Hike the Chinquapin Loop on The Lost Coast

Rate this Adventure 6 miles 600 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Mike Servedio

This is a scenic hike along California's Lost Coast featuring views over the Pacific Ocean as well as the King Range Wilderness. 

I did this hike the day before setting out on a backpacking trip along the northern section of The Lost Coast Trail and it was a fantastic warm up hike. The Chinquapin Loop is a loop off of The Lost Coast Trail along Chemise Mountain, near the start of the southern section of the LCT.

You can start this hike from three different trailheads. My friend and I were camping at the Nadelos Campground (6 miles) and started from there. You can also start from the Wailaki Campground (6 miles) or the Hidden Valley Trailhead (8 miles).

If you start from the Hidden Valley Trailhead you will hike the Hidden Valley Trail/LCT through open meadows making your way up Chemise Mountain gradually. Starting from either campground, you will switch back up the side of the mountain for about 800 feet.

If coming from either campground, you will reach the LCT just shy of the summit of Chemise Mountain (2598 feet). You will have to make a left on the trail here to head slightly uphill. You'll arrive at the top of the mountain via a short side trail and a fine vista that looks out over the King Range Wilderness. There is a bench here and would make a great lunch spot.

Continue on from the vista along the LCT as it runs along the top of Chemise Mountain. You will reach the turn off for the Chinquapin Loop after a mile or so. You can take the first turn off or continue on the LCT another mile to where the loop reconnects. We chose the latter on the day we did the hike.

The trail on top of the mountain is scenic in its own right, with partial views down to the ocean as it weaves it way through the forest. Turn right onto the Chinquapin Loop after a mile or so from the first sign. The trail will gradually wind down the side of the mountain. There are multiple views down to the Pacific as well as wildflowers along the trail.

The Chinquapin Loop accesses Nicks Camp, a backcountry campsite that features a year round water supply in the Chemise Creek. There is also a nice view from nearby the camp. 

You conclude your hike by heading back up the side of Chemise Mountain to rejoin the LCT and returning the way you came, forming a lollipop loop. 

We did this hike on a very nice Sunday afternoon in June and only ran into two others hikers, backpackers doing the southern section of the LCT. We saw quite a few more people along the beach section of the LCT in the days following.  

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