Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach

MODERATE 45 reviews
#1 of 7 trails in

Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach is a 24.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Ferndale, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
24.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3500 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

beach

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

A backpacking trip along California's most undeveloped stretch of shoreline. The Lost Coast is an 80 mile stretch of the California coast where the builders of Highway 1 decided to go around because it was too rough. This trip takes you down the Lost Coast starting at Mattole and ending at Black Sands Beach. This is a one way hike, so you need to shuttle a car to the end and then drive to the beginning. If you don't want to bring two cars, a shuttle service will pick you up at Black Sands Beach and shuttle you and your gear to Mattole (about 2 hours driving away) so you can hike back to your car.

backpacking
9 hours ago

This is a beautiful, gorgeous, full of eye candy hike, however, be forewarned- this is NOT an easy hike. There is very little hard surface, easy walking, hiking here- most of it is sand, some of it is boulders from bowling ball size to house size, all the boulder fields are difficult walking with hazardous potential if you fall or step incorrectly. It is real work to walk in sand with 50 pounds on your back. Lovely hike but don't say no one told you and forewarned you....

backpacking
2 days ago

The word epic is overused often in the backpacking realm, but this trail is absolutely epic. We did it at the end of May, perfect weather. Parked the rental on the south end, took the shuttle north. While there arent any sudden rugged elevation changes, the varying terrain makes it more challenging than one might initially think. Wet sand, dry sand, small pebble beaches, boulder fields, you name it.
There is no shortage of fresh water, making it a much lighter trek than usual. I carried less than 1 liter at all times, and just filtered on the go at each fresh water crossing.
The prevailing wind makes it seem cooler then it really is, and makes the sun seem less intense, so don't underestimate sunscreen.
If you're thinking about going, stop thinking and just go. The sunsets will blow your mind.

backpacking
5 days ago

Amazing hike. Beautiful sunsets. I got lulled in by the hard trail intermixed with the sand. The last 5-6 miles are all sand so plan accordingly. We saw an otter carrying a large fish to her pups who scampered away as we came over a ridge, countless deer but didn't see the seals that so many mention.

backpacking
7 days ago

Great view of the coast and the forest along the trail. Get used to walking through sand and rocks though

backpacking
7 days ago

This hike was absolutely gorgeous. I arrived at Shelter Cove around noon and made sure everything was nice and tight on my pack. I met with the shuttle and we left at about 12:30. After a gorgeous 2 hour drive filled with stories about the area, I arrived at the trailhead at 2:30. I immediately set off and made it to the lighthouse pretty quickly. After departing from there, I met two rangers. The first thing out of their mouth was "Can I see your permit?", so I can't stress enough, make sure you have one. I lost track of time for awhile, seeing nobody at all, and just took in the beauty of the place. I set up my tent near Randall Creek and enjoyed some hot food while watching the sun go down. The next morning, I was up and back on the trail right around day break. This time, I took a much slower pace, and even needed to stop for awhile to wait for the tide to go down. My second night was spent at Buck Creek, where I met a wily world traveler who I'll refer to as "Alaska Mike". We sat around the fire and swapped stories late into the night. The next day, the entire hike was sand and rocks, but with fantastic views all the way back to the parking lot at Shelter Cove. I think next time I'll go much slower, as I finished in less than 48 hours. All in all, I'd definitely recommend this hike. It's a beautiful bit of coastline that offers a few days away from cell phone service, smog, and the noise of city life.

11 days ago

Where to start..flew from Texas to SF and drove 5 hours to hike this trail and would do it again. I was going to try describe this beauty of this trek but I cannot. If your thinking about it just do it. You will be glad you did.

backpacking
14 days ago

Incredibly dreamy backpacking trip. Probably one of my all time favorite locations in California. I went during labor day weekend, and there were a lot of people who had the same idea. Sunrises and sunsets are not to be missed here. There is some rampant poison oak near the big crane flat area. As other users have mentioned impassable areas during high tide means that you'll prob do some minor rock climbing to get through the area if you're like me and didn't really plan around tide. :P

backpacking
16 days ago

17 days ago

backpacking
19 days ago

Absolutely loved it!

19 days ago

I would take 4 days as well. the tidal areas can get a little tense. and the ground varies between sand and soccer ball sized rocks. so I would recommend good shoes.They say no camp fires but it seemed everyone had them. doggie shoes and pack are a must.

29 days ago

I recommend that you take at least 4 days to enjoy this hike. There is so much to see, between the tide pools and the surrounding mountains. But the footing can be uneven, so it is easy to walk by without even looking up.

backpacking
1 month ago

If you can stand slogging through miles of sand it is a beautiful trail! Lots of fresh water and campsites.

trail running
1 month ago

Totally awesome hike. Beautiful secluded beaches. Do it in two days, not three if you're a decent hiker.

backpacking
1 month ago

Overwhelmingly beautiful. Long may it last.

backpacking
2 months ago

Great backpacking trail! Hard 2 day, easy 3 day. Lots of fresh water outlets for refilling water bottles. Could not say enough great things about this trail!

2 months ago

amazing views, a tough but rewarding hike. I do it every year.

backpacking
3 months ago

5 months ago

Amazing hike! Definitely plan for at least 3 nights and 4 days. It gets very cold and windy at night, and you will FOR SURE get wet while crossing some creeks or walking along the coast. Make sure you get a map and a tide chart from the station before you start hiking. Plan your hikes and distance around the tides. It took us twice as long to travel on sand, so take that into consideration. We hiked north to south, and the last section has 4 miles of impassible terrain during high tide. Make sure to do this section during a receding/low tide, as well as the last 3 miles before Black Sand Beach. If you need a place to stop and camp there are hidden campgrounds up on the hills about 3/4 of a mile after the 4miles of impassible tide crossing. The impasible tide is real, I got hit and dragged a bit w my dog even though we did it during receding ride. Keep your pup on leash when traveling along the coast or crossing the creeks. Our dogs tried to run after a a couple of beavers making their way to the ocean. The doggy backpack with the handle on top was helpful to lift them and help them cross strong currents. Doggie boots are a MUST. Use them during rocky sections along the coast- give their paws a rest when is just sand or regular trail. Keep all your food and toiletries in a bear canister, there are bears and small rodents that will steal your food and any good smelling belongings. Bring a pair of water moccasins to help you cross through the creeks and keep your walking shoes dry. Also, extra pairs of socks and mold skin to help with blisters. Overall, amazing hike and just enough adrenaline for a fun adventure!