Untouched by major highways and towns, the name is well earned because it can only be accessed by a few back roads leading out of Shelter Cove in the south and Mattole in the north.
A part of the King Range Conservation Area managed by the BLM, the Lost Coast Trail is a 24 mile stretch of coast that leads north from Black Sands Beach to the Mattole River, along the wilderness beach. This is a rugged hike, not a simple walk on the beach, and is one of only a few coastal wilderness hiking experiences in the U.S.. Hikers can view sea lions, tidepools and spectacular spring wildflowers.
Much of the trail is beach hiking with several stretches of 1-2 ft. rounded boulders, so wear sturdy hiking boots. Stream crossings may be impassible during/after heavy winter rains (no bridges). The area near Punta Gorda from Sea Lion Gulch to Randall Creek; and from Miller Flat to Gitchell Creek may be impassible during high tide. Carry a tide table, and when in doubt, hike these stretches during an outgoing tide to avoid being trapped.
Allow at least three days for the entire hike.
MAPS of the area
Other Lost Coast Trails
To obtain a backcountry permit, call the Bureau of Land Management, Arcata Field Office, at 707-825-2300. Or go to the website link above for more information.
Please Remember! Never turn your back on the ocean; large "sleeper" waves can occur at any time, sweeping unsuspecting hikers into the ocean.
Directions: Take the Honeydew exit from Hwy 101 (about 25 miles north of Garberville). Turn left on Bull Creek/Mattole Road and drive 22 miles. At Honeydew, turn west toward Petrolia and drive 13.5 miles. Before crossing the river, turn west on Lighthouse Road and drive five miles to the parking area.
OR: From Ferndale, take Petrolia Road 30 miles to Petrolia. Go 3/4 mile past Petrolia, cross the river and turn west onto Lighthouse Road, continue five miles to parking area.
-Note: be careful along the long drive from Hwy 101, often on narrow, winding, steep paved roads. The drive is not a recommended for motor homes or vehicles with long trailers.
1695 Heindon Road
BLM Arcata Field Office
Arcata, CA 95521
- Individuals, families, or 'non-organized' groups now need self-service backcountry use permits in order to spend one night or more in the King Range backcountry, including the Lost Coast Trail.