DISTANCE
4.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1912 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
4 months 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!