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Punta Gorda Lighthouse Via Lost Cost Trail

MODERATE 32 reviews
#3 of 16 trails in

Punta Gorda Lighthouse Via Lost Cost Trail is a 5.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Petrolia, California that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 5.4 miles Elevation Gain: 816 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

beach

views

hiking
3 days ago

Easy trail, beautiful nature.

no worries! made ot to the trail with no issues. I've seen ppl say the road to the tail is bad. made it with no problem. and this trail is STELLAR!

hiking
no shade
washed out
4 months ago

May 28, 2019. I've been wanting to do this hike for the past 4 years, and I finally completed it today. I found some of the comments on here very helpful so I would like to share some of my insights to help you plan ahead. First, getting in and out. I was coming from Redding, so I came in through the Ferndale - Mattole Road on my way in. I drove on this road about 4 years ago and the section between Ferndale and Capetown has definitely deteriorated since then. Lots of potholes and the occasional cow on the side of the road (not fenced in). There was even a section that was just gravel road with many potholes. I expected Lighthouse Rd to be pretty bad. The first half was OK, but the second half was gravel and dirt with big potholes and deep grooves/dips on the road. There was a small section that was flooded too, but my 2010 Corolla was able to make it. On my way out, I needed to go south so I did not want to backtrack to Ferndale, especially with the sketchy road between Capetown and Ferndale as mentioned above, so I decided to listen to my Garmin GPS and Google GPS, which were both telling me to go through Wilder Ridge Rd toward Garberville. Bad idea! 10 minutes past the town of Honeydew, there was a major detour (due to road wash out) that put me on a sketchy gravel road with the ever present potholes. I also had the Maps.me app (more on this later) which was telling me to go back to Mattole Rd east-bound, which goes through a state park and eventually reaches 101 about 30 minutes faster than the Garberville route. I figured I'd rather spend 30 minutes less on pothole riddled roads, so I made a U turn and went up Mattole Rd toward Weott - Hwy 101. It was the better option, a bit winding, still needed to watch for potholes, but since it's on state park property, the roads were in way better shape. Bonus treat when you get near 101, you pass through very peaceful and gorgeous redwood groves on a very well maintained road. In short, if you don't want to go back to Ferndale, I recommend ignoring Google and staying on Mattole rd east-bound all the way to hwy 101. Campendium's Mattole Beach Campground review has some informative user comments about the Garberville route that will give you a better idea of how treacherous it is. Now the hike... I downloaded some offline trail maps with the Maps.me app (free with ads) and it definitely helps with staying on the trail. It took me 2 hours to get to the lighthouse due to walking on the sand rather than the actual trail, but I used the app on the way back and it only took me 1.5 hours by staying on the trail, which tends to disappear and reappear throughout the hike. Check tide tables since Punta Gorda near the lighthouse is inaccessible at high tide. You do not want to get stuck on the wrong side. The Punta Gorda section also gets the most wind and, on my way back, it was ridiculously windy since we are now hiking against the NW winds. My windbreaker was flapping very fast and really loud, but the panic attack only lasts until you get out of that area, haha (6 - 8 min max). Overall, the allure of a remote and abandoned lighthouse was what brought me here, but it didn't really feel like it since there was a big group of backpackers trying to figure out how to cross Fourmile Creek when I got to that point around 11:30am. There were too many people out there on a Tuesday for me to feel like I got what I was seeking. Getting in and out on the sketchy roads on a Corolla seemed more of an adventure unfortunately. May do it again, but not any time soon unless I get a truck. I would rate this hike as moderate mostly for the annoying sand hiking and unsettling strong winds, although some folks have rated it as strenuous for similar reasons.

hiking
no shade
off trail
4 months ago

Overall, highly recommend this hike but be prepared. Let’s start with getting to the Mattole campground trailhead. You’ll be on windy roads that are often unpaved, have big potholes, or are washed out. We made it in our 2wd sedan but highly recommend 4wd - no question in rain. The hike was sandy like others mentioned, but wear hiking boots and you’ll be ok. Look for the small trail on the raised ground - easier and follows the beach about half of the distance on and off. To reach the lighthouse we had to cross a stream. There is a log you can walk across, but if you don’t have great balance (like me) you’re better off wading across. The lighthouse was awesome. Tons of sleepy sea lions sunning themselves nearby. The return trip was noticeably windier, but all in the hike took about 3 hours with time to take pictures. We only bumped into a handful of other hikers - and this was Memorial Day weekend.

hiking
5 months ago

Love it. Saw seals. Remote. So fun.

hiking
Saturday, October 13, 2018

I did this hike in and out from Mattole in 4.5 hours with my dog. I took a path that stayed above the beach and also diverted up and over to Windy Point. Misty rain on the top with a rainbow bending into the ocean. The end of the hike is the Punta Gorda abandoned light house. Great spot with seals resting on the beach in front of the light house. Had our lunch on the top of the light house watching the seals and the crashing waves.

hiking
Thursday, September 06, 2018

Read reviews and noticed some mentioned an upper trail. Unless they are talking about the road on top of the ridge we never found it. The hike is an easy hike EXCEPT the sand, man there is a lot of sand. It made this hike one of the most difficult hikes I’ve done because of it. Beautiful views, awesome lighthouse. Be sure you have a tide schedule because there is a section you have to go around a point that I can see the tide could come up and you could get stuck trying to get back. Otherwise amazing! Hated the sand though.

hiking
Friday, August 17, 2018

A very nice walk along the beach. Read other reviews about walking in the sand. Do suggest getting legs into shape if you don't walk a lot. Did hill work since I didn't have access to sand. Was good to go. Sights and sounds were wonderful. Seals were very fun to watch once you get to the lighthouse.

hiking
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Beautiful hike along the beach. I highly recommend taking the upper ridge trail - we took the beach for half of the way there and definitely regret it. Although the upper ridge is soft sand in parts, overall much much better trail with just as beautiful views. Lighthouse was stunning with elephant seals sleeping right on the beach!

hiking
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 12, 2018. My wife and I started at around 1:30 and took the high path (last 1/4 of the hike) on the way to the lighthouse. Note that the high trail is less traveled but the trail map w/GPS kept us pretty close to the barely discernible track. We saw many different varieties of flowers on the trip out which was a treat and the ocean views are spectacular.. Recommend hiking boots and poles if taking the high trail. We returned north via the low route... Lots of loose sand and strong headwinds made it a bit of a slog. Trip time ~ 2 hours out and 2 hours back. We are experienced hikers in our 60s and would give this a “hard” rating for a one day out and back (wind, sand, water crossing, and route finding (upper trail portion only).

hiking
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In terms of length, it's a short hike. Going through the sand definitely makes it harder, and the later it gets, the windier it gets. Still, this trail is incredible; hiking in early May there are tons of wild flowers and relatively pleasant weather. The beach varies from sand to pebble, but you can also do about half the trail on the packed dirt part. Some parts are really muddy with small running streams, and I had to take my shoes and socks off to wade across a particularly wide water flow. The lighthouse has a small information sign briefly detailing the history. When I went, there were a ton of sea lions lounging about barely 40ft from the lighthouse. Incredible hike. The drive to the trailhead is windy and rough; some parts of the road were unpaved and the potholes would have stranded a smaller car. Part of the road was flooded, and I wouldn't have known what to do if I hadn't seen a van carve a path before me. On the way back, I ended up taking the freeway past Petrolia and up the coast, which had its own set of amazing views. Can't wait to get back here and do the backpacking trip!

Monday, May 08, 2017

Beautiful hike! My recorded trek was 6.6 miles to and fro. Mattole campground. Highly suggest wearing a windbreaker, there was a section where we had to take off our shoes and socks to cross over some water coming from the mountain. Coming back on the hike you have to hike against very strong winds, with sand/small rocks hitting you head on. Most of the path is sand which makes the trail strenuous. But it sure is beautiful!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

It was such an amazing hike! Beautiful views along the entire hike. The lighthouse is beautiful and we saw seals sunbathing right in front of it. We came back with a ton of ticks so just be careful if you go in the spring.

hiking
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

After stumbling across this article, I am motivated to do this hike again, just for memories' sake. I did this in 1967 with a college hiking club. At that time several of the buildings around the lighthouse were still standing. The one sight that stands out in my memory is the ship traffic (freighters) heading north toward Humboldt Bay.

hiking
Monday, September 21, 2015

I went out to this trail with my boyfriend and our friend for a leisurely Sunday afternoon hike. The sun was out and shining brightly but thanks to the high winds we never got too warm. On the way to the lighthouse we walked mostly along the beach, cutting up to the trail when the wind started flinging sand into our legs. The trail is much easier, but I'd still walk on the beach at least part of the way -- I just love being close to the ocean, being able to check out tide pools, and spot seals (seal lions? I never know the difference) bobbing in the surf. It took us about an hour and a quarter to get to the lighthouse and it did not disappoint. It was absolutely beautiful and we spent half an hour climbing around in it and taking pictures. If you do climb to the top of the lighthouse, watch your head going up the ladder -- it's a very small opening. The way back was slightly rough thanks to the wind. We took the trail for the entire way back but still ended up slogging through loose sand for half the trek. This alone wouldn't have been so bad, but the wind was so high that we couldn't even talk to each other unless we shouted. I've never experienced wind that high and actually found it a little fun. The trip back took us an hour and a half thanks to the wind. This is a really wonderful hike. I don't know how one could possibly take two days to do it. The effort of carrying backpacking supplies over loose sand seems like it would counteract any benefits from taking more than one day on the trail. Wear sunscreen, even if it's windy, and bring plenty of water and you'll be fine. Oh, and a camera; photo opportunities are endless.

hiking
Saturday, January 03, 2015

A very beautiful, challenging hike! My husband and I just did this hike yesterday with our dogs on 1/2/2015. The day was so sunny and beautiful, and no wind until 5pm. We set out at 1 and got to the light house a little after 4 we only took a 10 minute break and maybe 5 1 minute breaks. On the way there we walked the beach which was so so challenging. We are in our early 20's and are also experienced hikers but this has to be the hardest hike we've done due to the sand. Also there was a fairly deep stream we had to wade through due to the season. The beach was full of beautiful shells and invertebrae parts, ones weve never seen before and We are Humboldt locals. the beach combing was unreal. There were so so so many tide pools that we wish we had time to go through! Next time! We spent 20-30 min at the lighthouse. It was magical putting you back in time, you can really feel a different energy there. We took the path through the grasslands back to the beginning of the trail, it was easier but still had a lot of powdery sand you had to walk through. At some points I wanted to crawl But I felt so good after the hike ha! So if your use to sand, plan out the low tide timing, and don't mind crossing some water during the rainy season you can do this in one day. 2 days would be better but we didn't want to be around for an earthquake there, which happens very frequently in that area. There actually was one there the day we went but it didn't occur while we were there thank god We got back to the car at 6. We took a few breaks totaling 15-20 minutes. Dress in layers, wear sunscreen, bring lots of food and water, a flashlight if your coming back at night and you'll most likely want some bear spray or at least a strong pepper spray. Also bring a knife and lighter, toilet paper, and gloves just in case. If it's sunny like the day we went you might want to wear a hat. Your clothes are really just going to depend on the weather which varies from freezing, hot, windy as fuck, no wind at all, bright and sunny, or foggy and misty. You want to be prepared for it all honestly the weather changes fast especially towards the night Good luck!

hiking
Wednesday, September 03, 2014

I agree with another review indicating that this is not an out-and-back, one day hike if you aren't used to walking and hiking through fine sand. The majority of the trail is through exactly that, and it will exhaust you quickly even if you frequently hike on other types of trails. The wind was consistently strong, leaning toward ridiculously strong as we approached the lighthouse. We were with some friends who had done the trail before many times, but they are locals and are used to hiking on sand. We didn't make it to the lighthouse. Pros: Along the ocean all the way out and back A couple of caves along the way into which you can pop for a minute to rest out of the wind Cons: Fine sand trail that winds through large groupings of poison oak in many places Heavy wind No shade (if it happens to be a sunny day, you're in trouble)

camping
Friday, June 17, 2011

I've been hiking out to Punta Gorda Lighthouse since 1976. This is a great trail for beginners and families with younger children, if you plan to campout at the lighthouse and return the next day. I can't imagine going out and back in one day. the reason is this: the trail is the south side of the "farthest point west of the continental USA" making the winds consistantly strong and deceptively dehydrating; and second, the first half is through soft sand making it exhausting on one's ankles. Best plan is to use hydration packs, caring plenty of extra water and use trekking poles. If you get to the lighthouse-or if you get back to the parking lot (on a 1 day trip) and you can't move or don't have energy to fix a meal, you didn't drink enough water. the lighthouse was abandoned after wwII. We ran into an old guy at the beginning of our first trip in "76 who said he had been stationed there during the war as punishment for refusing to reenlist in the Coast Guard. When his tour was up, he told his superiors he would reenlist if they would station him out there again. Their response was "we don't like your kind!"

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

backpacking
10 months ago

hiking
Thursday, September 06, 2018

hiking
Saturday, July 28, 2018

hiking
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hiking
Saturday, May 26, 2018

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