California is often synonymous with white sand beaches, sunshine, and movie stars. Still, it only takes a little bit of digging to recognize that The Golden State is much more than what Hollywood movies or the catchall tourism promotions portray.
If you know where to look, there are pockets of rugged wilderness and pristine landscape up and down the Pacific Coast, and perhaps no stretch of coastal California is more remarkable than The Lost Coast. This 25-mile stretch of shoreline is as remote as any you will find in the contiguous United States and offers the perfect escape from the crowds, heat, and traffic elsewhere in the state.
The Lost Coast is within both Humboldt and Mendocino Counties and earned its name following a significant population exodus in the 1930s. State Highway 101 runs along nearly the entire California seaboard – that is, until it hits The Lost Coast. Here, the jagged coastal King Range meets the ocean and made for an unsurpassable obstacle during the highway’s construction in the early 20th century.
The lack of a major highway system has allowed natural beauty and quaint isolated communities on the outskirts of this region to thrive. Visitors flock here each season to marvel at the untouched shoreline, gaze in wonder as the mountains meet the sea, and cherish an individualized coastal wilderness experience. The only way to truly experience the magic and wonder of The Lost Coast is by foot, and for that, Wildland Trekking’s five-day expedition can’t be beaten.
When to Go
If you have spent any significant time on any coast, you know that the weather can be extreme and unpredictable. Wind, rain, and fog can be common occurrences when exploring shoreline at the more northern latitudes.
On The Lost Coast, the weather can be as demanding as the terrain itself, depending on when you choose to go. On the plus side, the Pacific Ocean itself helps create a temperate climate year-round – keeping temperatures relatively comfortable for camping all months of the year.
The summer months tend to be the most pleasant in terms of weather, but these months also generally see the most visitors. Regardless of when you choose to explore The Lost Coast, be sure to check forecasts and historical weather patterns to pack appropriately and guarantee comfort on the trail.
May to October is considered the high season on The Lost Coast. During these months, visitors can expect less rain and high daily temperatures averaging in the upper 60s or low 70s (Fahrenheit). Evening low temperatures could drop into the upper 40s or low 50s – making tent camping cool but pleasant.
The drier conditions of the summer months mean trails are in their best shape. In 2017, the King Range Wilderness Area started to require permits for overnight camping, which helped keep visitor numbers in check.
Shoulder season in Northern California can be identified as late September to mid-November and March into May. During these months, you can catch some good weather windows before or after the winter squalls hit, and simultaneously avoid the crowds coming into the region in the summer.
Shoulder season is a magical time of year for those working seasonal jobs across the country. During these months, on either side of a busy season, their bustling little tourist towns become quaint communities occupied mostly by locals. If timed right, the shoulder season can be an incredible time to travel anywhere, and The Lost Coast is no exception.
The winter months from December to late February are considered the off-season on The Lost Coast, but with the right timing and a little bit of luck, this can be a great time to secure some valuable time in the wilderness.
High temperatures will rarely break 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and lows typically drop into the mid-40s. While these temperatures are pleasant, the winter months also bring the heaviest rain to the area. The Lost Coast sees an average of over 60-inches of rain during the winter. It is also not uncommon for precipitation to couple with harsh winds and big ocean swells in the winter.
If booking a backpacking trip in the off-season, expect parts of the trail to be hard to cross with streams and creeks being completely swollen. Dry bags, warm layers, and an extra dose of perseverance are essential if hoping to visit The Lost Coast in the winter.
In the winter months, accommodation is generally cheaper, but many summer attractions will likely be closed.
Wildland Trekking offers only one way to experience the magic of The Lost Coast, by backpacking. But trust us, there is no better way to explore this incredible landscape than spending several days seeing and experiencing everything the region has to offer! Our trek will take us from dune grass to fascinating tidal zones, and even provide the opportunity to view the historical Punta Gorda Lighthouse. Wildland Trekking’s 5-day Lost Coast Trek gives you enough time to soak in everything there is to see in one of the most beautiful regions of California.
Need to Know
Our professional team does an excellent job of handling all trip logistics. However, there are still a few points we need to cover to make sure you’re adventure goes as smoothly as possible.
Primary Starting City For The Lost Coast
The primary departure location for this trip is Sacramento, CA, and participants should plan on arriving no later than the day before departure. As with all travel, though, it is helpful to give a little bit of a buffer to shake any jet lag, settle, and account for any unforeseen circumstances.
On the evening before the trip departs, your guide will hold an orientation meeting at the Hampton Inn & Suites Sacramento-Airport-Natomas, and we will leave from here on the day of departure. Logistically, it makes the most sense to stay here for any nights spent in Sacramento.
During orientation, your guide will inform the group of the departure time for the following morning. At the end of the trek, we will drop you back off at this same hotel. Like your arrival, it is helpful to stay an extra night at the end of your trek to account for any unpredictable circumstances.
Our trips tend to fill up very quickly, so make sure you book far and advance to ensure you get the trip dates you want! Also, please book your trip with us first and hold off on paying for transportation and lodging until we confirm your reservation with us. Once your trip is confirmed, you’re all clear to plow ahead with your travel arrangements.
As mentioned, the Hampton Inn & Suites Sacramento-Airport-Natomas is our recommended lodging for before and after the Lost Coast Trek.
We will be camping for four nights in the beautiful and pristine wilderness of the California coast during the trek. Wildland Trekking will provide industry best tents, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags. Additionally, a technical pack and trekking poles are included, as we will be moving camp every day.
Finally, all entrance fees and permits are covered by the organization as are meals from breakfast on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5.
One of the many great things of our Lost Coast Trek is that transportation is mostly human-powered and self-sufficient. During the trip, we will be hiking every day. We will be traveling via shuttle to access the trailhead on Day 1 and to return to Sacramento on Day 5. The cost of this shuttle is included in the trip cost.
The only transportation cost you are responsible for is how you choose to get into and out of Sacramento.
For more detailed information about travel logistics during your Lost Coast trip, visit our Travel Resources page.
Have more questions? Send us an email or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453). We’re here 7 days a week from 9:00 to 4:30 Mountain Time to make sure your trip planning goes as smoothly as possible.
For more information about all your options, check out our Lost Coast page on the website with the button below! Individual trip pages have detailed itineraries, trip specifics, travel information, and more.