Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

Hiking & Visiting the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park


Mileage and Trail Descriptions

These descriptions are from an old map that we have on display at the BLM office.

sinkyone map

This 22.1 mile-long trail runs from Usal Campground at the southern end of the park to Whale Gulch at the northern end. About a mile north of Whale Gulch, the trail enters the King Range National Conservation Area and continues north another 30 miles to the mouth of the Mattole River. The trail provides challenges for both novice and experienced hikers. Allow three days and two nights to travel the trail section within Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.

Usal to Anderson, 5.0 Miles: A steep climb out of Usal sets the pace for this difficult trail section which offers spectacular views.

Anderson to Little Jackass, 2.5 miles: A moderately difficult hike separates these two trail camps. Vies of the ocean can be enjoyed through the old growth redwoods at Northport Gulch.

Little Jackass to Wheeler, 4.5 miles: The most difficult portion of the whole trail is this steep climb over the mountain separating two creeks.

Wheeler to Bear Harbor: 4.3 miles: This tree hour hikes goes from sea level at Wheeler Trail Camp to an 800-foot high ridge and then back down to sea level. This portion of the trail affords some spectacular views and a beautiful redwood grove.

Bear Harbor to Orchard Camp, 0.4 miles: this part of the trail is both pleasant and nearly level. Bear Harbor Cove is a nice location to enjoy a picnic or explore tide pools.

Orchard Camp to Needle Rock, 2.7 miles: This portion of the trail follows a lightly-used park road (now out of use). It makes a nice one and one-half hour hike.

Needle Rock to Whale Gulch, 2.2 miles: This moderate two-hour hike begins at Needle Rock Barn.

Warning: Many stream crossings do not have bridges. Visitors should be prepared to wade fast moving streams. These streams, 6” to 8” deep in the summer, may rise to waist deep during winter storms.

Use Fees


Access to the Sinkyone Trailheads

Vehicle access and facilities are limited. Two  roads lead into the park; both are steep, narrow and unpaved. Campers, recreation vehicles and trailers are not recommended. During wet weather 4-wheel drive may be required. Bring extra food and supplies in case you get stranded.

Usal Beach Campground, at the southern end of the park, is reached by Mendocino County Road 431 (Usal Road) which intersects US HWY 1 at milepost 90.88 (17 miles west of Leggett).

Access to Needle Rock, at the north end of the park is by way of Briceland Road from Redway which becomes Mendocino County Road 435.

Needle Rock Visitor Center

Needle Rock Visitor Center is the only public building along this section of the trail.

The Visitor Center is managed by volunteers and may be open if the volunteers are around that day. During the 1920s, a small settlement and shipping point was established at Needle Rock. A dairy operation stood on the bluffs. There was a store, a hotel, a school and living quarters for the families of the dairymen. The Calvin Cooper Stewart family were the main residents at Needle Rock and today their ranch house serves as Sinkyone State Park’s visitor center. The Center has a large display of cultural history as well as a room that has information on the animals that live in the park. Volunteers live behind the visitor center and keep the Center open as much as possible. If your schedule permits, stop in the Center. It is right next to the Lost Coast trail. There is also potable water in front of the Needle Rock Visitor Center.

Sinkyone State Park Information


The state park does not have any local offices where you can go for information. You may write or call the following:

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
1600 US Hwy 101 #8
Garberville, CA 95542
(707) 986.7711
North Coast Redwoods District
California State Parks
PO Box 2066
Eureka, CA 95503
(707) 445.6547

For a map of California’s Lost Coast visit Amazon : California’s Lost Coast (Wilderness Press Maps)


14 Responses to “Sinkyone Wilderness State Park”

  1. Sarah 05.27.2015 at 10:26 AM #

    We are thinking about doing the 57+ hike from south to north USAL to Mattole with a break around Shelter Cove. Planning to make it a 4-5 day trip and take our time. I would love some recommendations about this. What is the best way to do it? Thank you so much for any insights and tips :) We might also need suggestions on reloading on supplies (food) at Shelter Cove.

  2. jesse 06.16.2015 at 8:38 PM #

    Gonna backpack from Mattole to Usal. I need to leave a shuttle car at Usal but not sure exactly where to park it. Any recommendations?

  3. Kunchok 06.29.2015 at 10:02 AM #

    We are thinking of Hiking the southern part of the lost coast trail in Mid August (08/15/15) for 3-4 days. We are from Minnesota and I have little knowledge about the places there. I saw a shuttle which does service between Usal Beach and Hidden Valley. Does this include both the trail head of southern section? Which trail head is better for car park and take shuttle to other end? I plan to rent a car from airport, and which type of vehicle is good for the unpaved road there?
    Thank You,

    • Lost Coast Ranger 06.30.2015 at 11:35 AM #


      You will need to contact the shuttle drivers directly regarding which routes and trailheads they will operate to/from. If you have the option of getting a vehicle with some clearance you should do it. You don’t have to have a 4wd for the majority of roads this time of year.

  4. Star 08.02.2015 at 9:52 PM #

    I’m a woman and intermediate backpacker. I am considering hiking through this area alone for 4-5 days. I’ve been wanting to do a solo trip for a long time, but my family discourages from doing so. In addition to being concerned about the hazards of the woods, they have for my whole life hammered-home that because I am female there is a constant threat of sexual assault. I’m sick of both these things and don’t want to limit myself to chaperoned adventures when I see my guy friends blissfully soloing hither thither and yon. Do you think the Sinkyone Wilderness is a good place for me to go it alone?

    • Lost Coast Ranger 08.10.2015 at 10:37 AM #

      This is a good question and I believe must be other people with the same concerns.

      I see both points of view as valid. I think one would need to take the necessary precautions for traveling alone as they would in any environment. Letting someone know your route and expected return date, carrying the necessary medical supplies, and researching the area/trail, for examples. Bear spray can be highly effective against bears and people.

      I think with the proper knowledge, experience, preparation, confidence and caution, just about ANY wilderness area would be a good place to go it alone.

      I suggest doing some research for other solo women backpackers and see what kind of advice and experience they have.

  5. Brody 09.09.2015 at 1:01 PM #

    Hey! In a week im taking 3 days and hiking Usal to Needlerock. Is there anything I should know about the trail? Any road closings or trail reports I should know about? How are ticks and poison ivy this time of year(mid Sept)?? Thanks to anyone who answers

  6. jwaltonlpfn 09.16.2015 at 8:44 AM #

    Can dogs be taken anywhere on the Lost Coast?

    • Lost Coast Ranger 09.16.2015 at 4:35 PM #

      Dogs ARE allowed in the King Range NCA mandaged by the Bureau of Land Management (this is what is commonly called the northern section of the Lost coast). Dogs are NOT allowed in the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park (the southern section).

  7. clarameier 06.03.2016 at 1:29 PM #

    Is it possible to backpack the Southern Section of the Lost Coast from North to South starting from Shelter Cove and ending at Usal?

  8. Kim 02.03.2017 at 3:31 PM #

    A friend of mine and I are planning to hike the whole trail – Mattole to Usal – in September. Is there a service or taxi that will transport us from Shelter Cove to the trailhead just outside of town? I’ve read that it can be dangerous to walk along Shelter Cove Road as there are no shoulders and the locals drive a little crazy (locals drive crazy where we live too).

    Also, would you recommend carrying bear spray? We live in Alaska, so we’re accustomed to hiking everywhere with it. Thank you!

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