June, 2019 Adventure: Walking the Lost Coast Trail 

 June 17, 2019

By  Lost Coast Tours

We have just returned home and shaken some black sand out of our boots. Time for a quiet reflection of all the awesome sights we encountered on our trip. After coffee this morning, it occurred to me that some people may want a fresh account of what to expect on the trail.

We are living the guide life, running trips for REI Adventures and backpacking one of the most unique trails in Northern California, the LCT. Sleeping under the stars and showing people all the hidden secrets of this trail is our favorite pastime.

Northern California backpacking doesn’t get much better than a trip to the ocean where you can enjoy 26 miles of walking accompanied by sightings of elephant seals and otters. The LCT (Lost Coast Trail) may be the most unusual trail that I have ever hiked. There have been no two adventures on this long stretch of coastal beauty that have been quite the same. The terrain is constantly changing at the hand of the big blue sea, manipulating different sections of the trail or ripping chunks away to create new landscapes. Directly West, (or for most hiking the trail north to south,)  the Ocean on your right hand side can be a gentle giant or a raging beast.

Here’s what we came to expect last Thursday through Sunday. There are four types of terrain that you will encounter, sand, gravel, rocks ( & boulders) and hard packed dirt. The tidal zones are most likely to change so do take this account of the trip with a grain of, well…….sand.

We began the first day at 9:30am with the tide slowly dropping ( high tide was somewhere around 4am) and we planned to hit the tidal zone around 11am, just before low tide. We trekked through deep, fine grained sand onto hard pack along Punta Gorda.

Between Mattole and the loneliest Lighthouse, there is a significant creek crossing, along with several seasonal runoffs to navigate. As you descend into the tidal zone just beyond Sea Lion Gulch, you may encounter sizable boulders, requiring some rock hopping to reach the beach. This terrain gradually transitions from larger rocks to smaller ones and sand. Ensure you don’t overlook the leftward turn uphill to explore the bluffs instead of walking exclusively on the sand.

The next notable camping area is Cooskie Creek, strategically situated in the midst of the tidal stretch. Opting to press onward, we decided to establish our camp at Randall Creek. For dinner, we prepared burritos featuring dehydrated rice, refried beans, and the indispensable hot sauce, Sriracha.

Day 2 began up the trail from Randall and along the hill above the beach towards the flats. This grassy section is beautifully decorated with poppies and wild radish right now. Just be sure to watch your step, rattlesnakes sometimes come out to sun themselves along the trail here, (and are sometimes even seen on the beach.) Our destination was Big Flat for lunch and Shipman’s Creek for camp tonight. There has been a lot of movement at Shipman’s this year, expect lots of log jam areas, less camping but beautiful creek and ocean views. At this point in the trip water crossings have been frequent, almost every two miles.You will be hiking along the beach from here on out, sideways sand and lots of small to medium sized rocks that can be hard on the ankles.

With another early low tide on our third day, we reached Buck Creek and began the challenging day hike with steep inclines. After stopping for lunch, we pressed on to spend the night at Horse Creek. Despite the shorter journey to this point, the coastal stretch is lengthy and scorching, calling for ample sunscreen and water. Our well-deserved Saturday night dinner featured a delightful fusion of Miso soup followed by peanut sauce pasta. Before the meal, we came across the following quote, which resonated with us and we wanted to share it, hoping to inspire your own outdoor adventure.

“None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.”

Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy of Walking


Enjoy your trip, plan well and plan early. Don’t underestimate the tides and the weather and most importantly be safe.

Thanks for reading and if you need help with trip logistics, check out our website or call the office below


(707) 382-1959

-Lost Coast Adventure Tours (a guide’s tale)

Lost Coast Tours

Operations Manager

Silvia Camarena

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