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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
A few Lost Coast area questions. on 04/25/2011 09:04:51 MDT Print View

Does anyone know the approximate mileage by road between Usal Camp (Southern end, Sinkyone Wilderness) and the northern terminus of the Lost Coast? Instead of a shuttle, I'm considering the possibility of leaving my car at the north end and biking back to the southern end...
Is there a bike-friendly route between the two?


David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/25/2011 12:17:44 MDT Print View

Hello Craig - What are your thoughts? Are you trying to work your bike into the shuttle or just bike the route?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: "A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/25/2011 12:29:27 MDT Print View

I'm thinking about the idea of driving to the north end, leaving the car, cycling via roads to the south end of Sinkyone (Usal Camp), leaving the bike, and hiking north via the trail back to my car.

If there's no decent bike route, I'll just yo-yo the whole thing.

I really wasn't sure what the road system is like up there; obviously people bike tour the entire coast, but I didn't know if the cycling roads go considerably inland, making it difficult/out of the way to connect to Lost Coast hiking. Can you bike the 101 in that area? I'm not shy about bike mileage and am OK with 100+ mile rides..

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: "A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/25/2011 15:48:00 MDT Print View

Sure people ride 101. Never heard it being done the way you suggest. I'd call and talk to the rangers at the BLM office by Whitethorn and the ranger at Sinkyone to get some idea on travel time. I know from my house to Mattole is 45 miles yet takes and hour and a half to drive it. Briceland-Thorn Road and Usal Road have some serious ups and downs and are pretty narrow in places. I've never seen a bicycle on the roads going to Shelter Cove. The map I sent you last year should show mileages to 101 from your planned starting and stopping points. Wild west at Usal. No guarantee that your unattended bike would be there when you return for it. It is outdoor growing season. Feel free to PM if you need more info or are interested in a shuttle.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/25/2011 18:40:13 MDT Print View

Interesting idea Craig.

I looked at my maps. If you don't have maps, you need the King's Range BLM map and the Wilderness Press Sinkyone Wilderness State Park map. The BLM map only has the BLM (Northern) part of the trail, basically Matolle to Shelter Cove. The Wilderness Press map has both parts, but the map is pretty crummy, more conceptual than anything else.

There is a road that gets you from Matolle to Usal Beach (Southern terminus). I think it's the same road we drove on last year, twice. I didn't look at it with biking in mind, but it seems like it was rideable. Probably best with a cross bike with a good granny gear.

There are youtube videos of people traveling the road in their 4WD vehicles.

Anyhow, interesting idea. I agree with Ken about stashing the bike. But I bet you could hide it and lock it.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: "A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/25/2011 20:33:40 MDT Print View

Thanks so far guys.
I still do have the map you sent me Ken, in addition to another. Having never been there, I can't really envision what type of ride it is or how long it would take me.

But from what I'm looking at (biking South):
*Leave the car somewhere at Mattole (Any suggestions?) then ride Lighthouse Road to Mattole Road to Honeydew.
*From Honeydew it's Wilder Ridge Road to Briceland-Thorn Road to Thorn Junction.
*From Thorn Junction it looks like I could take Shelter Cove Road to Chemise Mtn. Road, which then apparently turns into Usal Road (unpaved) which will get me to Usal Camp and the southern terminus of the hike.

One map says Usal Road is unpaved and impassable in winter, but that map is cut off just below Four Corners. My other map simply shows it as a road. I'm guessing it's all unpaved.

So anyway, it looks like I'd ride an MTB if I decided to do this; it's just hard to get a feel for how much elevation loss gain I'd be doing.

As for a safe place to lock a bike for a few days, that's another reason why I'm asking.
It looks like Usal is far less developed; meaning either a better place to stash and lock, or a better place for someone to hack my bike apart unnoticed.

Any chance I'd be better off locking it at the Mattole side and reversing the direction my trip?

If all of this seems like needless craziness, keep in mind I'm simply trying to do more trips in which I'm using more human power and relying less on car shuttles. I like the idea of skipping shuttles and being self-sufficient, mixing cycling with backpacking...but where to safely leave the bike is always an issue.

If incorporating the cycling doesn't pan out, I'll look into a shuttle or just yo-yo the trail. A fast-paced yo-yo doesn't sound bad as there seem to be a lot of cool places to sleep out there and it would give me more time to see them.

Thanks again for any input folks.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: "A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/25/2011 23:45:21 MDT Print View

it's been a couple of years since I have been at the lost coast and I didn't go thinking about biking. My memory is that there wouldn't be a good path if you were road biking, but mountain biking could certainly work if you were up to an adventure. some of the roads do get pretty messed up over the winter.

Personally, I think that trail is a good length for a yoyo, since going one way could be done in a single day if you pushed it. You can also make it sort of like a loop doing on direction by the ocean, and at least 1/2 the return side can be done on the trail/road which is up the hill a fair bit. I don't have my map handy, but that's what I did the year before the fire. For away the upper trails were closed, but I am preety sure they reopened in the last few years.


Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: "A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/26/2011 06:23:57 MDT Print View

Craig, I could run your proposed route through my Topo program and get you an elevation profile.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/26/2011 10:07:21 MDT Print View

Craig - When do you plan to go on this trip?

Ken - What was the name of the dirt road we drove on last year for the shuttle?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: "A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/26/2011 12:14:36 MDT Print View

Wilder Ridge, Kings Peak Rd.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"A few Lost Coast area questions." on 04/26/2011 16:28:19 MDT Print View

Wrong thread.....

Edited by davidlutz on 04/26/2011 16:47:22 MDT.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
A few (more) Lost Coast area questions. on 04/27/2011 13:52:56 MDT Print View

I'm planning on heading up to hike the lost coast over memorial day weekend and I also have a few questions about it.

- We probably wouldn't get up there until Friday night around 9pm. Should I just reserve a hotel in the area or any chance we would be able to camp at Shelter Cove? There will be 4 of us. Was hoping to camp there Friday night, leave the car and get a shuttle to the Mattole trailhead the next morning.
- According to google maps, it's about a 2 hour drive from Shelter Cove up to the Mattole trailhead. Does that seem about right?
- I'm assuming there will be a ton of other people up there since it's a holiday weekend. Has anyone else been up there over memorial day weekend and know if it will be difficult to find a decent campsite each night without being in tent city?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: A few (more) Lost Coast area questions. on 04/27/2011 16:29:25 MDT Print View

Camping at Shelter Cove is doable although the campground is really meant for RVs. Can be very windy as the campground is an open area on the bluff. You could stay in Garberville and make the drive to the cove in the morning. Not the easiest drive at night. 2 hours is right on for time between the two trailheads. It can get busy but it is a large area out there. You should not have to experience the tent city effect. With gas prices as they are I don't think it will be as busy as some years past. It's a haul from most anywhere to there. Remember that the noobs are the ones who camp exposed on the beach. Some really nice camps up some of the bigger canyons. If you do stay in Garberville, don't leave your stuff in the car overnight. I have never had a problem with my vehicle at either trailhead.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: A few (more) Lost Coast area questions. on 05/25/2011 12:41:22 MDT Print View

Thanks Ken. I'm assuming the camps up the bigger canyons are on regular soil and not sand? Was just talking to a ranger and they mentioned most sites are on sand, so I'm wondering if I need to pick up a few tent stakes made for sand and/or bring a freestanding tent instead of the pyramid tarp I was planning on bringing.

Joseph Ainsworth
(jainsworth123) - F

Locale: Greater LA area
Re: Re: Re: A few (more) Lost Coast area questions. on 05/25/2011 13:46:17 MDT Print View

I found even sand stakes didn't work out there. Either put up deadmans, or just grab some 2-3 inch think branches and pound those in. That was the only way I could get mine to stay up last time.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: A few (more) Lost Coast area questions. on 05/25/2011 13:49:26 MDT Print View

Plenty of rocks/sticks out there to make any shelter work. I've never had a problem out there with stakes in the ground with large rocks on top, even in 50 mph winds. I suggest staying off the beach to camp. Better soil and chance to get out of the worst of the wind. No blowing sand either.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: A few (more) Lost Coast area questions. on 05/25/2011 14:13:11 MDT Print View

cool, thanks. the ranger i spoke to made it seem like it was all beach camping. good to know we have options.

Dylan Snodgrass

Locale: San Francisco, CA
A few Lost Coast area questions on 05/25/2011 14:52:58 MDT Print View


I did the bike shuttle route your talking about a few years ago and it worked well. At the Thorn Junction stay on the Briceland/Thorn Rd don't go towards Shelter Cove, the Cove Rd involves a massive climb. Eventually you wind up at a junction called 4 corners turn south on the Usal Rd and your good. The portion of the Usal Rd from 4 corrners to Usal beach only had one spot with water so bring extra. Ignore the gate (closed in winter) and signs saying the road is unmaintained during winter, everything was fine. The roads are quiet and you follow the Mattole river for much of the ride it's pretty cool. A few words about this ride.

1. It is physically demanding! I'm an ex bike racer and a dirt touring fanatic who keeps in shape and I was wrecked after this ride. Lots of elevation gain.

2. I did the ride on a cyclecross bike with a slick touring tire it worked fine, I think they were 32's. The Usal Rd is dirt but non technical you just need volume so you don't pinch flat on the descents. My buddy rode his MBT with a dirt tire and it slowed him down significantly, much of the ride in on road or fast hard-packed dirt.

3. South of 4 corners is marijuana growing country. I saw a few dudes in camouflage on motorcycles (dirt bikes) who slowed down and gave me the evil eye. No big deal but I wouldn't advise straying from the road very far in the search for water, just bring some extra for that portion. The Whitethorn school, you'll ride right by it, had a spigot.

4. Usal Beach campground is a large and forgotten place where I'll be surprised if you see anyone. TONS of good places to stash your bike in the bushes (with lock).

5. Have you considered doing this in reverse? If you do the hiking portion southbound you have the wind at your back and no blowing sand in your face it's much better.

6. At the Honeydew store there are these bars some local makes called "Honeydew Hummers." They are really good! Also at the Thorn Junction you can detour aprx .5 miles towards Shelter Cove on the Shelter Cove Rd to a place called Whitethorn Construction. It is a large lumber yard right on the road you won't miss it. Inside is a AWESOME cafe with excellent coffee, sandwiches, and treats.

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Lost Coast on 05/25/2011 17:41:29 MDT Print View

I have read this whole thread so forgive me if someone already said this.
But watch out for the tides when hiking lost coast. There is a relatively large section of the trail that is completely covered with ocean during certain parts of the day. My friend and I literally had to run as fast as we could to make it. Upon looking back we saw that everything was covered with water. There's a tide schedule at the mattole trailhead thats worth noting.

Also watch out for cow pies. TONs of em up there.