Backpack The Lost Coast: Mattole to Black Sands Beach

Mattole Trailhead

Take in stunning coastal views along this 24 mile stretch of coastline with nicely laid out campsites and easy access to water. Need to have shuttle car (best to leave your car at Shelter Cove TH and take shuttle up). Duration: 3 days/2 nights.

This is an absolutely stunning 25 mile thru-hike on the northern part of California's coast. To accomplish this hike, you'll either need to bring 2 cars or use a shuttle service. It's recommended that you drop one car at the Shelter Cove Trailhead (40.0455053,-124.0778196) and either use one of the shuttle services to drive you up to Mattole or drive your second car up there. Keep in mind that it takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive between the two trailheads.

Along your trek, there are several places to camp for the night. This map lays out the designated areas. Be sure to pick up a more detailed one at the ranger station.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you keep an eye out for the areas that are impassible at high tide
  • Check tide charts and weather reports before heading out on the trail
  • If rain is forecasted, bring your rain gear and rain cover for your pack

Pack List

  • Map from the ranger station
  • Pack
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Tent
  • Water bottle
  • Water filtration system
  • Backpacking stove
  • 3 days worth of meals
  • Hiking Clothes
  • Hiking Boots
  • Bear Canister
  • Sunscreen
Show More
RT Distance 24 Miles
Activities Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Family Friendly


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Ball Busting Great Views

The views were amazing, plenty of animal life, but man, the sand went from firm to soft, to tiny pebbles, to boulders, to hardpack dirt and back to soft sand. It's definitely difficult terrain, even though it's mostly flat. Make sure to pack a pair of Tevas, since you'll have a lot of stream crossings. We did this one in two days, could've stretched it to three, but not worth doing it for longer than three days.

Spectacular Hike

Amazing scenery and varied landscape on this hike, found the best camping spot right near the beach! Agree with everyone else, the sand hiking - although gorgeous is a ballbreaker!

Stellar backpacking trip!

Did this twice - one as a yo-yo and the other just backpacked in to Big Flat and relaxed for a couple days. The LCT is such a rad place! Saw whales, otters, sea lions, bear (tracks), foxes, turkeys, deer, jackrabbits, snakes, western fence lizards, and a whole host of birds. Definitely a place to go to see wildlife. Go in March-Aprils to see the wildflowers!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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