Fallback

A Family Backpacking Trip to California's Iconic Lost Coast

Exploring the rugged—and refreshingly remote—King Range National Conservation Area along the North Coast with mom, dad, wife, and dog in tow

A Family Backpacking Trip to California's Iconic Lost Coast

Author

Colton Jacobs

Photographer

Colton Jacobs

Camera

Canon 7D Mk II

Film

NA

https://www.fieldmag.com/articles/backpacking-california-lost-coast

Images and words by Colton Jacobs

When my parents invited my wife and I on their upcoming Lost Coast backpacking trip, I had my doubts. After all, it’s hard to imagine any part of California being still considered “lost.” But as the story goes the area in question—spanning both Humboldt and Mendocino Counties—was too treacherous for builders of Highway 101, so they simply left that stretch of California's North Coast as is and built around it. Now it’s known as the King Range National Conservation Area, or Lost Coast as it were. 

The plan was pretty straightforward, and mellow. We’d cover 30 miles in five days from Mattole Trailhead to Shelter Cover. The entire hike was along coastline and almost every mile was on the beach, which may sound great at first glance, but after you experience miles and miles of sand you’ll be begging for firm, solid ground. Nevertheless it was to be a beautiful family experience—my Shiba Inu named Bambi included.

"After you experience miles and miles of sand you’ll be begging for firm, solid ground."

Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-12
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-17

Before we set out trail reports mentioned something about dogs having issues with sand irritating their paws… I ignored it like a true overconfident pet owner. Bambi did great for the first day and half but by the end of day two she was pretty sore—the sand had gotten inside of her pads, chaffing them raw. She wasn’t comfortable hiking any further and I wasn’t about to carry her the next 20 miles so our remedy was duck tape and some rain fly material. Each day, multiple times a day we had to re-tape her poor paws because it was hot and she loved playing in the waves. Can’t blame her, really.

Each night we stayed at a different oasis, as perfectly constructed campsites along fresh water creeks that pool up before they dump into the ocean were prevalent. Since we spread the 30 mile hike over five days, each day started late (which meant sleeping in, yes) and ended early, usually with a sunset swim, believe it or not.

Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-14
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-13

The trail keeps going past Shelter Cover but that’s where we called it quits, which wasn’t bad because the town has an amazing resort overlooking the coast line we just backpacked. Now throw in some pizza, beer, and a hot tub, and it was an obvious decision. 

Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-4
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-3
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-6
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-5
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-8
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-9
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-7
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-16
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-15
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-18
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-19
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-21
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-24
Colton-Jacobs-Lost-Coast-25
Fallback
Related articles
Japanese Alps Hiking Guide: Everything You Need to Know
Everything You Need to Know About Hiking the Northern Japanese Alps

North of Tokyo in the Nagano, Toyama, and Gifu prefectures, the peaks collectively known as the Hida Mountains or Japanese Alps are a hiker's dream

New Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound Pack & Tent Are a Thru-Hike Dream
Hyperlite Mountain Gear's New Pack & Tent Are a Thru-Hiker's Dream

Combined with the Maine-based brand’s new down quilt, the new 40-liter backpack and two-person tent create the ultimate "big 3" backcountry system

20 Photos from a Bushwhack Backpacking Trip Through the High Sierra
20 Photos from a Bushwhack Backpacking Trip Through California's High Sierra

If you're willing to venture off-trail (and up and down 10,000 feet of mountain passes), you can have California's popular hiking region to yourself

Hiking the Arizona Trail: A Complete Guide to the AZT
A Complete Hiking Guide to the Arizona Trail

Extending from the Mexico border to Utah, the 800-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail is a challenge for any hiker—this guide should help that

13 Great Day Hikes Near Portland, Oregon for a Quick Escape
13 Great Day Hikes for a Quick Escape Near Portland, Oregon

Waterfalls, scrambles, leisurely hikes, and more, explore the rich nature that surrounds Oregon's largest city

Q&A: Colin O'Brady on Walking Over Antarctica, Meditating, & New Book
Adventurer Colin O'Brady on Walking Across Antarctica, Meditating, & His New Book

In "The 12-Hour Walk," the world record-holding explorer argues that a salve for mental fog and anxiety is to go for a very, very long walk

More articles
Fallback
Fallback
A Family Backpacking Trip to California's Iconic Lost Coast

Gallery Mode

Photographer

Colton Jacobs

Camera

Canon 7D Mk II

Film

NA

Back to article
Fallback
☮️ Welcome to Field Mag

Get the best new gear, dreamy cabins, and epic adventure photography delivered to your inbox each week with Field Mag newsletters

Click Here to Subscribe
☮️  Welcome to Field Mag