Two people stand on a grassy hillside in the King Range Wilderness, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
California Poppies Headwaters Forest Reserve Kayaker enjoying the California Coastal National Monument Headwaters Forest Reserve King Range National Conservation Area
BLM>California>Arcata>Wilderness>King Range Wilderness
Print Page
Arcata Field Office

King Range Wilderness

Two people backpacking along the Lost Coast. Blue sky and steep cliffs.       King Range Wilderness, Lost Coast Trail

The United States Congress designated the King Range Wilderness in 2006 and it now has a total of 42,694 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Location: The King Range National Conservation Area is located about 230 miles north of San Francisco and 60 miles south of Eureka. All roads leading to the King Range are narrow, steep and winding. Allow PLENTY of time between destinations, have a full tank of gas, and be alert to oncoming traffic. All main roads are normally accessible to passenger cars except during heavy winter storms. Primitive roads may be closed seasonally. Call the BLM for current road conditions. Brown directional signs mark all major intersections in the King Range giving the road name and distances to primary recreation sites.

Area Description: From beaches to high peaks commanding outstanding vistas, the King Range Wilderness is the wildest portion of the California coast. Indeed, the King Range is the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the United States outside of Alaska. 

Rare coastal ancient forests of Douglas fir, madrone, and tan oak dominate the watersheds. Endangered species include leafy reedgrass, California brown pelican, steelhead trout, Chinook and Coho salmon, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, northern spotted owl, and Roosevelt elk. The California Coastal Trail traverses the entire length of the area. 

The King Range contains over 80 miles of hiking trails spanning from the beach to the highest peaks. Most of the upland trails are strenuous due to the steep rugged nature of the area.

Getting there: North access: U.S. 101 to the Ferndale exit. Once in Ferndale, follow signs to Petrolia. One mile past Petrolia, turn right on Lighthouse Road; it is 5 more miles to the Mattole Recreation Site. Allow 1 1/2 hours for the 42 mile trip.

Central access: U.S. 101 to South Fork - Honeydew exit. Follow the signs to Honeydew (23 Miles). Turn left in Honeydew to Honeydew Creek Recreation Site and Smith-Etter Road. Allow 1 hour for the 24 mile trip.

South access: U.S. 101 to the Redway/Garberville exit. Follow signs to Shelter Cove/King Range NCA. Allow 45 minutes for the 22 mile trip to Shelter Cove.

Surrounding area:  The Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is located along the southern boundary of the King Range National Conservation Area, this 7,500 acre park is primitive and managed as wilderness. Vehicle access and facilities are limited. Two county roads lead into the park; both are steep, narrow, and unpaved. Campers, recreation vehicles, and trailers are not recommended. During wet weather four-wheel drive may be required. Bring extra food and supplies in case you get stranded.

Non-Federal Lands: Please respect private property. Proper access to public lands must be through public roads. Crossing private lands to access public lands is not permitted unless you first obtain permission from the private landowner. Safe and prudent actions should be followed at all times.

Safety and Current Conditions: Know the sections of the coast that are impassable during high tide and know the current tide levels and forecasted ocean conditions. Also be aware that all sections of the coast can become impassable during any tide level.Poison Oak and ticks, and rattlesnakes may, be encountered along the trails. Ticks carry debilitating Lyme disease. Check your selves and clothing frequently for ticks while hiking in brushy and/or grassy terrain, particularly near the coast.

Be prepared to get yourself out of any situation you put yourself into. Emergency response time in the King Range may be hours at best. Avoid rescue situations through preparations and prevention. Proper clothing, enough food, and a first aid kit are as essential as knowing your group's limitations. When prevention fails, self-rescue may be your next step. Do not rely on cell phone coverage. Water is available year round from coastal streams, but should always be purified before drinking. Water sources are scarce on upland trails such as the King Crest. Carry plenty of water on these trails.

King Range Wilderness


Legal Description

  • BLM 100K Series Map 
    • Cape Mendocino
  • USGS 7.5 Minute Quadrangles
    (Topo Maps) 
    • Petrolia
    • Cooskie Creek
    • Shubrick Peak
    • Honeydew
    • Shelter Cove
    • Briceland
    • Bear Harbor

    King Range NCA webpage

    Arcata Field Office webpage


    Weather and Tides

    Bear Canisters Required

    Permits Required

    Leave No Trace

    Know Before You Go 

    Wilderness List

    National Conservation Lands










    Contact Us

    Aerial photo of the King Range Wilderness and Pacific Ocean.                    Aerial photo of King Range Wilderness

    Bureau of Land Management
    Arcata Field Office
    1695 Heindon Road
    Arcata, CA 95521-4573
    Phone: (707) 825-2300
    Fax: (707) 825-2301
    Office Hours: 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F
    Contact us by Email