Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach

MODERATE 263 reviews
#1 of 16 trails in

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.

Distance: 25.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,578 feet 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

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.

hiking
3 days ago

Lucky to have the 25+ miles to ourselves, only saw two individuals over 4 days. Absolutely incredible weather, full moon and sunsets. Watch for rattlers, found a young one when setting up camp. Epic adventure!

Great hike! LOTS of bear tracks and coyote tracks. Saw deer, otters and seals. Lots of poison oak! Perfect weather!!

hiking
11 days ago

Beautiful coast, especially when sea lions appear. On sunny days the water becomes so green.

hiking
30 days ago

Hi! Any extra permits for Tues 9/24-9/26? I've got some days off work and I'd like to do the Mattole to Shelter Cove hike. Email me - lowtide@riseup.net

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Excellent conditions for an epic hike. There were overland options in almost all the pinch points and it wasn’t as hard as I was thinking it was going to be, but I was absolutely tired by the end. I was very glad that we had an extra large bear can to store all our food and stinky stuff. There were lots of bear tracks and we had a few watching us our second night when we camped at Shipman creek. Looking forward to coming back and exploring more of this area of Northern California.

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing experience- due to high low tides we needed to start our hikes early in the morning (3am on Sunday and 4am on Monday) in order to get through impassable zones. Great weather, no bugs, beautiful views. Would recommend downloading map showing your GPS.

hiking
1 month ago

Epic hike. I'm 57 and trained about 4 months. It paid off and made the adventure more enjoyable. A couple of general suggestions: - get the latest tide charts vs annual booklet - the tide charts are not every hour, so you'll need to estimate your start - do not rely on the shuttle driver for tide advice - train your hip flexors and calves specifically (legs, core, butt, back as well) - walking in the beach it helps to follow in someone else's footprints as they've already packed the sand a bit A couple of gear tips for consideration: - 2 pairs of thin merino wool socks = no blisters. - walking stick(s) really help; stream crossings, walking on mid sized rocks/boulders, dry sand - short range walkie-talkies really helped. We were a group of 8 and got spread out. Nice to know where everyone is. - gaiters if you're wearing shorts on the beach. Otherwise long pants were fine. - a toques/ beanie for the wind and when the fog comes in - plenty of streams for water refill. I used a MSR filter others had iodine tablets. Both worked. If using the tablets crystal flavor packets cut the iodine taste - first aid kit - moleskin or duct tape were shared. Advil :-) - I replaced my insoles with Dr Sholes and they helped - no soar heals - Bluetooth speaker. A little music keeps the spirits up. - sun protection : glasses, UV protection, hat. I went long sleeve on day 2 - day 2 I went thru 2.5 liters of water. It's heavy or stop to filter - Gyppo's in Shelter Cove is a great place to eat, drink, and recover after a strenuous hike

hiking
1 month ago

This trip was incredibly beautiful, but tough! It is a flat trail but there are many different types of ground. You’ll go through sand that sinks, packed sand, flat ground, large rocks, pebbles, etc. I had hiking sticks and they were very helpful. Definitely have your permit with you (from the website, not your printed confirmation) and your tide maps! You will get checked and you will need them. Also recommend wearing long pants (I wore yoga pants) year-round because you will go directly through poison oak. I would definitely recommend this trip, it was awesome.

This was the second day of our trip, from Randall creek to miller flat. Very nice hike on bluffs a little beach, and a few hardback trails. Camped and watched the subset! Braving the 3ft tide tomorrow.

Just the first day from Mattole. Tides turned on us so had to rest here instead of Cooskie

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked from Mattole to Black sands beach with a friend. We took 5 days to hike this section. Wich was the perfect amount of time to enjoy all the trail has to offer. We made camp at Cooskie creek the 1st night. Cooskie was one of the best spots on trail. There are several spots to camp if the first few spots you see are taken there are more up the trail on the left side of the creek. 2nd night we camped at Spanish flat just past the creek. On the 3rd night we camped at Miller flat, another nice camp spot on the bank of the creek. The fourth nights camp was at Buck creek. Every camp site was worthy of taking a Zero at. My two favorite were Cooskie creek and Miller flat.

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Just got off trail yesterday – still in awe of the beauty we witnessed on this incredible trek! HIGHLY recommend gators and a solid soled hiking shoes/boots and have never relied on trekking poles more than on this hike. One of the most incredible hikes I’ve ever done - just pure ever changing beauty with each turn. So many different elements and terrains it was wild!!!

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Amazing coastal views.

hiking
1 month ago

Backpacked 4/26-4/28. Absolutely beautiful! I would recommend to everyone that is able! Check out my post about our trip! http://kindly-kaitlin.com/2019/04/29/the-lost-coast-trial/

hiking
2 months ago

Had an amazing trip. Fitness tracker said it was 27.92 miles (10.66 day one, 9.93 day two, 7.33 day three). To start, we spent the night at Mattole campground after taking the 1:30pm shuttle from Shelter Cove. After getting up early and hiking all day we camped at Spanish Flat the first night, right on the beach- epic sunset. Night 2 we pushed to Shipman Creek and found an epic site tucked a ways back in the woods with access to a gorgeous water source (Shipman Creek). Perfectly sheltered from the wind. Finished up day 3 and headed straight to an awesome lil brewery in Shelter Cove for beer and food. While elevation gain is a non issue, the surfaces you hike on are a real challenge. Sand, rocks, pebbles, etc... can be tough on your feet and legs with packs on for so many miles. Found ourselves hoping for more firm bluff trails. The last day, even though it was the shortest distance, was the toughest, just because it was ALL deep sand and rocks. Definitely have a good idea of when the tides are coming in and out. The impassable sections are legit and you wouldn’t want to get caught in one at the wrong time. There’s a section a bit before Shipman Creek on a bluff where there was a bit of a landslide. Don’t try to go up and over- you have to make your way down (even if it means sliding on your butt) to the beach. Random thoughts: Saw a ton of bear prints in the sand Saw a rattle snake cross our path (they like to hide in the driftwood on the bluff trails) 0 mosquito issues Good amount of bees Bring trekking poles and gaiters. The poles are clutch for helping with the surfaces and the gaiters for keeping sand and rocks out of your shoes. Fires aren’t currently allowed (besides at Mattole beach, in the fire rings) Tons of fresh water sources along the way.

backpacking
2 months ago

One of my favorite backpacking trips! Early negative tides made our relaxed, five day trip’s rhythm fantastic, with all hiking in the early morning and breakfast at the new camp. We had a stretch of sunny weather, so the cool air of dawn and shade were welcome. Gorgeous views almost always, lots of shells, sea urchins, elephant seals by the lighthouse, plenty of poison oak (avoidable if you are careful), and bear and coyote prints in the sand. The one day it was foggy during our hike was the day we were going through the second 4-mile impassable section, going from north to south. With limited visibility, we stayed on the well worn bluff trail too long and ended up in a sketchy section above a landslide, and we had to back track to get down to the beach. In the future, I will stay on the beach soon out of Miller Flat, especially if it is very foggy. Other than that one snag, all went very well. Walking in sand, pebbles, and variously sized rocks for miles was very different than trails that you can get a good push off from, but there is hardly any elevation change on this hike. I usually backpack with low hiking shoes, but I was thankful for my sturdy, waterproof boots on this trip. Gaiters, pants, or leggings that securely seal the top of the boots are crucial to keep the rocks and sand out. There were many opportunities to filter water out of creeks. There were good maps freely available at the Mattole information board.

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