The Lost Coast Trail

King Range

Humboldt, California

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The Lost Coast Trail
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  • The Lost Coast Trailhead.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Starting out in the heavy fog.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Heavy fog on the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • There are a few private cabins along the route.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • You will be walking within 10 feet of some rather nonchalant seals - The Lost Coast Trail
  • Seals along the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Punta Gorda Lighthouse.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Poppies.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The trail skirts a cliff on the first day.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The Lost Coast Trail- The Lost Coast Trail
  • An isolated beach along the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Trailmarker along the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Hiking along a beach on the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The first of many river crossings. Most you can cross without taking boots off, if you can keep your balance.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Sandy beach turning into rocky beach on the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • First campsite. Always try to camp in sites that have already been impacted.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Poppies along the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Poppies along the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • A lone boat sits in a sunburst just before sunset.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The second day is a mix of trail and beach hiking.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Lupine is everywhere!- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Another river crossing on the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Lupine and coast.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The Lost Coast Trail mascot.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Taking a rest amidst the poppies on the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Some stream crossings may be simplified with sandals or watershoes.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Using the plastic bag as a barrier for the wet boots.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The sky clearing up.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The tip of land in the distance is the finishing point at Shelter Cove.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Beach hiking from here on out.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • A seagull in the crashing surf along the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • One of the tidal barriers. Do not attempt to pass this spot at high tide.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The weather can change quickly, so always be prepared for precipitation.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The second campsite of the trip at Buck Creek.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The sunset at Buck Creek on the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The sunset at Buck Creek on the Lost Coast Trail.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Beach tracks on the final day.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • - The Lost Coast Trail
  • Very heavy sand for the last 3 miles.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • The return to Shelter Cove and Black Sand Beach.- The Lost Coast Trail
  • Bring a bear canister. They can be rented from the King Range National Conservation Area Project Office.- The Lost Coast Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful landscape. Only backpackers. Wildflowers. Plenty of water.
Cons: 
Long shuttle ride. Hard on legs and feet. Many river crossings.
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Region:
Humboldt, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,865.00 ft (568.45 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
24.60 mi (39.59 km)
Trail type: 
Shuttle
Trailhead Elevation: 
10.00 ft (3.05 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

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The Lost Coast Trail is a wild and unique backpacking adventure along one of the most rugged sections of the Northern California Coast. The King Range area is nearly  untouched by civilization, with only a few small towns along the two-hour shuttle from Shelter Cove to the Mattole Beach trailhead to the north. The trail provides incredible views, a variety of wildlife and flora, and a glimpse of some rarely seen California coastal terrain. Keep in mind that portions of this trip take a great deal of effort; the majority of the 25-mile, 3-day trip takes place on sandy beaches, which can be exhausting for legs and feet.

For the north to south route, you will need to take a shuttle either at the beginning or end of your trip. Shuttling at the beginning allows you to walk straight back to your car (at Black Sands Beach in Shelter Cove). The shuttle will cost approximately $200 (for two people), and it will drop you off at the Mattole Beach Trailhead where you will begin your journey. Expect foggy mornings and possible rain any time of the year. You will walk beside sunning seals, sea birds and sea otters. Be sure to check out the century old Punta Gorda Lighthouse, which is a great spot to stop for lunch on your first day out.

The first day's hike is split between beaches and the trail that winds along the coastal cliff. You can camp anywhere, but do your best to stay in sites that already have camping impact.

The second day is mostly trail hiking with occasional river crossings. Try to keep your boots from getting wet! Sandals or river shoes can make these crossings less troublesome.

The third day brings you back to the beach. You will hike through deep sand that is slow going. It can be easy to miss the trailhead at Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove, so keep a vigilant eye on your way out. Your shuttle driver will tell you what to look for.

Permits are required for this hike and any other overnight stay in the Kings Range Wilderness, and the numbers of hikers allowed to stay overnight vary between seasons. For more information and to obtain a permit, head to Recreation.gov.

NOTE: Carry a tidal chart with you, and always be aware of the tides and your location. There are two tidal zones along the trek that are impassible at high tide. You do not want to get stuck in a small cove with a rising tide. There are many campsites to choose from, so don't push yourself into a bad spot. Also, note that you will need a bear canister for this trip.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

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(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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