Hiking The Lost Coast Trail

Lost Coast spans 53 miles of the Northern Californian coastline. The stretch of coast remains undeveloped since it was too seismically active to continue building the Pacific Coast Highway 1 which diverts inland to the 101 further south near Rockport/Fort Bragg.

The remoteness of the trail draws hikers from all over the U.S. The northern segment of the trail takes you along pristine black sands beaches and jagged rocky coastlines through mystical fog and some beautiful campsites. While the trail south of Shelter cove takes you through old-growth redwoods.

Sections of the coastline are impassible during high tide, so I would recommend printing or downloading a tide chart along with a trail map since there’s no cell reception within an hours drive of the trail. We used Gaia GPS on the iPhone, the gps tracking proved to be super helpful even without cell reception.

The more popular section to hike is from Mattole Beach to Shelter Cove. This 25 mile section typically takes 2 1/2 to 3 days. It’s a one way hike so go in a group with two cars so you can carpool between trailheads. Otherwise there’s a shuttle between Mattole and Shelter Cove.

Map and shuttle

Packing list

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • sleeping mat
  • bear bin
  • freeze dried meals (some of the freeze dried meals are pretty gross. The pastas aren’t too bad)
  • sunscreen (it does get warm up there)
  • water filter or iodine tablets
  • Camelback or Nalgene (I had a 2L Camelback that I ended up drinking through every day. Creeks can be far-between so it’s good to be able to carry a lot of water without taking up too much space)

Optional

  • gaiters (for the sand. I didn’t end up bringing any and didn’t mind the sand)
  • hiking/trail running shoes. (I just wore my Nike Freeruns and did fine. Although the ankle support would have been nice hiking on the rock/pebble beaches)

 

Punta Gorda, the tiniest lighthouse. Our first landmark hiking from Mattole Beach down the Lost Coast trail. One of the most remote lighthouses in the world.

Punta Gorda, the tiniest lighthouse. Our first landmark hiking from Mattole Beach down the Lost Coast trail. One of the most remote lighthouses in the world.

First nights campsite at Coosksie creek. You can somewhat make out the dead whale in the bottom left corner of the creek.

First nights campsite at Coosksie creek. You can somewhat make out the dead whale in the bottom left corner of the creek.

Swimming hole at Coosksie Creek

Swimming hole at Coosksie Creek

Second nights campsite at Miller Flat/Rattle Snake Creek. We setup camp and watched the surfers and paddle boarders take advantage of the huge swells that make Lost Coast famous.