Outbound Collective logo

Backpack Lost Coast: Shelter Cove to Mattole

Whitethorn, California


Added by Ashley Chang

Distance: 25 miles point-to-pointElevation gain: 50 ftDuration: 3 days/2 nightsBeautiful spot on the Northern California Coast!Seaside campgrounds

Make sure to get to the trailhead early in the morning. You will need to bring two cars and park one at Mattole campground, the other end of the trail. Parking is free but it takes around an hour to get between campgrounds. There is also a shuttle but it is a little pricey. Also be sure to get a permit when you arrive.

Starting at Shelter Cove, head north up the beach. This first day is almost entirely on the beach, but be prepared to walk over large rocks. High tide hits twice a day, and several miles at the end of the first day are impassable at high tide (you should also bring a tide schedule). You will pass several campsites along the coast. To split the trail evenly between days, it is best to stop at Big Flat. Shortly after passing Buck Creek. you'll scale up a few meters of rock and follow the trail a bit farther along the coast and down to the campsites. Each of the campgrounds is on a river/stream so water is not hard to come by.

The second day starts off on a trail that stays along the beach and eventually leads down to the sand. Continue following the beach past several streams. These are good places to stop for lunch or to refill on water. Cooksie Creek is a nice secluded campground, but also in the middle of an impassable zone so make sure to get there at least an hour before high tide.

On the last day, continue north past a lighthouse. Walking on trails is easier than sand when possible, but when in the sand its best to stay on the edge of the damp sand where boots won't sink as much.

Have fun and wear sunscreen!

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app


Dog Friendly


Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


King's Peak from Shelter Cove

Black Sands Beach on the Lost Coast

Chinquapin Loop on The Lost Coast

Jackass Creek via Lost Coast Trail

King's Peak via Lightning Trailhead

Camp at Usal Beach on the Lost Coast