The Lost Coast is a spectacular meeting of land and ocean along the most undeveloped, remote and rugged stretch of coastline along the U.S. West Coast. I was eager to return here after an amazing experience in 2010 (see 2010 TRs: King Range, Sinkyone). This time, I joined Colin and Gary for the complete tour of the coast from the mouth of the Mattole River to Usal Beach. Complete album here.
The northern portion of the Lost Coast is protected by the King Range National Conservation Area and 42,585 acres received Federal Wilderness designation on October 17, 2006. The southern portion is protected in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, named after the Sinkyone Indians that lived on this part of the coast. The two sections are split by Shelter Cove, a small community of mainly vacation homes, but the parts are completely different in terms of the overall feel and experience. The northern 26 mile section in the King Range NCA from the Mattole River to Black Sands Beach at Shelter Cove is primarily a beach walk with two-thirds of the distance spent on sand, gravel, and rock-hopping and the remaining third on trails just above the beach on the bluffs. The southern 27 mile section from Hidden Valley to Usal Beach in the Sinkyone is entirely on the bluffs above the ocean with arduous climbs and narrow, brushy trails in the forest – a true adventure run with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. The northern part features sweeping oceanside views at every step while the southern part has inspiring vistas from atop rugged cliffs. The vegetation transitions from grassy hillsides at the far north end to lush Douglas fir forest further south. There is even a few nice groves of old growth redwoods in the Sinkyone portion. We did not come across many people on either of the days and in particular, the Sinkyone portion is infrequently traveled, as manifested by overgrown trails with often poor footing. The first day along the beach featured glorious blue skies while the second day in the Sinkyone featured a dense marine layer with 800 foot tops that kept the beaches foggy but the ridge crests sunny. The “twilight zone” resulted in some amazing sunbeam through the foggy forest. Here are some favorite photos from the King Range Beach walk, which took 6:45. Complete album here.
Many more photos in the complete album here.