Lost Coast Trail: Bear Harbor to Usal Camp is a 7.8 mile point-to-point trail located near Piercy, California and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
The trail mapped here is actually Jackass Creek (Wheeler) to Usal Camp. Bear Harbor is further North. The trail continues north from Wheeler to Bear Harbor. From Bear Harbor there is a narrow dirt road that continues north and climbs up to "Four Corners" at the very headwaters of the Mattole River.
I would recommend hiking from Needle Point towards Usal Beach, the hike is much easier that direction and there are more camp options and better water sources. If you're a difficulty junkie like me, hike out of Usal towards Anderson Camp. If you have time to kill, follow the creek at Anderson towards the most incredible private beach you'll find on the north coast. This hike is HARD, but if you truly want to enjoy the north coast in solitude, it's absolutely worth it for experienced backpackers. Make sure to get a good map, these trails are barely marked and most of the camps are not.
Sarah wrote a fantastic review - check that out. I ran from Usal Camp to Needle rock in just under five hours (4:53) and other than the difficulty of accessing the trailhead with a Prius was an awesome stint. 19.5 mi and 6k of gain. Beware of poison oak and the hanging ferns that will cut you good if you go through them too quickly. I would probably come back with a friend but not solo, and start way earlier than 4:30 pm to finish in daylight instead of 9:30pm. Also locals warned my ride that it's harvest season in fall so beware of your surroundings. No water so either bring a pack (I had 80oz) or filter, but there were only two sources I would even consider filterable.
This is a super difficult trail that moves quickly between sea level and 1000' foot bluffs over and over again. But the ruggedness of this area is why it is such an unspoiled beauty (Highway 1 couldn't be developed through here; it went around and this area remains isolated). It is astonishingly beautiful at each turn of the path. There are fantastic camps (with funky, unstocked outhouses) at beaches, in canyons, under redwoods along the way. There are hunting Osprey at every beach, herds of elk out on the cliffs, and Sea Lions playing in the surf while you camp nearby. Wildflowers and wild strawberries abounded when we went there in April. The trail along the bluffs can be a bit treacherous as the bluffs are steep and the ground is soft. Often the trail has simply slipped away down the bluff. There are also some very steep sections along canyon walls where there is little footing. However, my family of four came through unscathed and had an amazing time. This is one we all remember forever. There are A LOT of ticks, poison oak, and stinging nettle.
Best hike I've done so far! I'm in very good shape and it was not an easy hike but well worth it. The views range from huge red woods to awesome ocean views . Tons of wild life dear,elk,hawks ,and there are defintly bears I'd suggest bringing a bear canister .very secluded only saw a few groups of people the Intire time . Expect the whether to change at anytime it would be a good idea to bring some lite rain gear. You'll have a great time if you can handle tough terrain