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Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach

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King Range Wilderness

Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach is a 25.3 mile heavily 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.

Length 25.3 mi Elevation gain 1,578 ft Route type Point to Point
Dog friendly Backpacking Camping Hiking Nature trips Walking Bird watching Running Beach Forest River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Over grown Rocky Scramble
Description
Waypoints (9)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

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.

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

This is a one way hike, so bring a car to shuttle. A shuttle exists for $$$ See the links for details. Buy a map and a tide table for the region. Or print the tide table. Some areas are not passible at high tide and you want to plan your hiking times. Or, just hike until you can't and rest there. Bear Canisters are mandatory on this trip. Yes, there are bears. Bring some sandals for stream crossings and high tide point walk arounds. Bring extra socks. You will get wet! The waves catch you now and then as hiking on wet sand is easier than on dry sand so you try to skirt the border. Bring wet weather gear as it can get bitter cold and wet if the wind picks up and blows the fog. Bring a tent, as everything is wet in the morning. Cover everything you don't want soaked.

Directions from Garberville, CA: Take the Garberville exit from US 101. Follow signs to Petrolia. About 0.75-mile before passing through Petrolia and before crossing the river, turn left (west) on Lighthouse Road. Drive 5 miles to the parking area. To hike the trail one-way from the mouth of the Mattole River to Shelter Cove, a shuttle is necessary. Note: Be careful along the long drive from US 101, often on narrow, winding, steep paved roads. The drive is not a recommended from motor homes or vehicles with long trailers.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (337)
Photos (1032)
Recordings (234)
Completed (620)
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dylan mccloskey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 23, 2020
Hiking
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Ashley Macatangay
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
Backpacking

this is an incomplete recording because I forgot to bring a charging cord and my phone died :))

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Liliana M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 13, 2020
Hiking

It was a beautiful hike. This was my first backpacking trip. I've done up to 12 mile hike before but this was more challenging because of the sand, pebbles and boulders. I had trained for this hike by hiking sand dunes. We did the hike north to south. The first impassable strech has a few miles full of boulders. It's hard on the feet but not terrible for a first day. There are several campasites at the end of this section just go up, just don't camp on the beach. The tide was really high.

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Joann Kuhl
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 11, 2020
Hiking

More sand, less rocks.

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Susan Patel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 22, 2020

My husband and I hiked n to s mid September to celebrate my birthday. It was his 1st backpacking trip. I hike a lot in the mountains but this was my first beach hike. It was beautiful! We spent 4 nights on the trail giving us plenty of time to savor the beauty. We saw sea lions, elephant seals, deer, many types of birds and A Lot of very fresh bear tracks! Most memorable were the more then 60 whale blows we counted in the distance at once. This whale “fountain” show lasted for 2 days! Stunning! Be prepared with the tides as it could be very dangerous if you are not prepared to go through the impassable zones. Bear can required ... tracks everywhere! (we didn’t see any bears though). The BLM has plenty of bear cans and they were so helpful with our planning questions. Bring hiking poles and good boots. Take your time to enjoy.. this trail deserves it!

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Sierra Ducatt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 14, 2020
Backpacking

This trail is excellent as an intro to thru hiking or for anyone wanting a change of mountain scenery during their backpacking trips. We went Monday through Wednesday with low tides hitting in the early evening around 1am. Only saw a few groups our second day and had the campsites to ourselves both nights. Saw river otters and lots of bear tracks. The smoke was not a problem but we had masks to sleep in just in case. I encourage all to hike north to south if you have the option. Was about as I expected with difficulty, just hard walking in sand at a slope so make sure you’re ankles are prepared. The all trails gps map helped because the trail goes above the beach a lot. I would recommend this trail to anybody! You’ll have a great time. Woohoo!

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Travis Michael
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 12, 2020
BackpackingBlowdownNo shadeRocky

I underestimated this trail thinking it would be kind of easy with the lack of elevation. I'm used to doing very steep hikes. This hike is brutal on the knees and ankles, very little actual trail, mostly just crumbling sand and rocks. Make sure you download this map because its critical for helping you locate where you are. We tried using the park map but because of wildfires visibility is low and we couldn't see the upcoming headlands. Obviously watch the tides so you don't die. We got on trail right before the ban on camp stoves. When we finished there was a sign saying no fires or stoves in the backcountry. This basically makes this hike impossible unless you day hike or do it without cooking. Amazing trail, worth all the pain.

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Adriana Bravo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 12, 2020
BackpackingRocky

Definitely a challenging back packing hike depending on your athletic level. We had different levels in our group. Appropriate shoes are a must. I wore Hoka trail shoes. My first backpacking hike and I loved and didn’t need hiking sticks. Breath taking views and restful sleep. Completed the hike in three days and two nights. I will definitely do it again but south to north for a different challenge.

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Jesus Alvarado
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Hiking
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Adam Bagnall
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Hiking
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Adam Bagnall
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Hiking
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Adam Bagnall
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Hiking
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Adam Bagnall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
Hiking
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Matt Grahovac
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 4, 2020
Backpacking

Completed in 3 days and 2 nights. After walking along sandy beaches, stony shores, and through fields of wildflowers wedged between the rugged cliffs and the sea I can say this was a one of a kind experience. The views were magnificent, the weather was fantastic (bring sunscreen), and aside from hiking over lots of rocks, it wasn't that difficult. The LCT has everything you could want in a backpacking trip. There are freshwater streams that lead right out to the ocean every few miles, there are no shortage of camping options, and generally even if there are a lot of people out there, I found that my group was often hiking in solitude. Setting up camp, watching the sunset and listening to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore as you fall asleep is something I will never forget. Notes: -Planning this trip was a lot more stressful than actually hiking it. I stressed a lot about the tides, but it was a lot less daunting than I believed. -Hiked north to south to have the winds at our back. -I was able to wear shorts the entire trip and not get one tick or poison oak rash, maybe I was just lucky. -Saw plenty of sea lions along the trail. -The drive between the southern trail head and northern trail head is 2 hours, and one of the more winding routes I have ever been through. If you take 2 vehicles and park one at each end, DO NOT forget your keys to one of the cars...it will make for a very long final day.

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Sonia Pancratz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 3, 2020
Hiking

We did 27 miles, just didn’t record the entire hike via ALLTrails. This was an awesome adventure. We saw bear tracks by the ocean, momma and cub. We saw plenty of deer, elephant seals, starfish, seashells, birds, otters, rattlesnake, whales etc...was a beautiful experience, rough terrain and definitely a work out. I did end up getting poison ivy...as there is so much of it everywhere. Definitely a great trip and worth the time.

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Amy van Loon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 26, 2020
HikingRocky

Beautiful backpacking trip! Exposed, ragged and incredible coastline. Tips: Bring plenty of sunscreen and hats, dogs must have booties - we had two very seasoned backpacking dogs and we would have had to carry them if we didn’t have booties. Make sure you time the hike with the tides as there are stretches each day that are impassable at high tides. We loved this trail, will absolutely go again!

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Kamran Farahmand
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 22, 2020
Backpacking

Loved every minute of it.

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Stephen Rabent
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 20, 2020
Hiking

slow going but beautiful!

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Bri Tiffany
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 20, 2020
Hiking

My partner and I will be hiking the trail starting on September 8th. We’re using bill’s lost coast shuttle and need a couple more people in our shuttle! The shuttle leaves from black sands beach parking lot at 8am and takes you up to mattole where you can begin your hike. Bill was extremely helpful and easy to get ahold of—his office phone is 707-442-1983 and his cell phone is 707-362-0052. Give him a call if you’re trying to start the trail on the 8th!

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Sam Corti
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 20, 2020
Hiking

Bucket list hike! I have never done a beach-thru hike like this and it was a fun, new challenge. The whole hike took much longer than a typical trail for us; hiking on the sand took more effort and traversing stones and wet rocks required much more attention. We took 3 days to complete. Due to the tide levels, we started hiking each day pre-sunrise. DAY 1: Camped at Mattole and started the day at around 3:00am and hiked about 4 miles to Cooksie Creek and camped off the overland trail. We were able to set up camp at around 8:00am, took a nap and spent the rest of the day hanging out by the beach. DAY 2: From Cooksie Creek, we hiked about 13 miles and camped at Miller Flat. Highly recommend this area, there are plenty of spots tucked away near the creek that create wind breaks. This was a popular surf spot and we spent the evening watching surfers and hanging with deer. DAY 3: From Miller Flat, we hiked the remaining 8 ish miles to Blacksands beach. Once again, we started around 5:00am, the last 2-3 miles of the the trail was open beach with a great view of your destination. This was a nice for break for the your feet but still hard on the legs. There were so many creek crossing we didnt carry much water and we took two dogs and they were both happy but TIRED! Once again, a great hike.

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Luke Jarrin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2020
Backpacking

INCREDIBLE.

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bry hum
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 9, 2020
HikingNo shadeRockyScramble
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Clayton Conover
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 3, 2020
Hiking

Just a question. Anyone know if Mattole and/or any other walk-ins are still open?

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Kelly Hurrey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

Looking for permits for mid/late August. Does it seem right that none are available until late November?? Anyone else looking to go during that time who would like to car swap? We are traveling N-S. 321-287-7142 Kelly & Rich

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Steve Daniels
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 30, 2020
BackpackingNo shadeRocky

We are seasoned backpackers who were looking for a different type of experience so we tried the Lost Coast Trail. Our plan was to start at Black Sands Beach, hike out and back over the course of a several days. Disclosure: we did not hike the entire trail. To be honest, the hike was not all that enjoyable. Hiking on sand or rocks is extremely fatiguing as you are searching for a solid surface with every step. You will be constantly walking on a slope with the ocean-side leg having to step lower. The scenery is beautiful and rugged, but it changes ever so slowly. You look at the same things for hours and hours. It started to feel like a death march. We ended up cutting our trip short and trying something else. Were we glad we hiked the Lost Coast Trail? Yes. Was it enjoyable? Not really. Would we ever do it again? NO.

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