Lost Coast Trail
The Lost Coast Trail takes over where Highway 1 leaves off along California’s rugged coastline. “This trail is similar to the Oregon Coast Trail in that it’s a really cool blend of being in mountains that touch the sea,” says LaRuffa. “And there’s a lot of madrone trees, which are really unique and really dramatic to look at. They have an exfoliating bark that’s this rusty-orange color.”
The total trail distance is 52 miles, divided into a north and south route. The north section is mainly beach and the south section is mostly mountains (with 12,000 feet of elevation change). A four-mile section of road in the Shelter Cove area separates the two.
Time to Complete: 4-6 days
Terrain: Sand, boulders, pebbles, stream crossings, and high tide point walk-arounds are all par for the course, and your feet absolutely will get wet.
Best Segment You Can Do In a Day: Black Sands Beach to Gitchell Creek (8 miles out-and-back) is a sandy path starting at the southern terminus of the Lost Coast Trail’s North Section.
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