike prohibited beyond this point,” so not dog friendly the whole way.

best california beach experience out there. bring extra socks!

Excellent trail but it is mostly sand and wet jagged rocks with lots of boulder hopping and walking on gravel. You can easily slip at any point in this trail and get severely injured.

Day 2 from cooksie creek to big flats creek was the best.

I recommend against taking your dog it is extremely dangerous for them. You will have to carry them at certain points where you need to cross jagged shale steps. If you do take a dog that dog needs to have the best endurance (handle sun exposure, Must have boots and have used them before). Do not take your dog unless it has previous experience with extremely difficult terrain.

beautiful trail! views are amazing and it's a very unique trail! lots of sand and pebble trail walking.

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