The Lost Coast trail is in the King Range National Conservation Area. It is rugged and remote – there are no roads between the two trailheads.

Do you enjoy beautiful coastal scenery? Do you like backpacking? If you answered yes! then California’s Lost Coast trail is one for your list. See how well I sold that?

Trip Information

  • Trip length: 24.6 miles one way
  • Time to hike: 3-4 days
  • Trailheads: Shelter Cove (south end) or Mattole Beach (north end)
  • Reservations: Not needed. A walk-in permit is required for all overnight campers.
  • Bear canisters: Required
  • Dogs Allowed: yes.

Dan and I had never backpacked on a beach so this was a treat. We were going to visit our friends in San Francisco for a long weekend and tacked on a few extra days for the Lost Coast.

We flew into San Francisco International Airport and picked up our rental car through Budget. If you’re a Costco Member check out their travel website for some deals on rental cars.

Costco rental car
Rental car enjoying the views.

The next six hours involved some of the prettiest road-scenery I’ve every seen on the spectacular Route 1. Wow that alone was amazing.

California Route 1 drive
Views from the drive up Route 1.
California Route 1 coastal drive

Dan and I decided to backpack 15 miles out and then back to save some money, instead of doing the entire point-to-point. The four hour shuttle ride is ~$280 for 2 people.

Lost Coast Map
Lost Coast Trail map.

Bear canisters are required. Also, make sure you have the tide info with you because some sections are impassable at high tide. They had the tide chart posted at Shelter Cove:

Lost Coast Tide chart
Tide chart – a good idea to take a picture!

Since we arrived at 7 PM, we hiked until we found a good campsite.

Lost Coast camping
The tent posing for a sunset pic.

And watched the sunset. Hooray for ocean waves as sleeping white noise!

Lost Coast camping

We woke up to a beautiful day. We made breakfast while watching the mist burn off of the hills.

Lost Coast camping
Good morning.

After packing up we started hiking and found this very large tree for Dan to sit on.

Lost Coast hiking
Giant tree throne.

And then we found this flat tree for me to sit on. It is less impressive.

Lost Coast hike
Minion throne.

We hiked along the beach. It looked like this:

Lost Coast hiking
It probably took me 10 minutes to hike this far. IT TAKES SO MUCH LONGER ON LOOSE ROCKS.

The first third of the trail alternated between black sand beach and rocks. We couldn’t decide which was easier to hike. Maybe the rocks? There’s nothing like hiking in sand. My legs were very sore after this trip.

Lost Coast hiking
The weather this day was excellent.

We hiked until we reached “Spanish Ridge” (approximately 15 miles out) and then started making our way back.

Lost Coast hiking
Turn around zone.

We watched another romantic sunset.

Lost Coast camping
Lost coast sunset #2

The next morning I spent some time watching the waves and digging my feet in the sand.

Lost Coast camping
I don’t ever want to leave.

We continued hiking back toward Shelter Cove. I turned around to take this picture:

Lost Coast hiking
AH it was so dang pretty.

After hiking most of the way back we arrived at this super secret spot just in time to set up our camp…before 6 other groups set up around us. BUT I THOUGHT THIS WAS OUR WILDERNESS??

Lost Coast camping
A little camping nook.

This is also the night I burned a hole in my beloved down jacket that I wear everywhere. The fire popped and I looked down but didn’t see anything suspicious. Later when I stood up I saw white fluff coming out of a hole the size of a dime. It was devastating. PSA: fires are really dangerous.

Look, sunset number three. Are you still here?

Lost Coast camping
Lost coast sunset #3

Our last day involved me being excited that we were back in the sand-zone, then proceeding to backpack barefoot into the waves. It was an excellent idea for <15 minutes.

Lost Coast hiking
The sand hurts my feet after 0.25 miles.

I loved this trip. The end.


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