lost coast backpacking
Wahoo! We're so pumped you're registered for this backpacking adventure to the Lost Coast, the most remote, rugged section of California's coastline.
You'll find most of the info you need to prepare for your trip on this page, but we'll email you the week of the trip with final details about our any final updates, carpools, and bios from the other rad ladies who'll be joining you.
We'll be sleeping in one established backcountry campsite (Bear Hollow Camp) on our first night, and in one true backcountry site on our second night. On our second night, we can pitch our tents wherever we want to within the bounds of Leave No Trace principles (more than 200 feet away from trails and water, in spots that already look impacted). We'll gather water from streams and purify it for drinking, and dig holes in the ground to poop in.
Lunch / dinner on Friday, breakfast / lunch / dinner on Saturday, and breakfast / lunch on Sunday will be provided. The group will share in cooking and cleanup responsibilities. Please arrive on Friday with breakfast and coffee already in your bellies!
We’ll eat tasty hot meals for breakfast and dinner. Each Maven will create her own ‘snack bag’ at the start of the trip, with dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, jerky, granola bars, etc. To keep our energy up, we’ll snack throughout the day on trail, rather than having a single lunch meal. We’ll have more than enough snacks for you (think: bars, nuts, dried fruit, jerky for meat eaters) but if you’ve got any favorite trail treats, feel free to bring them.
- Day One: 5.1 total miles from our cars to Bear Hollow Camp. We'll climb 1400' over the first 2.1 miles, hike 2.2 mostly-flat miles, then descend 800' over the last .8 miles to our campsite.
- Day Two: 9.7 total miles from Bear Hollow Camp to Gitchell Creek. We'll descend a whopping 2400' over 2.9 miles until we hit Big Flat Creek, descend an additional 400' over 2.0 miles until we hit the beach, and then hike 5.2 miles along the ocean to Gitchell Creek.
Don't be deceived into thinking beach hiking is easy! The terrain ranges from soft sand to wobbly, bowling-bowl sized rocks.
- Day Three: 3.7 total miles from Gitchell Creek to our cars at Black Sands Beach trailhead, all on the beach.
Expect rough terrain, stream crossings, some bushwhacking, and the chance to practice your decision-making and navigation skills, as Lost Coast trails are quite rugged and overgrown.
While this is our anticipated itinerary, your actual itinerary may change based on tides and group hiking speed.
The Lost Coast is black bear country, and Trail Mavens takes every precaution when traveling in bear habitat by storing food, drinks, toiletries, and trash in bear-resistant containers.
While it's very unlikely we'll spot a bear on our trip - we'd be lucky if we did! - you can be prepared by reading REI's brief on backpacking in bear country.
Our group will pack together before setting off on the trail. In addition to your personal effects, you'll carry some group gear and group food. Your guide will teach a packing lesson, and help you decide which gear to carry and what, potentially, to leave behind.
As noted above, the Lost Coast is black bear country, and we must store anything scented in our bear-resistant canisters, including toiletries. The canisters have limited space, so plan to leave behind non-essentials. We recommend toothpaste, a toothbrush, contact lens supplies (if needed), and lip balm (if needed). The group will share sunscreen, insect repellent, and hand sanitizer. Feel free to bring those on the trip, but we may end up leaving yours in a car at the trailhead. Please do not bring deodorant, makeup, or large packs of disposable wipes.
Each Trail Maven should plan on packing:
- Health insurance card & ID
- Tampons/pads/Diva Cup as needed
- Toothbrush/mini toothpaste
- Personal medications
- Glasses/contacts with solution (if needed)
- A pen
- Previous Field Notes (Trail Mavens alumnae only)
- Optional: hiking poles, small pillow, earplugs, lightweight shoes for hanging out at camp (we prefer something you can wear with socks, like Crocs, over flip-flops), camera, bandana or Buff to keep sun off your neck
- Sleeping bag rated at 30° or colder
- Sleeping pad
- Headlamp with fresh batteries/spares
- 60L backpack (or larger) with rain fly
- Backpacking bowl/cup/spork
- Sleeping bag liner (if borrowing a Trail Mavens sleeping bag)
- Personal clothing (see below)
- Sturdy, broken-in waterproof hiking boots
- Water bottles and/or hydration bladder with a minimum 2L capacity (we prefer a bladder to drink out of while hiking, and a separate water bottle to drink out of at camp)
- Sunscreen/sun hat/sunglasses
Items in bold will be provided for those women who indicated they needed them during registration.
SHARED ITEMS, PROVIDED BY TRAIL MAVENS: tents, food, bear-resistant canisters, stoves, fuel, cookware, camp chairs, utensils, and basic First Aid.
This trip is a great opportunity to practice your minimalist packing skills! In all cases, avoid cotton (i.e. no cotton socks, no cotton sweatshirts/sweatpants). We recommend the following:
- One wool/synthetic shirt (no tanks due to shoulder chafing) [example]
- One 'relaxing at camp & sleeping' tee (the one exception to the cotton rule!)
- One synthetic long-sleeved lightweight shirt [example]
- One pair shorts or capris for hiking during the day (your choice)
- One pair leggings or long underwear for warmth at night (we love fleece-lined leggings or wool long underwear) [example]
- One pair warm long pants for warmth at night (we love fleece pants) [example]
- One synthetic long-sleeved wool or fleece mid-layer, ideally with hood [example]
- One down puffy jacket or similar, ideally with hood [example]
- Waterproof jacket and pants (the Lost Coast receives more rain than anywhere else in on the Continental US - we'll likely use them) [example]
- Warm hat [example]
- Lightweight gloves [example]
UNDIES & BASE LAYERS
- Three pairs socks (two pairs thin wool/synthetic for hiking, one pair thick wool/synthetic for nighttime)
- One or two pairs underwear
- One or two sportsbras
- A clean set of clothes to change into for the drive home! You'll leave these in the car so they're waiting for you when we leave.
Click here for the Lost Coast weather forecast as we approach our trip. It's the rainiest place in the Continental United States, so don't be surprised if there's precipitation in the forecast.
Leave No Trace
Trail Mavens is committed to following and teaching Leave No Trace principles. To get you started, watch this video on LNT Outdoor Ethics from the National Parks Service.
Trail Mavens often enjoy wine or whiskey together in the evenings. Participation in drinking is welcome but of course not mandatory. We ask that Trail Mavens leave recreational drugs at home. If you’re a smoker, please be respectful and partake in a manner that doesn’t bother other group members, and adheres to Leave No Trace principles.
This is an internet-free weekend (plus, we won’t have cell service)! If you’d like to share your pics on social media, go for it, but only after we get backhome. Then, feel free to go crazy tagging @trailmavens on Instagram or Twitter.
Trail Mavens provides its adventurers with $800-1000 of fantastic backpacking gear. Read on for a couple tips on how to keep gear in fantastic condition:
Your tent is your home for the weekend, so you want to keep it clean and tidy! Keep the door zipped shut unless you’re getting in or out. Consume only water inside your tent to keep it scent-free, and store anything smelly, including toiletries, in a bear canister. High-end tent fabric is very delicate; keep shoes and anything else dirty or sharp outside.
Set up your sleeping bag inside your tent to keep both your bag and your tent clean.
Our pads are inflatable, meaning they’re a) quite comfortable and b) can pop if they meet a sharp rock. Be sure to unpack, inflate, deflate, and pack your pad inside your tent, away from anything sharp. This will ensure a comfortable night of sleep for you and a clean tent.
Make sure to remove all food, trash, and scented items from your pack as soon as we arrive at our campsite.
FITNESS & elevation
This is a very rigorous trip. Whether this is your first or fortieth backpacking trip, here are a few tips to make sure you're prepared mentally and physically to backpack on the Lost Coast:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We dehydrate more quickly at altitude. While most of our trip will happen at sea level, we'll start our first day between 2000-3000'. Start off on the right foot by drinking a lot of water starting the day before your trip, and thinking about drinking even more than you would ordinarily while out on the trail.
- If you've never been backpacking before, consider going on a few training hikes carrying a heavier pack before our adventure. You'll be carrying 30-35 lbs. on your back, and it's good to know what that feels like!
- Stream crossings are a certainty on this trip, as is tree fall hopping and hacking our way through some overgrowth on the trails (they don't call it the Lost Coast for nothing!).