The Lost Coast trail is the premier coastal backpacking trail in California and because of its significance has been designated a National Recreation Trail. The experience of hiking where the land meets the sea is unforgettable and strenuous. This is the California Coastal Trail at its finest!
Each year a few hundred people hike the entire 52 mile trail that requires walking on boulders, cobbles, pebbles, sand, dirt, and duff. On the north section you hike on a beach and on the south section you hike 12,000 feet of altitude difference, more than in and out of the Grand Canyon! The north section of the Lost Coast Trail (24 miles) is in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) King Range National Conservation Area.
The south section (28 miles) is in California’s Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.
There is a 4 mile section of road in the Shelter Cove area that separates the north and south sections of the Lost Coast trail. The experienced, fit backpacker can do the entire route in 8-9 days. If you do not have time for the entire trail, you can hike the north section in about 4 days or the south section in about 4 days. This averages hiking 7 miles per day and is plenty of distance for the average backpacker, given the challenges of the terrain.
As you may have already learned, there is very little information on the Lost Coast trail. Some of the existing information may be inaccurate. What you read here is hopefully clear factual information from people who make repeated trips to the area every year.
If you are looking to join a group that hikes the Lost Coast trail, I know of one organization and can highly recommend them. Coastwalk, a non-profit organization, advocates for coastal protection and access via the California Coastal Trail and offers fun and educational walking tours.
Every June, Coastwalk offers 8 day backpack trips that cover the entire Lost Coast trail, from the mouth of the Mattole River to Usal Campground.
For a great map of California’s Lost Coast visit Amazon : California’s Lost Coast (Wilderness Press Maps)