Looking for a great trail in King Range Wilderness, California? AllTrails has 16 great hiking trails, views trails, walking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 11 moderate trails in King Range Wilderness ranging from 4.6 to 48.4 miles and from 36 to 4,074 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

hiking

views

bird watching

nature trips

wildlife

forest

wild flowers

walking

camping

beach

backpacking

dog friendly

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.

Excellent trail! Lots of wildlife and amazing coastal views.

Hi fellow All Trails users! This is not a trail review, instead I’m looking to to see if anyone happens to have a permit for King’s Ranch August 2-4 for overnight backpacking this trail. I’m happy to pay the permit fee entirely or more if you have one to spare or space two accommodate two more people since the permit allows up to 5 people. Please feel free to email me at djgreens07@gmail.com and thanks for considering! Cheers, David

Absolutely stunning backpack. Highly recommended if you get the chance, but be prepared for some sandy hiking and tide crossings!

Such a great trip. Hiking is def tough but so beautiful. We got lucky on weather and camping. Stayed mostly on beach and avoided ticks and oak. Kind of a trade off. Water available all along for drinking and some dipping. Enjoy :)

Hiked with my dog this weekend south bound. Thank god for tail wind and nexguard. 22mph winds head on would have been devastating. At sea lion gulch we had to use quite overgrown trail (ducking and pushing through bushes) which left pup with more than 100 ticks (I removed and killed 50 myself, nexguard killed and left over 50 dead in my tent. Pretty hellish to be honest). Cooksie then big flat campgrounds were fairly crowded but beautiful. Miles were tough in the sand/scree but not slow for us or the hikers around me- 20min miles. I strongly recommend heeding the advice of every website that told me not bring a dog. Living near beach and taking her on long walks, hikes, and scrambles, I thought her paws would be fine. They were not. She refused to walk the last five miles. Ended up with pack + 45lb fur machine on my back.

beautiful trail, walking on sand and loose rocks makes for a harder miles, look up to the flats for hard ground to walk on. look out for poison oak and ticks

hiking
blowdown
bugs
1 month ago

The trailhead is located on King Peak Rd one mile north of Tolkan Campground. Ample parking at the trailhead. This trail is full of poison oak so be careful, wear gaiters. It’s all Downhill to the beach and all up hill back to the trailhead. Several water sources along the way as you switchback through the draws In spring and early summer. They are likely dry come late summer but when you get to the beach, walk South to Horse Mtn Creek, it should flow year round. 90% of trail is shaded. Three stars on this one because it lacks the spectacular views that other trails in King Range offer, like Spanish Ridge Loop. With this one you don’t really see the ocean until you are practically on the beach.

hiking
no shade
washed out
1 month ago

May 28, 2019. I've been wanting to do this hike for the past 4 years, and I finally completed it today. I found some of the comments on here very helpful so I would like to share some of my insights to help you plan ahead. First, getting in and out. I was coming from Redding, so I came in through the Ferndale - Mattole Road on my way in. I drove on this road about 4 years ago and the section between Ferndale and Capetown has definitely deteriorated since then. Lots of potholes and the occasional cow on the side of the road (not fenced in). There was even a section that was just gravel road with many potholes. I expected Lighthouse Rd to be pretty bad. The first half was OK, but the second half was gravel and dirt with big potholes and deep grooves/dips on the road. There was a small section that was flooded too, but my 2010 Corolla was able to make it. On my way out, I needed to go south so I did not want to backtrack to Ferndale, especially with the sketchy road between Capetown and Ferndale as mentioned above, so I decided to listen to my Garmin GPS and Google GPS, which were both telling me to go through Wilder Ridge Rd toward Garberville. Bad idea! 10 minutes past the town of Honeydew, there was a major detour (due to road wash out) that put me on a sketchy gravel road with the ever present potholes. I also had the Maps.me app (more on this later) which was telling me to go back to Mattole Rd east-bound, which goes through a state park and eventually reaches 101 about 30 minutes faster than the Garberville route. I figured I'd rather spend 30 minutes less on pothole riddled roads, so I made a U turn and went up Mattole Rd toward Weott - Hwy 101. It was the better option, a bit winding, still needed to watch for potholes, but since it's on state park property, the roads were in way better shape. Bonus treat when you get near 101, you pass through very peaceful and gorgeous redwood groves on a very well maintained road. In short, if you don't want to go back to Ferndale, I recommend ignoring Google and staying on Mattole rd east-bound all the way to hwy 101. Campendium's Mattole Beach Campground review has some informative user comments about the Garberville route that will give you a better idea of how treacherous it is. Now the hike... I downloaded some offline trail maps with the Maps.me app (free with ads) and it definitely helps with staying on the trail. It took me 2 hours to get to the lighthouse due to walking on the sand rather than the actual trail, but I used the app on the way back and it only took me 1.5 hours by staying on the trail, which tends to disappear and reappear throughout the hike. Check tide tables since Punta Gorda near the lighthouse is inaccessible at high tide. You do not want to get stuck on the wrong side. The Punta Gorda section also gets the most wind and, on my way back, it was ridiculously windy since we are now hiking against the NW winds. My windbreaker was flapping very fast and really loud, but the panic attack only lasts until you get out of that area, haha (6 - 8 min max). Overall, the allure of a remote and abandoned lighthouse was what brought me here, but it didn't really feel like it since there was a big group of backpackers trying to figure out how to cross Fourmile Creek when I got to that point around 11:30am. There were too many people out there on a Tuesday for me to feel like I got what I was seeking. Getting in and out on the sketchy roads on a Corolla seemed more of an adventure unfortunately. May do it again, but not any time soon unless I get a truck. I would rate this hike as moderate mostly for the annoying sand hiking and unsettling strong winds, although some folks have rated it as strenuous for similar reasons.

hiking
no shade
off trail
1 month ago

Overall, highly recommend this hike but be prepared. Let’s start with getting to the Mattole campground trailhead. You’ll be on windy roads that are often unpaved, have big potholes, or are washed out. We made it in our 2wd sedan but highly recommend 4wd - no question in rain. The hike was sandy like others mentioned, but wear hiking boots and you’ll be ok. Look for the small trail on the raised ground - easier and follows the beach about half of the distance on and off. To reach the lighthouse we had to cross a stream. There is a log you can walk across, but if you don’t have great balance (like me) you’re better off wading across. The lighthouse was awesome. Tons of sleepy sea lions sunning themselves nearby. The return trip was noticeably windier, but all in the hike took about 3 hours with time to take pictures. We only bumped into a handful of other hikers - and this was Memorial Day weekend.

hiking
muddy
off trail
rocky
scramble
washed out
1 month ago

Hiked the trail in two days (May 15 & 16). We parked our car at Shelter Cove and hired a shuttle to drop us off at Mattole Point. A freak rain storm blew in on the morning of our first day on the trail and stayed with us all of Day 1 and most of Day 2. The rain lowered the visibility, made the rocks slippery, and made some streams more difficult to cross. Aside from those difficulties, the trail offered a steady hike through beautiful scenery. As long as you study the tide tables and the weather reports carefully, you will have a great time.

This was a very good, easy hike that left almost directly from the campsite we were at the night before. Although the low clouds blocked many of our views, the fast-moving, rapidly-morphing clouds were one of the coolest parts of the hike. As with almost everything in this park, the trail was overall damp, but I can't imagine it getting too muddy. We went a couple miles further than this route indicates, which took us downhill ~1000 ft that we then had to ascend on the way back. But it was very enjoyable. We could hear sea lions from all the way up at 1700ft!

Backpacked 4/26-4/28. Absolutely beautiful! I would recommend to everyone that is able! Check out my post about our trip! https://lifeisagifttobeenjoyed.wordpress.com/2019/04/29/the-lost-coast-trial/

Basically the entire stretch from Buck Creek to King Peak is a vertical slog. I would recommend camping at Buck Creek, then tackling this portion to Maple Camp with fresh legs. You’ll also enjoy it more if you’re not rushing to make camp by dark (we headlamped the last 3.5 miles of a 14 mile day). Our day 2 took us from Maple Camp to the beach south of Kinsey Creek. There aren’t any established camps south of Kinsey Creek until Big Creek, so if you’re looking for that, head a mile or two north there. You can camp anywhere in King Range, so we made camp just before a portion of private land, before the beach hiking resumes. Day 3 we made it the ~13 miles back to Shelter Cove at sunset. Plenty of water all the way and only one impassible-at-high-tide zone to consider. We did get a later start this day - 11am departed camp. Bear cans required. Bear spray is allowed here, and given the benefits for both the bears and you, I see no reason not to carry it. We were glad to have hydration packs, and they would make it much easier to set up your own camp anywhere. Hiking poles were gold. Tip: instead of hiking all the way into Miller Camp, you can grab water at Bonus Spring, then save yourself a harder climb and .1 mile by backtracking up to the main trail along the same route you took down.

This is such a gorgeous backpacking trip. But you probably knew that if you’re reading this, so I’ll stick to helpful points. We did this 5/3-5/5 and the creek crossings were high. We took the 12:30pm shuttle up to mattole which means that the bulk of travel was done on the second day. Our campsites were Cooskie Creek for the first night and Buck Creek for the second night. In general, I think there’s plenty of great campsites all along the coast and much of the impassable sections were actually very passable at high tide as long as the swell was under 5.5ft or so). If I could do it again I’d probably try to camp at big flat one of the nights because it’s in a beautiful position on the coast. I’d also try to start in the morning the first day and get further than Cooskie creek. We ended up doing 13 miles the second day and because of the creek crossings, the deep sand and boulder hopping it took us about 10 hours including breaks. Beware that Cooskie creek can fill up fast and if you don’t get a cleared out spot then you might have to set up camp closer to the bushes, which are filled with ticks. A couple last points: (1) wear pants! Poison oak is everywhere on the inland trail, (2) don’t worry about always having water on you, fresh water is flowing all along the coast. Have fun, stay dry, please obey the rules (e.g., poop in a hole below the high tide mark!) and feel gratitude for being able to experience such a unique and remote section of CA’s coast.

backpacking
muddy
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

Highly recommend taking the shuttle and doing the full length. We did it in 3 days. Backpacked 4/27-4/29. Be sure to time your hike with the tide schedules, get a map and info from the shuttle person. Our schedule didn’t allow for us to pass the first zone on our first day, however, it is very doable. We ended up doing most of the hiking the second day, from the campground before the first zone, all the way to Miller Flat (before the second zone). Hiked thru the second zone on the last day and it was roughly 8 miles.. the last stretch was tough being in deep sand. Views were absolutely amazing throughout the whole hike. Numerous stream crossings, this time of year allowed us to cross most with our boots on, jumping on stepping stones or crossing logs. There were two streams where we absolutely had to take shoes off, since the water was knee deep. We did not see any trash, so please keep it that way.

Great Hike! Went in the middle of the week to avoid some of the crowds that probably come on the weekends. Saw Grey Whales, Elephan Seals, Harbor Seals and Sea Lions. Nice mix of rocky coast with some good trail above the beach for portions. Then nice black sand in some places and you can walk with no shoes. Nice cool breeze comes off the ocean and keeps it from getting too hot. Probably easiest to just pay for the shuttle as it's a long way between starting and ending points via the road.

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail! It’s a nice climb and a little longer than Alltrails estimates, closer to 5.5 miles. View at the top is worth the trip with great views and on a clear day you can see all the way to Shasta to the northeast. Trail was in good condition, I didn’t have any trouble finding it or staying on it. It followed my downloaded Alltrails map pretty closely. In a couple areas there were downed trees but the paths around are well worn by now. Didn’t see any bears of have trouble with locals but I took precautions to keep my car clear and locked and carry some bear spray. The hike took me about 3 hours with a stop at the top. I’m not a particularly speedy hiker so if you are it would take you less. Went on a Saturday and only saw one other couple. Didn’t meet anyone while driving in and only a couple dirt bikes leaving. It took me a good bit to dive in and I definitely wouldn’t come from Honeydew without 4WD and high clearance, you might be able to get away with a moderate clearance car coming from the south. Road is rough with large ruts and only one lane. Low traffic. Be prepared to tolerate that for a few hours at least. GPS was pretty good navigating me, maps weren’t perfect but close enough to figure it out. I had the reserve map for reference too.

Love it. Saw seals. Remote. So fun.

A very good trail . Beautiful rugged country . It is quite different from most trails . You can be on a sandy beech on part of the leg than hiking a lower leg of the foothills to scaling giant boulders with the waves crashing beside you.. wonderful wildlife from seals to deer . We actually had a little fawn run to us in the foothills only to realize when she got close , oh Crap , that ain’t mom !!! Anyways very beautiful unique trail . We used one of the shuttle services you can get . It is adventure in itself just getting to the trail head. Bring your tide charts for the impassable areas and just time it for low tide and you have plenty of time. . Doing the trail again this year !!!

**Wilderness passes required if you’re going to overnight, can be obtained from recreation.gov, bear canisters required, bear spray required** Well, it took us nearly a year to get back to this one but we’re sure glad we did it. This hike has views upon views. We did the loop clockwise and I highly recommend that direction. We descended the southern spur, then traveled north along Spanish flat, overnighted above Randall Creek overlooking the ocean (so beautiful), and finally climbed out on the Northern ridge. The northern ridge is VERY steep. It’s hard to ascend it but it would be even harder to descend it unless you had really young knees. Tons of wildlife and you’re guaranteed to not see another human with the exception of the people traveling the LCT. Absolutely amazing. We’ve done the LCT and honestly, skip that and just do this loop when the weathers nice.

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