Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach

MODERATE 74 reviews
#1 of 8 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.

9 days ago

backpacking
10 days 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!

backpacking
13 days ago

As usual, the mileage and trail on this site is not accurate (unless you fly in a straight line). As other have pointed out - some waypoints are wrong. If you zoom into the map - you'll also notice some of the path is not the actual trail.

Did this after Labour day - it was still busy. The only time when we were truly alone was camping near Cooskie Creek - as it was within the tidal zone.

Gitchell was overflowing - as that is a popular site for night before exiting.

Between Randall and Big Flat - you are hiking mostly on flat/packed trail away from the coast (limited views), so it is easy to do these in a few hours. (We did 16 miles on the second day)

Dog owners: Dog booties will not 'magically' make your dog a hiker. I bought my dog and we met 2 others on the trail - none had booties and all did fine. BUT they are lean/athletic breeds (Husky, German Shepherd and some hunting dog) and all had previous hiking experience and plenty of endurance.

The popularity of this trail also meant some inconsiderate hikers. Some areas had toilet paper everywhere (yuck!). There was also a lot of fresh shallow buried food and on our second night, a couple started a campfire (there was a no fire restriction).

Overall, it was a moderate-easy hike (almost no elevation gain). Next time, to avoid the crowds, I would probably go off-season.

backpacking
15 days ago

backpacking
16 days ago

22 days ago

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.

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

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?

backpacking
1 month ago

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
1 month 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.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

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

backpacking
1 month ago

Can't wait to do it again!

backpacking
1 month ago

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!

backpacking
2 months ago

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.

backpacking
2 months ago

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!

2 months ago

Hi, I'am a kiteboarder looking to set up a kiteboard trip down the Lost Coast. I need some help with some wind readings down the trail from Mattole beach to Shelter Cove. I would gladly pay someone hiking the trail this summer to collect the data for me by a smartphone wind sensor app. I would also be interested in a written description of the wind from a hike you did already, specifically during the summer months.
Give me an email if interested.

Thanks
George Ward
PASA Kiteboarding Instructor
Air Pirates
Astoria, OR
undertow2u@gmail.com