Jun 2, 2011 at 1:54 am #1274778
First, I just want to say I love these forums, and I've got lots of useful information from them. That said, I am planning a trip to the Lost Coast Trail with my best friend for June 5th-9th (but could extend all the way to the 11th if we need more time.) This is our annual "Cleansing Hike", appropriately dubbed for a variety of reasons. We were originally heading to the Sierra Nevadas, but recent snows are making that near impossible. I've checked the weather and realize we might be heading into a storm on the 5th and the 6th. However, we both have experience backpacking in some nasty storms, so we're not all that worried about mother nature. Rather, we are concerned with bringing the right gear, and choosing the safest stretch of the trail to explore. We're probably not interested in doing much more than 7-10 miles a day, as we will eventually have to loop back to where we started — but we're both in the best shape of our lives and up for any physically demanding challenge. We both live in big cities (I live in Los Angeles, and my best friend lives in San Francisco), so we're definitely looking for a sparsely traveled area; one that feels like we're miles from anyone or anything remotely civilized. Another goal of the trip is to make it as cheap as possible — as we're both struggling students. We would be coming up highway 101 from Santa Rosa early on the morning of Sunday, June 5th. Now that I've set the scenario (and sorry it became somewhat of a novel), I was hoping you guys might be able to answer a few questions, and possibly offer some advice:
1. What would be the best place to start our journey — the north or south fork of the trail?
2. Is there a place where I can get a map of the trails online so that we could start tentatively planning?
3. Any special supplies or food you would recommend bringing?
4. Is there spots for shore or stream fishing along the way?
5. Permits — prices, where to get, what different types we need (for example fire permits, overnight permits, etc.)?
6. Is overnight camping allowed anywhere we please along the way, or is it all in designated areas?
7. On several message boards I've seen reference to a historic lighthouse, is this possible to reach?
8. Any other cool sites, trails, or must see points of interest you would suggest checking out?
9. I have a fully functioning water purifier, but I don't believe it can purify ocean water, is there a plentiful supply of freshwater streams to fulfill our water needs, or will we have to hike in with our water supply?
10. I know that great care has to be put into preparing for the tides, could you give me a rundown on this, and how to properly prepare?
11. Stream crossings, are we going to get wet regardless, or is there ways to navigate around the water?
12. Anything else we should know before venturing out here?
That's all I can think of at the moment. Any information would be greatly appreciated. And, I do apologize for bombarding the post with questions, it's just we get one chance a year to get out into the wilderness, and it's getting harder and harder just to find time for this one trip. I was extremely excited when I stumbled across this little gem, and I want to make the most of it. PS. I plan on creating a detailed photo journal of the trip and then reporting back to you guys. Thanks for all the help! ^__^Jun 2, 2011 at 5:23 am #1743900
Start with reading the information available here…. http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/arcata/kingrange/index.html
Get the map and tidebook from the BLM for $5. Best map on the area out there.
Plenty of fresh water along the way.
No stream fishing.
Bear canisters mandatory.
The lighthouse is on the trail.
Wear trail runners. Be prepared for wet feet the entire way. Many streams.
Most of your questions will be answered by reading the info at the link I provided.
We were there in April.Jun 2, 2011 at 10:11 am #1744003
@ryancommonsLocale: Bay Area, California
I agree with all of the above.
I encourage you to start in the North and head South. This puts the wind on your back. Wind in the face is unpleasant on the Lost Coast.
Also, I short about 30 minutes of video and edited it down to show the entire Lost Coast Trail and some of the Kings Range Mountains. You can watch it here to get a sense of what the rivers, camps, lighthouse, and beaches are like.
Here is a link to the video on my blog with my group gear list, food list, and a trip report:
Searching for Adventure on the Lost Coast TrailJun 2, 2011 at 12:34 pm #1744069
You might want to consider the South half of the lost coast also known as the Sinkyone Wilderness between Usal (Hwy 1) and Shelter Cove. I think there are less people on the trail, no bear canisters, and no beach hiking.Jun 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm #1744289
Thanks guys for all the info. I hit up an REI and got the wilderness press map. Ryan, I love the video, and your blog. It was packed full with all the information I needed. So ready to get this trip started!!!Sep 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm #1777077
I've scoured all the Sinkyone threads on this forum and have a few comments and questions:
I've been wanting to hike this area for 13 years now and I am strongly considering this October (2011). While I've never been in the Sinkyone area, I've driven thought the roads of the Kings Range in the past (which is what got me interested in Sinkyone and the Lost Coast trails.
I'm rounding up my gear (buying some gear, etc…).
1. It looks like I would need, what I call hybrid hiking shoes, as opposed to leather Asolos because you can count on crossing streams and creeks (and leather won't dry out fast enough). Does everyone who has hiked Sinkyone agree that all leather is not a good choice for this trail?
2. Ticks and Poison Oak are a continual problem on this 16-18 mile trail right? Can one actually avoid Poison oak or is it all over that actual trail? (I decidedly know what it looks like)
3. It looks like November is most likely very rainy but October holds a chance to be reasonably decent (although I know it can still be unpredictable). I cannot make it this month but October is doable. Or would I be better off waiting until next May or June?
4. Most of what I've read, seems to suggest starting North (at the Needle Rock center) and going south – as opposed to the other way around. I may just hike half way through and turn around and head back to the car, regardless of whether I start from the south trail head (Usal Beach) or North trail head (Needle Rock). If I decide on that approach, is the southern half more scenic or the Norther half (of Sinkyone)? Especially the redwood groves?
5. If all things go well, can the entire 16-18 miles be hiked in 3 days (2 nights), and still allow enough time to stop and enjoy the surroundings? I'm in excellent shape but I also want to allocate enough time to stop and appreciate the area.
6. If I decide to hike the entire trail (of Sinkyone)I've read a little about getting shuttles back to your car (south to north or vice versa). How do I find out more about that?
7. Lastly (for now), I will probably hike this alone. How busy is this trail in October (how many hikers a day)in the event something were to happen? Would I be waiting more than 24 hours for someone to come around? I know there is no cell service in this area.
thanks in advance for putting up with all the minutia.Sep 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm #1777092
1 Trail Runners will be fine.
2 Permethrin your clothes. Poison Oak is a fact of life up here. Heavier in some areas than others.
3 October can be the nicest month of the year here.
4 Going south. Prevailing winds makes this the reasoning behind that choice. Not much in the way of Redwoods there. That is Douglas Fir country. Still pretty large.
5 Lots of ups and downs, but yes. I have not been. I stick to the Lost Coast trail for now. But someday I'll get down there.
6 Shuttles very expensive for one. http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/arcata/kingrange/shuttle_service.html
7 Quiet. You will be on your own there.
If any of that puts you off or you have more questions please feel free to PM me.
You are also welcome to join us in October for the Morris Meadow Octoberfest in the Trinty Alps 10/20-23
Hope this helpsSep 11, 2011 at 11:25 am #1778465
I like starting at Needles Rock as Usal is know as the party spot. I started from there on my first trip and did not have any problems but there were partys going on. The was a group of young guys that were going to stay at the camp site next to us after we came out. I went over to talk with them and they decided to just go out on the beach and party there. Needle Rock has a visitor center maned by volenteers, is very quiet and I trust my car there. The road is in very poor condition and you have to be careful driving in although I did see a dodge van in there last Mothers Day weekend.
The trail camp sites are $5. to camp in and the one at Bear Harbor is not considered a trail camp and will cost $25 to stay there. You can do the length in 3 days without a problem but I have always gone in half way (Jackass point) and turned around.
Leather boots are fine in the Sinkyone as there are fewer streams and they are easy to cross. I never even had to take mine off.
If you want you can contact me directly and I can tell you more. If the timing is right maybe I can go with you as it is one of my favorites.
Jim.Sep 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm #1778959
Jim…thanks for the info. Being so far away (living in Kansas), input from folks (like Ken and you) is so very helpful.
I would have replied earlier but I just got back from a 4 day weekend in Rocky Mountain Nat'l park. GF and I did a few day hikes and some R&R in Boulder (it was my B Day). I really love the high elevations and the challenges it gives your lungs. No other feeling like 10k+ peaks can give! GF is recovering from foot surgery, so she could not push it too hard. I felt like a mountain goat and just wanted to go-go-go! She gets her kicks doing half marathons though (not my cup of tea).
I'm hoping to get to Sinkyone in mid to late Oct. Starting to round up gear now that I'm missing and I need a new pair of hiking boots. Considering these from Merrell. I tried on a pair of Asolos at REI in Boulder and though they were too stiff in the ankle.
Jim, I have a few more questions tomorrow about Sinkyone, if you don't mind that I'll post tomorrow.
BTW, I am very familiar with the entire NW cost and Sinkyone has been on my bucket list for over 10 years. I grew up in LA – but have lived in Kansas for the last 30+ years (don't ask). The NW coast is my fav vacation haunt and I've been to the Mendocino coast 10+ times over the last 15 years. Oregon coast and Vancouver Island are also favorite places (ever been to Tofino?)
Someday I hope to retire to the Arcata or Trinidad area.Sep 14, 2011 at 7:31 am #1779434
1. This time of year, do the creeks have enough water to treat so I don't have to pack too much water in? I'd like to bring two water containers and keep filling them up (and treating them on the trail)
2. Is there a phone number for a ranger station that can answer some more pointed questions about the area? I'm guessing the Needle Rock visitor station has no phone, since it is manned by volunteers and often there is no one there?
3. Is the NR visitor center the only place to pay for permits or is there a self pay station anywhere? (i.e. South end – Usal Beach)
4. If I decide to hike all the way through which, for me, would entail chartering a shuttle, how do I find out more about that? (1.e. email addresses or phone #'s?)
I've looked at weather.com for average weather info for the month of October. Are there other sites that have better average weather info for Sinkyone?
5. Since I'll be renting a car in SF I will try to acquire a 4WD since the north roads is often in bad shape. Would something like a Subaru Outback make it okay? Or do I need something beefier? I realize torrential rains render the road improbable or totally impassible, unless one has a very HD 4WD. But I'll punt or temporarily postpone the expedition anyway, if heavy rains are present or imminently forecast.
Jim, would you prefer I email you directly with some of these questions? I only post these here so others might be able to glean info (now or in the future)Sep 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm #1779545
Check the links I provided in my last post. All contact information and info on shuttles is there.Sep 17, 2011 at 8:05 pm #1780460
1. Lots of water. You do not need to carry too much.
2. At Needles there is usually someone manning the visitor center but there is a self pay post in front. They also do not have a phone and run on generator power. I do not remember about Usal.
3. I use NOAA for the weather. http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/
4. A Subaru would do just fine.
5. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
6. You can contact me anyway you like although I'm a terrible typer.Sep 20, 2011 at 5:55 am #1781149
Looks like I'm going to be hiking Sinkyone by myself for 3 days 2 nights – possibly a 4th day/3rd night (I want to be flexible on he 4th day/3rd night option) and most likely the first day of hiking will start the morning of Wed Oct 12 or Thursday Oct 13.
I still need to purchase top maps, although I'm not real sure how necessary topo maps of Sinkyone are. I would think a basic map of the trail and camp site locations might be sufficient? It's a pretty basic wilderness area if you stay on the actual trail and don't veer off very far on any spurs?
Of the numerous times I've been in the area in my life, I don't recall flying insects ever being a problem, so do I don't think I'll need a head net (mosquito net) to go over my hat?
I should be booking my flight into SFO this week (and getting a small SUV rental). Most of the gear I'll need for this trip will be arriving this week. I'm borrowing a tent, trekking poles and mattress pad from an avid backpacking friend (thanks J.B.!). He is supposed to be sending that stuff soon too.
I plan on stopping at the REI in Santa Rosa for stove fuel (can't check that on the airlines). I also plan on checking into a hotel room somewhere in the Mendocino area (or Ft Bragg) the first night before the hike commences to log on the internet and check the weather one more time before getting up the next morning and commencing the hike. If a storm or heavy rain is eminent, I'll postpone the hike a few days. I've no desire to trek through all 3 days of downpours!
Thanks Ken for the (doh!) reminder of the link in your post. It was helpful. The shuttles are apx $350 – which is reasonable – but since I can't spread it among several people, my plan is to hike (starting in the North from Needle Rock) appx half way in and yo-yo back out to Needle Rock. Someday in the future perhaps I can hike the southern half. That link was helpful since it has some phone #s to call for specific details.
Jim, I may email you (the one listed on your forum profile) if that is OK?
And if anyone has any comments on whether there is a great need for a topo map of Sinkyone, I'd like to hear it. Thanks in advanceSep 20, 2011 at 6:01 am #1781151
Glad to be of help. Anytime.
Bugs. Doubtful they will be much of an issue. But having said that…
I would not worry too much with maps. Ocean on one side until you turn around. Basic will be fine.
Looking forward to the trip report!Sep 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm #1781743
John, You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 707-599-7575 and remember I'm in CA.
You can get a map at Needles Rock visitor center and help support the park.
I would be very supprised if it raines at all but would expect fog in the morning.
If you start early (say, by as late as 10:00 AM) there is a great camping spot at Wheeler I can tell you about.
Jim.Sep 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm #1781790
Ticks galore. I've only hade two ticks embed my skin and both were on the lost coast trail. Do wear light colored pants and apply deet. We had to do tick checks after everytime we went through any overgrown brush and we probably flicked off a hundred each. The picture is of a tick hanging onto a peice of grass in the middle of the trail.
I'm confused about the trip though. Someone said you could stay at wheeler camp but you said you'll do the south part later and wheeler is south.Sep 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm #1781820
I purchased a can of Premetherin and plan on treating my pants and shirts. Chemicals like that make me nervous as hell, but Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever make me even more nervous.
And yeah I'll be doing tick checks. My hiking zip pants are light in color so it should be easy to spot them but I need to procure a light colored outer layer shirt (all my present ones are dark) so I can spot them easily there too.
My biggest problem is that I'll be hiking alone and it really helps to have a partner to go over your back side for tick inspection. Oh well. I don't take ticks lightly and Ken's has already given me fair notice on previous posts.
I don't like Poison Oak either but at least I know what it looks like!!!Sep 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm #1781825
It's funny out there with ticks. Some years are real bad and others not so much. This year we saw none when we went in April. Spring is usually the worst. Be aware but don't stress it. Pemethrin works wonders. You won't even realize it is there once dry.Sep 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm #1781863
The camp sites go like this. From Nedles the first site is Bear Harbor at .5 miles in. Next is Wheeler then Little Jackass Creek and then Anderson Gulch then you come out at Usal.
Little Jackass is just about the middle of the trail which is 22.1 miles long.Sep 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm #1781864
I need to reexamine the trail and how the camps populate the trail But my plan is to start at Needle, hike half way in (appx) and then back to Needle (where my car will be). I may go deeper than half way, if I'm "feeling it", as my schedule should allow for a 4th day (and 3rd night) if I want to. If so, it would simply mean I hike deeper than half way in, before turning back. That decision will be made on the trail though.
I can't wait. It's been a dream for 10 years or more.
BTW, I assume there is absolutely no cell phone coverage in the area? So I should leave my phone in the car? No point in lugging it with me if it won't work.Sep 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm #1782307
If I start at Needle Rock, and hike 2 full days in (without rushing it), is it possible to make it to Wheeler at the end of the 2nd day? and Camp at Wheeler on the 2nd night?
I have a pretty good map, and it looks like it is slightly past the half way mark, but Wheeler is the next camp south of Bear Harbor, right? So it looks like I need to make it to Wheeler on my 2nd day or simply plop down wherever I see fit (which I assume is not cool or legal) north of Wheeler?
I found this pdf document that is full of maps a few years ago and it has several good maps revealing topo, camps, creeks, etc…
It looks like my first night I will camp at either:
Orchard Camp, Railroad Camp or Bear Harbor Camp (any recommendations on any of these 3?)
There does not seem to be a sanctioned camp between Bear Harbor and Wheeler, so Wheeler looks like the likely candidate for the 2nd night?
And then that is a long hike back to the car at Needle (from Wheeler) on the 3rd day…but I am keeping my options open to stay a 3rd night.
Those that are familiar with the area, please chime in on my plan…thanks in advance!!!!Sep 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm #1782325
that I've found.
It's been a while but I remember from bear harbor camp going up on a cliff at the south end of the harbor and seeing the most beautiful sunset on the ocean that I've ever seen. I killed my battery trying to capture the suset but a picture never did it justice.
This is bear harbor from further south.
I envy you. Lost coast was my first backpacking experience, I've been back twice since and I'm sure I'll go there again. You'll definitely "feel" the the fourth day and won't want to leave. I remember we stayed at bear harbor and then at jackass creek. It's only 4.3 miles from bear harbor/orchard/railroad to wheeler and 4.5 from wheeler to jackass. You could definitely make it to wheeler or little jackass. After little jackass is when the switchbacks up begin. You could also drive to bear harbor instead of walking on the road and worrying about making all the way back up to needle rock.Sep 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm #1782724
I know collecting forest firewood is not allowed. Beach driftwood IS allowed. Most driftwood usually gets pounded in during the brutal winter storms. So I'm guessing it will be scarce in October before the deluge of winter storms and most of the driftwood has already been picked over by this time of year.
Any thoughts on this for October? I'm also guessing that some of the camps proximity to the beach is not easy, so hauling driftwood up to camp may not be that easy? (depends on which camps?)Sep 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm #1783515
Nope, No cell phones. (I love that part)Sep 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm #1783544
I was there in March and had no problems with ticks. Went off-trail one day though, and the next morning I regretted wearing shorts – turns out we brushed lots of poison oak in our carelessness.
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