Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lost Coast Trail (What I Learned)

In conclusion, here are a few things I learned while hiking the Lost Coast Trail, and some things I would do differently next time.

1.) I would not advise taking Usal Road unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and don't mind giving it some damage. Take the Briceland Thorn Road out of Garberville instead. It is much easier, despite the extra mileage. If you insist on taking Usal Road, remember the road is not marked. Look for "Usal" painted on the pavement of highway 1. Also bring spare tires.

2.) I'm not sure what I advice I would give concerning the tide charts. Perhaps, the little yellow booklet I bought would suffice as far as knowing the approximate time of the high tides. Perhaps a little more research can give you an exact time for the specific area of the Lost Coast where the trail is impassable. Trust your instincts.

3.) There are escape routes along the impassable high tide portions of trail. I will not advocate hiking these sections during high tide. Just be aware that if trouble arises, there are options. Again, use your best judgement, and trust your instincts. Don't be afraid to turn around and wait out the tide.

4.) The BLM Lost Coast map is excellent. Spillz, Kyle and I would use it when we needed a more detailed visual of where we were at times. The map is big, so it was annoying using it in the wind. We also used the printable Lost Coast Map on the BLM website. This often came in handy because we could put it in our pocket and access it quickly when we needed a broad overview of where we were at times.

5.) There is plenty of fresh water to be found on the trail. I never used more than 2 quarts at a time. The driest section was during the southern half. Nick's camp has water if you are low around the Chemise Mountain area. Otherwise, there is plenty of water after descending off the ridge line next to the ocean.

6.) Bring the bear canister. There was plenty of evidence of bear activity. We also crossed paths with the ranger who checked on us.

7.) Have cash on hand to pay the daily parking fee of $6.00 per day if you choose to park at Needle Rock. Mattole parking area was free.

8.) Don't forget your car keys if you are doing a two car placement.

9.) Check out the deli/store in Shelter Cove if you have finished your hike. Fish and chips, burger and fries, cold drinks, and ice cream are heavenly even after two days in the wild!

10.) Fill your car with gas before heading towards the lost coast. I believe there are places to fill up in in Shelter Cove, Petrolia, and Honeydew but it may be more expensive.

11.) Ticks were a real problem. Take whatever precautions you find necessary. Despite being as cautious as I've ever been before, I still was bitten by a tiny nymph deer tick.

12.) I probably would bring a tent next time, not my tarp for more tick security while sleeping. I think the deer tick got me when I was sleeping on the first night.

13.) Bring sun tan lotion. I would prefer to wear a white long sleeved shirt next time as well. The sun became quite hot during the day.

14.) Kyle wore a sun hat while hiking. I commented how fresh he looked while we were in Shelter Cove during day three. Spillz and I looked way more weather beaten as a result of not wearing a hat that kept our faces, ears, and neck completely covered. I keep telling myself to buy one of these hats, but still have yet to follow through with that idea.

15.) I hiked in trail runners and had no problems at all with my feet. Would do it again.


  1. Happy to see you made it back okay. The end of Day 3 seemed to be setting up for another unexpected development.

    I would second your intent to get a big floppy hat. I've got one with a long tail to cover my neck and shoulders. Definitely keeps me cooler than a ball cap. Mine also has the side benefit of protecting my ears from annoying buzzing insects. I keep it on even under the shade for just that reason.

  2. Thanks Skyhiker. I will have to look into buying one.