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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.

hiking
6 days ago

Beautiful and remote! This is the closest trail on AllTrails that matches what we did (and the maps on here don't show the trails accurately, so make sure to use the official BLM maps, or something similar. For example, those found here: https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/california/king-range-national-conservation-area).

We spent a couple nights here in Feb 2017. Took just about the hardest way possible for a day at the beach. Started in the late afternoon from the Lightning Trailhead and spent the night at Maple Camp. Next morning, hiked to King Peak via the King Crest Trail, then headed south and set up our tent at Bear Hollow. Afterward, we hiked to the beach via the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail, then hiked back up the ~2500 feet to Bear Hollow for the night. Headed out the next morning.

Many of the trails are very steep and arduous (lots of elevation gain and loss, but many switchbacks). Overall, trails are in good condition. Some areas where the trails run along steep slopes have eroded and there's a bit of sketchy side-hilling. Due to the steep topography, the two camping areas we used had very limited space. Just enough for a few tents. No problem for us because no one else was camped at either spot.

The views were spectacular, there are many beautiful little creeks flowing in winter, and the beach was great. After a tough hike, during which we only saw one other person, we were surprised to see a house on an inholding of private land at the beach (must be accessed only by boat or aircraft).

Some sections of the trail along Big Flat Creek were hard to find due to erosion from last year's big winter. However, we figured out that the trail crosses the creek several times while making its way to the ocean. At most crossings, there were large cairns on the shoreline to indicate crossing points.

The roads to get to the trailhead were in decent shape (and would be no problem at all for a 4x4 vehicle with some clearance). We took a little Honda Fit and *barely* made it though in a few areas due to road erosion. However, we noticed that the road was in the process of being graded on King Peak Rd closer to Shelter Cove.

Overall, a great experience. It was hugely helpful to have loaded geo referenced PDF maps onto my phone prior to the trip (I recommend Avenza or Gaia GPS). Those maps helped guide us when traditional navigation apps failed. With good map reading skills or good digital maps, a vehicle with some clearance, and patience, no problem. Expect road erosion and a long, slow drive to get to some of the trailheads once you're off the pavement!

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.

Amazing black sand beach. Sublime.

best california beach experience out there. bring extra socks!

Awesome MTB ride in the forest, flowy fun!

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.

hiking
4 months ago

Great backpacking route. My girlfriend and myself did it early Sept 2017. A couple things to consider before going: 1) the road to get to mattole from Redway is terrible- have a vehicle with decent ground clearance. 2) If you are someone who doesn't enjoy a good physical challenge, this might not be your trail. The hiking at an angle along the sand takes a tole on your hips, and ankles. 3) the first section of impassible at high tide there aren't really any areas to escape if you mistimed the tide, the second section there are a couple areas where you can escape. 4) Very little protection from the sun/wind, so be prepared with sunscreen and wind protective gear if it's windy. 5) If you shuttle, consider leaving your car at the bottom, and shuttling to Mattole.
I wish we would have done this! Overall a gorgeous hike. Recommend it to any outdoor enthusiast!

Best 3 days of my life! Don't forget your tide guide, keep hydrated. Many terrains, creek crossings, hillsides, fields and whole lot of beach.

Went at the end of July. I am ready to go again! We pushed through in 3 days, but I'd love to do a lot of side hikes and take 5 days to enjoy it even more. Saw tons of seals, a bear, and plenty of starfish!
We clocked it at 34 miles and we did not stray far from the coastline, anyone else experience that?

The Lost Coast is definitely my favorite backpacking trip I have done so far. My Dad and I hiked this in 3 days/2 nights. We hiked 12 miles on day 1, 8 miles on day 2, and 4 miles on day 3. I really recommend doing as many miles as you can on the first day to have an easy hike out the last day because it is all sand over the last stretch. The best part of the trip was getting the chance to see a bear! We started day 3 around 7AM and about an hour in, we hear movement through the bushes on the ridge to our left and turns out it was a bear cub! Bears are really out there so be cautious of your food and scented items. If you are thinking about this hike, go do it! You will not regret hiking the Lost Coast.

backpacking
6 months ago

Amazing hike! Definitely need a tide chart for this one, but if you take the shuttle, you can ask them ahead of time for one. Our driver adjusted the tide chart the morning of the hike. Each day was adjusted and it definitely came in handy. We had a slow Day 1 on the trail and got stuck at the overland pass at the start of the first impassable zone. Instead of hiking back and setting up camp for the night, we waited until the tide was receding to start a sunset/night hike through the tide zone and another 2 to the Spanish Flats. It was mildly dangerous, but we had headlamps and were able to hike under the Milky Way. Definitely my favorite part of the trip.

Only took the trail to the lighthouse. Hard to know exactly where trail is...lots of walking on sand which is a bit disorienting and takes energy and time. The lighthouse is viewable from the spot marked on the map, but it was at least another mile before we reached it. I would recommend trying it out, but be prepared for a lot of walking on sand (wear proper shoes) and a longer walk to the lighthouse than was shown on the app.

I've hiked this trail several times it has been different each time due to tides winds and rains. You never know what's going to happen. A true adventure trail

Can't wait to do it again!

My first backpacking trip! What a beautifully challenging and rewarding journey!

Awesome stuff..

I keep writing an actual review, but it's not saving here. sorry folks!

The Lost Coast is interesting. It has a mix of terrain unlike any other place I have backpacked. You go from brown fine sand to small gravel to larger gravel back to fine sand and then walking through a field to then go boulder hopping and then finish with fine black sand. The great part about it is that when you are getting sick of walking on one type of terrain, it will change in another mile. If you bring your dog please, please, please bring booties.
You do need to watch out for rattlesnakes, scorpions and poison oak when settling down for the night. We encountered each of these.
We started off camping in Mattole Friday night and set off early Saturday morning and hiked 12 miles the first day, about 10 the second day and 3 the last day. If you camp at Mattole bring a jug of water to start out your morning, the spigots there do not work but the first stream is about 2 miles away so you can make it.
I do recommend getting an official map of the area, it totally helps you navigate if you do not take a shuttle and decide to leave one car at Mattole and the other at Black Sands.

This hike is amazing! We started at 6PM On a Thursday and were back at our car at 1PM on Saturday. We planned to take longer but didn't want to stop hiking at noon on day 2. The hike is stunning and we saw so many animals.
The sand and rocks however are NO JOKE! The last 7ish miles are ALL on the beach!! So beautiful but damn that makes it hard. Timing the mileage with the tide, however, ended up being super easy. Definitely would recommend this Trail!

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