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The Lost Coast - King Range & Sinkyone Wilderness
Mattole Beach to Randall Creek
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King Range National Conservation Area
Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
California Coastal Records Project
California Coastal Records Project: Mattole River Campground
California Coastal Records Project: Usal Beach
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2006 Shelter Cove Tide Tables
Suggested Books
The Lost Coast: Stories from the Surf
Hiking the California Coastal Trail: Oregon to Monterey
Nearby Campgrounds
Humboldt Redwoods State Park 16 miles
Benbow Lake State Recreation Area 29 miles
Richardson Grove State Park 30 miles
Standish-hickey State Recreation Area 38 miles
Russian Gulch State Park 68 miles

Trail Journals

The Lost Coast - King Range & Sinkyone Wilderness

Pages:   Introduction   1   2   3   4
Day One - Mouth of the Mattole to Oat Creek Map: Mattole Beach to Randall Creek
Sea Lions
Sea Lions
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Rocky Beach
Rocky Beach
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The trail at the Mattole Beach campground begins at the gate and almost immediately puts you onto the beach. The beaches here were mostly pebbly rather than sandy and they are very soft.

We passed by about 3 dead sea lions early in the day. This was a gruesome sight as they had holes in them, either from decay or where other animals had chewed into them. These were pretty big animals.

The route continues along the beach until a little before the Punta Gorda Lighthouse where the trail goes onto a flat above the beach. This dirt trail continues past the lighthouse and Sea Lion Gulch, aptly named since there are many sea lions here. There was also a shipwreck. Soon the trail descends past some fallen buildings and immediately ends at the beach.

Soon after Randall Creek the beach becomes rocky. It is like walking on bowling balls and this seems to go on for about a mile. Eventually the trail resumes off the beach at Spanish Flat which had recently been burned by a camping stove. Soon you pass Smith Cabin and then just around the corner is Oat Creek where we camped.

Day Two - to Bear Hollow Campground Map: Spanish Flat, Big Flat and King Peak
Etter Cabin
Etter Cabin
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Looking up creek
Looking up creek
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The trail continues past Kinsey Creek and soon passes Etter Cabin. It will soon climb higher above the beach and pass through a short wooded section as it rounds a point. It then descends closer to the beach, rounds another corner and soon you will be at Big Flat where you will find a fairly majestic compound with a few fancy cabins. There is also an airstrip here which I understand is out of commission, though we did hear an airplane fairly low overhead while hiking inland to Rattlesnake Ridge.

Once we arrived at Big Flat we made a mistake. You see, we wanted to hike up to Kings Peak so we decided to camp at Bear Hollow campground over 2000 feet above. I would recommend you camp at Big Flat and day hike to Kings Peak. It will be a tough hike, but you won't be carrying a full pack.

So, from Big Flat we followed the trail inland. It starts out pretty flat and crosses the creek a few times. I understand that this 2 mile section of trail changes somewhat from year to year depending on what gets washed out during the winter storms. At the final creek crossing the trail begins a laborious climb consisting of many switchbacks. Be sure to stock up on water at this creek because once you begin to climb there won't be another place to get water until Bear Hollow.

The switchbacks here are steep and slippery with many roots to climb over creating a stair-like effect. This is one of the hardest climbs I have ever hiked despite its relatively low elevation (I usually backpack near or above timberline). Eventually the trail levels out somewhat and within a mile or so we arrive at Bear Hollow, a poor and buggy campsite with spring water trickling from a pipe at the back of the campsite.

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