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Lost Coast Trail

Thursday, July 6, 2023 - Friday, July 14, 2023 -- $1725 ★★★★


Back in the 1930s, California constructed State Route 1 along the Pacific Coast. When civil engineers reached the steep and rugged shores of Mendocino County, they decided the terrain was too steep, rugged, remote and costly to continue building the road along the coast so they built it inland.

This bypassed coastal land became known as the "Lost Coast" because of its undeveloped remoteness and the difficulty of getting there. Over the years, not much has changed the character of the wild Pacific Coast. Such characteristics made it a much sought-after destination for backpackers like us.

Our hike will begin about 5-6 hours from San Francisco, CA at Mattole, a tiny campground on the remote Pacific coast near Petrolia, CA. We'll walk down the coastline for a few days past the Punta Gorda Lighthouse (where where you can generally expect to see a surfeit of sea lions) while being ever careful to avoid high tides that can prevent or delay passage. Then we'll turn inland where even fewer hikers go and the character of the terrain changes markedly. We'll summit 4091' King Peak to see sweeping views of the Pacific (if the fog will allow). Then we'll stay high up on the ridge before descending back to the beach and the Lost Coast Trail. If you've never seen the Pacific Coast (or an endangered Marbled Murrelet) this is the trip for you. Note: You will almost certainly not see an endangered Marbled Murrelet

Topographical Map of Proposed Route

See CalTopo map


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s and 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s & 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as 80 and as low as 30 or several days of rain. Here is a sample of the historical weather. On a the July 2009 Fatpacking trip to Redwood National Park (reasonably nearby), the weather was so mild and clear we were able to sleep out under the stars almost every night, but of course you never know what will be in store for us when we're there.

Probable Trip Leaders

Rick Romine
Any Other Guide(s) TBD


There are two different terrains to navigate on our Lost Coast trip. One is the beach -- sandy, rocky and few places to get a good foothold. So while the elevation changes are minor, there can be a fair amount of plodding (to use and aleatory non-technical colloquialism).

The inland trails on the trip are in much better condition. Firm purchase, switchbacked and generally clear of impediments. Of course it's up, up, up and eventually down, down, down. So ... a different challenge.


$1725 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from San Francisco, CA (SFO), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, backcountry permits, campground fees, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.

Important Notes

Until our permit is awarded, we are unable to guarantee that our trip will begin on the proposed date. If we are denied that particular day, we will request a window of 3 days before and 3 days after to begin the trip, with +/- 1 day being preferred over +/- 2 or 3 days.

Depending upon permitting, it is possible that we will hike this route in reverse.

Our hiking will be primarily on the wild Pacific coast. Although beach hiking is technically mostly flat, sand and rocks will retard progress, sometimes significantly. We need to pay careful attention to tides as parts of the coast become dangerously impassable whenever tides are over 3'.

Because there are black bears in the area, we are required to carry bear canisters. Bring yours if you have one (and let us know you're bringing one) otherwise we will be able to provide you with one.

In order to avoid high tides, we may find ourselves hiking at any time of the day or night. While we will obviously try to avoid hiking at night, we may end up doing so at times. In past years, nights have provided a full moon but for the proposed dates, expect to hike in the darkness of a New Moon -- an immersive tactile experience you will not soon forget.

Warning: Large unexpected waves have caused drownings. Never turn your back on the ocean!

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
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Thursday, July 6, 2023

Fly or drive into San Francisco (SFO). Some time between Noon - 3PM is the ideal time to arrive, but if you can save a substantial amount on trip costs by arriving a few hours earlier or later, you should do that.

Take the free airport shuttle to our local hotel

We will assemble at: TBD, To Be Determined

You should have already done an online shakedown pre-trip, but guides will still ask you a few questions and give you a "mini equipment shakedown"

Possible trip to REI San Carlos, 1119 Industrial Rd, Ste 1B, San Carlos, CA 94070, (650) 508-2330 for last minute forgotten items

Make Your Own Trail mix bar. You construct your own tral mix from our selection of ingredients.

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Go out to welcome dinner at local restaurant. Cost of dinner not included in trip cost.

Stay in local hotel: TBD, To Be Determined

Friday, July 7, 2023

2nd set of "before" measurements taken

Free hotel breakfast or guides will provide a continental breakfast

We are unsure if cars can be left at Hotel. If so, the hotel may charge you and have you sign a document that they assume no responsibility for your property. It may also be possible to drive your vehicle up to the trail

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and placed in storage

Shuttle to Mattole Beach off of Lighthouse Rd, Petrolia, CA (This will take 5+ hours)

One Guide and one willing participant shuttles vehicles to Black Sands Beach off of Shelter Cove Rd, Whitethorn, CA and rides back with a shuttle service This will take 4 hours. There are other ways to work shuttling depending upon group size and vehicles available.

Participants hang out on the beach and remaining guide serves a late lunch

Begin hiking on the Lost Coast Trail, elevation Sea Level

Hike 1.9 flat beach miles on the Lost Coast Trail to an unnamed creek, elevation Sea Level

Punta Gorda can be impassable at high tide. High tide is at 5:35PM so we should plan to eat dinner when we reach the area.

When the tide allows, resume hiking. Hike about 1.0 miles around Punta Gorda to Fourmile Creek

It's near Summer Solstice and we're on the Western edge of the time zone, so it won't get dark until 10PM.

Camp at Fourmile Creek (Punta Gorda), elevation Sea Level. Water reliable here past the lighthouse. Camping is dispersed

Miles today: 2.9 miles. Total to Date: 2.9 Miles

Possible bailout: Mattole

Saturday, July 8, 2023

The tides for today are important. There is a 4 mile stretch that is impenetrable at high tide. Here are the tides for July 10th according to NOAA

  • 12:07 am (Low Tide, 1.4')
  • 5:48 am (High Tide, 4.25')
  • 11:38 am (low tide, 1.26')
  • 6:21 pm (High Tide, 6.13')

We will have plenty of time centered around 11:38 am to make it the 4.0 miles although the tide is not particularly low as we would like it to be (under 3'). We should begin our hike so that we reach the beach as the tide is slack at around 10:30AM.

Hike about 0.8 flat beach miles on the Lost Coast Trail to Punta Gorda Lighthouse, elevation Sea Level

Hike 1.1 flat beach miles on the Lost Coast Trail, elevation Sea Level

The next 4 miles are impassable at high tide. We aim to embark upon this section as the tide is receding.

Hike 4.0 flat beach miles on the Lost Coast Trail to Randall Creek, elevation Sea Level

Hike 1.9 flat beach miles on the Lost Coast Trail to Spanish Creek, elevation Sea Level

Camp at Spanish Flat, elevation Sea Level. Water is reliable here.

Mileage Today: 7.8. Total mileage: 10.7

Possible bailout: Mattole, one day away

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Hike 5.9 flat beach miles on the Lost Coast Trail to Miller Flat, elevation Sea Level'

Camp at Miller Flat, elevation Sea Level. Water reliable here.

Mileage Today: 5.9. Total mileage: 16.6

Possible bailout: Telegraph Ridge Dirt / Unimproved Road (very lightly used) a day away

Monday, July 10, 2023

Hike 4.9 grueling uphill miles on the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail to Bear Hollow Camp, elevation 2800'

Camp at Bear Hollow Camp, elevation 2800'. Water reliable here, but can be a trickle.

Mileage Today: 4.9. Total mileage: 21.5

Possible bailout: Smith Etter Dirt / Unimproved Road (very lightly used)

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Hike 0.8 miles on the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail to the King Crest Trail, elevation 3600'

Hike 2.2 miles on the King Crest Trail to the Lightning Trail, elevation 3400'

Hike 0.5 steep uphill miles on the King Crest Trail to King Peak, elevation 4088'

Hike 0.3 miles on the King Crest Trail to the Lightning Trail, elevation 3600'

Hike 0.4 miles on the Lightning Trail to Maple Camp, elevation 3400'

Camp at Maple Camp, elevation 3400'. Water found at Maple Spring

Mileage Today: 4.2. Total to Date: 25.7

Bailout: King Range Road (lighly traveled)

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Get a pre-dawn start today to beat the tides

Hike 0.4 miles on the Lightning Trail to the King Crest Trail, elevation 3600'

Hike 4.3 miles on the Lightning Trail to the Buck Creek Trail, elevation 3200'

Hike 3.6 knee crushing downill miles on the Buck Creek Trail to the Lost Coast Trail, elevation Sea Level

The tides for July 14th are as follows

  • 4:13am (-.54')
  • 11:04 am (4.18')
  • 3:14 pm (3.1')
  • 9:26 pm (6.54')

Hike 1.5 flat miles (impassable at high tide) on the Lost Coast Trail to Gitchell Creek, elevation Sea Level

High tide is at 10:01 so we should hopefully make it to Gitchell Creek before the tide comes in. if not we can stay at Buck Creek and get a middle-of-the-night start the following day

Mileage Today: 8.3. Total mileage: 34.0

Possible bailout: Saddle Mountain Trailhead

Thursday, July 13, 2023

We will only need to go 1.7 miles before we are to Gitchell Creek and clear of the tide area. Low tide is early in the morning and we will want an early start anyway. Leaving by 7AM should be fine.

The tides for June 26th are as follows

  • 4:58am (High Tide, -.76')
  • 11:53 am (Low Tide, 4.34')
  • 4:07 pm (High tide, 3.19')
  • 0:08 pm (Low Tide, 6.54')

Hike 3.7 flat beach miles on the Lost Coast Trail to Black Sands Beach Trailhead, elevation Sea Level

End of hiking

Mileage Today: 5.4. Total mileage: 39.9 [Call it 40]

Possible bailout: Black Sands Beach

Shuttle 4 hours to Mattole to pick up vehicles. We may send a party out early to do this.

Shuttle 5+ hours back to San Francisco

Shuttle back to local hotel: TBD, To Be Determined

Gather your off-trail items from storage

After body composition measurements taken

Dinner and awards ceremony at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Stay in our local hotel (included in trip cost)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Take Free Shuttle to Airport or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber

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