The Lost Coast is California's most pristine stretch of coastline. You won't find any roads, cell phone reception, or cliff-hanging mansions here. Just 80 mi of undeveloped shoreline marked by towering cliffs, isolated beaches, and a diverse array of extraordinary wildlife.
Thanks to its rugged, inaccessible character, construction of any major highways across its terrain has always remained too costly, leaving this remote oceanfront closed to everyone except those who are willing to explore it on foot. And the best way to do so is via the Lost Coast Trail (LCT).
While you can technically hike the LCT year round, the best time to hike the trail is generally between May and October. In the summer months, you'll experience warmer temperatures and less rainfall compared to the rest of the year. Regardless of when you decide to hike, be sure to pack quality rain gear and check the local weather conditions before setting out.
The LCT is located entirely within the King Range National Conservation Area in Northern California. The trail stretches 25 mi from Mattole Beach in the north to Black Sands Beach in the south.
Since the LCT is traditionally a point to point hike, you'll need to arrange transportation to get you between the two trailheads. If you're hiking in a group, one option is to bring an extra vehicle to drop off at the finishing trailhead (Black Sands Beach). Another option is to book a private shuttle. There are two official shuttle operators, Lost Coast Adventure Tours and Mendo Insider Tours, and they both offer transport from Black Sands Beach (Shelter Cove) to Mattole Beach (but not the other direction). With this option, consider parking your car at Black Sands Beach in the morning, taking the shuttle to Mattole Beach (2 hours), and starting the hike from there.
You'll need a car to get to Black Sands Beach, as there are no public transportation options that take you all the way to the trailhead. The closest airport is the Arcata/Eureka Airport in Mckinleyville; from there, it's a 2 hour drive to the trailhead. From San Francisco International Airport, expect a 5.5 hour drive.