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Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A
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Lauren Watwood
(laurenwatwood) - F
Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A on 03/20/2012 12:46:48 MDT Print View

Hey hey fellow packers,

I'm new to backpacking and am unbelievably excited to get started on a 24 mi. trip along the Lost Coast Wilderness Area in Humboldt County. It begins in Mattole Beach and ends Ferndale. I'm wandering if anyone has done the trip themselves and may shed light as to what to expect and or what I ought to bring. Also! I'm looking to bum a ride back to the car in Mattole Beach at the end if anyone lives in the area and finds themselves with nothing better to do on a Friday afternoon on March 30, 2012.

Thanks so much for your help!


Edited by laurenwatwood on 03/21/2012 10:49:05 MDT.

Angus A.
(mangus7175) - F

Past TR's on 03/20/2012 12:53:19 MDT Print View

Here you go...

Hope that helps.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
bumming rides on 03/20/2012 14:58:15 MDT Print View

Hi Lauren,
Looks like a great trip. It's usually easier to try to bum a ride at the start of the trip from your car to the trailhead. Then you can just walk to your car at your own pace and not have to wait for a ride or keep your ride waiting. Wish I could help you out but am obviously in the wrong state. Good luck.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, CA. on 03/21/2012 06:18:56 MDT Print View

OK Let me help some here. Mattole is the start of the trail at the north end. Mattole is an hour and 15 minutes from Ferndale. It is not even close to Arcata.. let alone Arcadia. The trail goes south and ends, this section anyways, at Shelter Cove. It is an hour and forty minutes drive from one trailhead to the other.

It is a great experience out there and I'm sure you can have a good time.

Start reading this...

You will need a bear canister per person.

The commercial shuttle options are expensive. How many in your group?

Read up and feel free to ask me anything. I'm heading out there this weekend.

Lauren Watwood
(laurenwatwood) - F
For Ken on 03/21/2012 10:46:51 MDT Print View

Hello Ken,
Thank you so much for your reply. As you have deduced, I am just learning about the area. I looked briefly into the shuttle, however, the income of two college students doesn't amount to such luxuries. I have got a few questions for you, if you don't mind me picking your brain for a few moments. We (two of us) have Monday morning to Saturday morning to drive down (7 1/2 hours from Bend, OR), hike the trail and drive back. We are both physically quite fit and can keep a good pace. Therefore, I think we'll be hiking at the least 10 miles a day. This being said with no previous experience of multi-day backpacking. What do you think about trying to go for a loop, hiking the beach south then looping into the mountains back north? Is that even an option this time of year? Are we likely to see very many people along the trail?

Thank you so much for your insights Ken, I really appreciate the outlook of someone who has done the trail before.


Ryan Commons
(RyanCommons) - F

Locale: Bay Area, California
Video of the entire lost coast on 03/21/2012 12:30:41 MDT Print View

Here is a video of the entire trip:

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, CA. on 03/21/2012 19:09:09 MDT Print View

Pick away. We are doing a loop this weekend. I think that is a good idea for you two as well. Easier on logistics certainly.

How are your navigation skills? honestly. The trails up on the ridge are not the best marked out there. Do you have the skills to stay warm and dry?

Not to be a Debbie downer, but if weather is poor I would reconsider this location for a first multiday trip. Just for the lack of bail out options. The creeks are high this time of year.

Edited by kthompson on 03/21/2012 19:15:07 MDT.

Lauren Watwood
(laurenwatwood) - F
Nav, skills, and ever more questions on 03/21/2012 23:09:20 MDT Print View


My navigational skills are good. I am well prepared with the proper gear to stay warm and dry in adverse conditions and have the skill set necessary to keep safe/warm/dry/alive. Thus far anyways, my knowledge of mother nature has served me well, though there is always more to learn. I'm wondering what gear we may want to pack for looping back around through the mountains. The highest peak is only 4,000 feet, if I am correct. It seems to me a reasonable idea to hike back that route-unless it is exceptionally hazardous terrain. You say you are doing the loop this weekend? How long do you suppose it will take you, at what rate? How much weight are you carrying? Sorry I am inundating you with so many questions! And thank you again for your prompt replies.


Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Nav, skills, and ever more questions on 03/21/2012 23:35:50 MDT Print View

I have done this trip several times over a weekend. Sometimes the loop was in two days (night before start was spent in a hotel in sheltered cove so I could get an early enough start). I have also done it casually over 2.5 days with no hotel. My memory is that my overall speed was around 2.5mph. Depending on the trip I did 14-28 miles in a day where I was walking comfortably… not racing. My pack was fairly light, something like 15lbs.

I having not been tracking weather there so I don't know what this season is looking like. I have been on one trip there were the weather was gorgeous… but most have had high winds (>35mph) at night and a fair amount of rain. Whenever I got a new tent my wife would look at me and say "When are you planning to go to the lost coast?" because she knew it often had great weather for testing.

For someone who is fit, carrying moderate weight, it certainly possible to do it as a loop or an up and back. I will give two caveats. The first is than down by the coast you are walking on uneven stones and/or sand. This is a lot more tiring than walking on traditional trails, so take that in to consideration. I found that it slowed me down by around 25% compare to alpine walking one well established trails. These second is that there are sections where it's hard (maybe impossible) to go when it's high tide. Most of the trail guides call all the dodgy sections and you can get a noaa tide chart.. lost coast is +5 minutes from this one.

I haven't been on the upper route since the fire damage a number of years ago, so I can't tell you want it like these days.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A on 03/22/2012 07:18:09 MDT Print View

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A on 03/22/2012 07:30:28 MDT Print View

You should not find, but will, the driftwood shelters on the beach. These are routinely taken down these days and are not encouraged. No cairns either. I don't do more than 15 miles per day. Weight varies depending on season. Never enough to make it a burden. Though walking on the sloped beach is a workout for the ankles. Uses enough energy that it almost feels like going uphill as you foot sinks in with every step in places.

Get the map, info packet from the BLM. The Wilderness Press map is a piece of crap.

Edited by kthompson on 03/22/2012 07:34:12 MDT.

Lauren Watwood
(laurenwatwood) - F
Solo Trip on 03/24/2012 16:51:23 MDT Print View

Looks like my partner has to bail due to work. So! This has turned into a solo trip! Anything the solo packer should know?

Diana Todd
(dtodd919) - F

Locale: Truckee Ca
Re: Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, CA. on 08/10/2012 23:48:06 MDT Print View

Hi Ken I see that you hike this section of the trail often, and are quasi local. I am familiar with the area and an avid backpacker but have not done this trail before. A friend and I are planning a trip August 17-20 wonder if you will be in the area and if this is a good time of year? Thanks in advance Diana

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A on 08/11/2012 00:26:07 MDT Print View

If you happen to start in Shelter Cove, you need to get to the ranger station before 5:00-ish (i think) to get a permit before they close. I have only been a couple short times, and there were some overgrown areas. Blackberry bushes are brutal on ultralight gear. And poison oak. I had to clear out a whole batch of it for my friends who are allergic to it, and this was at an obvious site that hadn't been used much lately. Keep that in mind if you want to explore inland or camp away from the well beaten sites.

If you plan on camping in the sand, I would recommend a free standing tent or to just cowboy camp if the weather permits. Trying to set out lines for a tarp shelter in the sand is very frustrating...your shelter just collapses in on you if there is any wind.

A bear canister is required for each person.

Edit: I didn't notice that this thread was so old! Sorry about that. I went there in April or March, can't remember, but the weather was brutal and my friends wanted to bail, so not the greatest trip.

Edited by justin_baker on 08/11/2012 00:33:15 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A on 08/11/2012 06:11:33 MDT Print View

Justin, everyone is allergic to poison oak.. just sayin. Sage advice otherwise

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, CA. on 08/11/2012 08:03:01 MDT Print View

I'll be around next weekend Diana. Should be real nice this time of year. Could be pretty warm too. Nice.

permits are available at the trailhead so don't worry abut finding an open ranger station. One canister per person is mandatory.

Here is all the info you should need.

Please feel free to PM me if you have any particular questions. You are not yet set up for PMs I see.

Edited by kthompson on 08/11/2012 08:11:32 MDT.

Diana Todd
(dtodd919) - F

Locale: Truckee Ca
Hey Ken on 08/11/2012 14:30:01 MDT Print View

Thanks Ken yeah I have not figured how to use the PM's yet I am working on it. We will arrive late thursday night Friday morning ish, if you are available for shuttle help that would be great (I am fully willing to compensate for this help in a way you deam appropriate).I have a bear canister, I need to find out if Anna owns one or if we need to rent. I see you own dogs, and I don't see anywhere that they are forbidden, is this true? I have a six year old heeler and it would be sacraligious to spend 4 days/nights in the woods with out him. My personal email is in case I can't work out the PM situation.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A on 08/11/2012 14:41:28 MDT Print View

Well, apparently I am not. I don't freak out about wading through the stuff in shorts. I have intentionally rubbed it on my self to prove a point. My father, mother, and grandparents have never gotten poison oak.

Anyways, pants are probably a good idea!

Edited by justin_baker on 08/11/2012 14:41:59 MDT.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Hey Ken on 08/11/2012 15:01:37 MDT Print View

Diana,go to the top right side of page and click on change my profile there will be a box for adding your email address where you will receive and reply to your PMs,once you have set up yours and want to PM him,click on the name of the person you want to PM and it will have a place to click to send this person a PM and you can write your message.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Hiking Lost Coast Trail, C.A on 08/11/2012 15:06:07 MDT Print View

Western Poison oak leaves and twigs have a surface oil, urushiol, which causes an allergic reaction. Around 15% to 30% of people have no allergic response, but most, if not all, will become sensitized over time with repeated or more concentrated exposure to urushiol.