Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach

MODERATE 59 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.

24.9 miles
3500 feet
Point to Point

dog friendly





nature trips

trail running





wild flowers


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.

4 minutes 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

23 hours ago

Can't wait to do it again!

1 day 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!

4 days 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.

9 days 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!

16 days 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.

George Ward
PASA Kiteboarding Instructor
Air Pirates
Astoria, OR

17 days ago

18 days ago

Absolutely loved the combination of massive hills on one side of you and a endless ocean on the other while walking on the trail. Doesn't feel fantastic walking in the sand for many miles, but eventually you get use to it and the hike is totally worth it. Would suggest to everyone.

19 days ago

Gorgeous hike! Definitely will not leave you wanting for epic and diverse views.

A few things to note/tips:
-plan ahead and book a shuttle from black sands parking lot to get you to the mattole trailhead. park at black sands. $80/pp for the shuttle and it takes 2 hours to get you to the trailhead.
-there are basically no trail markers for the Lost coast trail. So bring a map and watch for other hiker's and well worn trails.
-terrain: 50% sand, 30% actual dirt trails, 20% boulders/rocks.
the few dirt trails are such a relief in between sandy beaches. These trails often aren't marked unfortunately, so they are easy to miss.
-bring a tide chart as there are two 4 miles stretches that are unpassable at high tide.
-there is ample water right now.(July 2017) multiple creeks /rivers besides what's shown on the map. expect a water source every 2 miles so you shouldn't have to carry too much.

I carried a 30pound pack, and am a semi experienced backpacker (have been on 5 trips to date) and found it a moderate hike. Lack of serious elevation changes made it seem easier. The giant rock/Boulder fields were most difficult just because it required full attention to every step (no one wants a rolled ankle!).

19 days ago

Great hike with amazing views and wildlife... Loved the experience of being "trapped" along a creek by the tide with nobody else there except the folks you hiked in with!

Went in late June spending 3 nights, would have spent 4 with a short early out the next morning but couldn't find any good camping for larger groups (there were 8 of us) in the last 5 miles so we settled for pizza and beer in Shelter Cove.

What everyone says about the terrain is true, some parts are quite challenging but just stick to a comfortable pace and plan around the tides accordingly and you'll be fine. Our group ranged from 25 to 70 in varying physical conditions and we all emerged essentially unscathed.

Highly recommended!!

19 days ago

26 days ago

27 days ago

28 days ago

Words can't describe this stretch of California. In the future I may try to come back and give it my best shot but for now I'm just going to day dream about every day until the words come to me. Put this trail high up on your bucket list.

1 month 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....

1 month ago

1 month 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.

1 month 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.

1 month ago

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

1 month 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.