Lost Coast Trail
768 Shelter Cove Road King Range Project Office Whitethorn, CA 95589
The King Range National Conservation Area (NCA) is located about 230 miles north of San Francisco and 60 miles south of Eureka. All roads leading to the King Range NCA 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. Directional signs mark all major intersections in the King Range NCA giving the road name and distances to primary recreation sites.
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. Turn right to Mattole Beach and Trailhead. Allow 45 minutes for the 18.5 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.
TRAVEL TIMES BETWEEN SELECTED DESTINATIONS
Black Sands Beach to:
• Mattole Recreation Site, 2 hours.
• Honeydew, 1 hour 15 minutes.
• A.W. Way Park, 8 miles, 20 minutes.
• Mattole Recreation Site, 18.5 miles, 45 minutes.
Smith-Etter Rd./Wilder Ridge Rd. Intersection (Four -Wheel Drive Recommended on this road) to:
• North Slide Peak Trailhead, 7.5 miles, 1 hour.
• Kinsey Ridge Trailhead, 10 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes.
• Spanish Ridge Trailhead, 12.3 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes.
King Peak Rd./Shelter Cove Rd. Intersection to:
• Tolkan Campground, 3.5 miles, 15 minutes.
• Horse Mountain Campground, 6.5 miles, 25 minutes.
• Lightning Trailhead, 16 miles, 1 hour.
• Saddle Mountain Trailhead, 10.5 miles, 45 minutes.
• Horse Mountain Creek Trailhead, 4.5 miles, 20 minutes.
Shelter Cove Rd./Chemise Mountain Rd. Intersection to:
• Hidden Valley Trailhead, 1/4 mile, 1 minute.
• Wailaki/Nadelos Campgrounds, 1/2 mile, 5 minutes.
• Sinkyone State Park (Needle Rock), 10 miles, 45 minutes.
No user fee
Lost Coast Trail
Lost Coast Trail - North (Mattole - Black Sands Beach). 24.6 miles, mostly level.
The Lost Coast Trail offers one of the few coastal wilderness hiking experiences in the United States. Hikers will be treated to exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities such as sea lions, elephant seals, river otters, eagles, bobcats, deer and more. Tidepools, teaming with life, line the coast. In spring spectacular arrays of wildflowers cover the hillsides and bluffs.
Overnight camping along the Lost Coast Trail requires a Backcountry Permit. Permits can be obtained through Recreation.gov, on the King Range Wilderness Permits (Lost Coast) page. No walkup permits are available. Before planning your visit or booking a permit, please visit the King Range National Conservation Area page for information such as maps, tide safety, condition reports, and regulations
Allow at least three days for the entire hike. Much of the trail is beach hiking with several stretches of 1-2 ft. rounded boulders. Wear sturdy hiking boots. Water sources are plentiful along the beach. Stream crossings may be impassable 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 impassable during high tide. Carry a tide table and hike these stretches during an outgoing tide of three feet or less to avoid being trapped. Always be aware of the ocean. Large sets of waves can occur at any time, sweeping unsuspecting hikers into the ocean. Large waves and/or high winds will amplify the effects of tides, causing areas normally passable at a particular tide to become impassable. Several privately owned cabins exist along the Lost Coast and are not for public use; BLM does not maintain any facilities along this trail - please respect private property rights. NO CAMPING AT BLACK SANDS BEACH TRAILHEAD. Camping is allowed north of Telegraph Creek.
Lost Coast Trail - South (Hidden Valley - Needle Rock in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park). 9 miles, 875 ft. climb, 2600 ft. descent.
Mountain meadows, old-growth forests and ridgetop vistas through coastal chaparral offer hikers an interesting contrast to the northern leg of the Lost Coast Trail. Hikers can also continue for 19 more miles through redwood groves and fern clad glens of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. NOTE: The State Park has different regulations regarding trail use and camping (e.g. no pets or mountain bikes; camping is only allowed in designated areas). Contact State Parks for information on obtaining a permit, or for roads and trails conditions.