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 right next to the beach in true backcountry campsites! 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 Day 1, breakfast, lunch & dinner on Day 2 (and Day 3 for 4-day trips), and breakfast & lunch on the final day will be provided. The group will share in cooking and cleanup responsibilities. Please arrive on Day 1 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.
Don't be deceived into thinking beach hiking is easy! The terrain ranges from soft sand to wobbly, bowling-ball sized rocks. 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.
The following are our anticipated itineraries (your actual itinerary may change based on tides and group hiking speed):
May & June 2019 trips
3 days, 2 nights: out-and-back to Buck Creek
Day One: 5.1 total miles from our cars at Black Sands Beach Trailhead to Buck Creek. We'll climb 396' over the course of this hike along the beach. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
Day Two: 6.8 total miles from Buck Creek to Saddle Mountain. We'll ascend a whopping 3150' over 3.5 miles, basking in the glorious views, until we hit the summit of Saddle Mountain. Then we'll head back down for a much-deserved happy hour. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
Day Three: 5.1 total miles from Buck Creek to our cars at Black Sands Beach trailhead, all on the beach.
3 days, 2 nights: point-to-point from Mattole to Black Sands Beach
Day One: After taking a shuttle from Black Sands Beach (where we'll leave our cars), we'll hike 6.5 total miles from Mattole to our first night's camp at Cooskie Creek. We'll climb 340' over the course of this hike along the beach. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
Day Two: 10 total miles from Cooskie Creek to Big Flat Creek, gaining 312' in elevation. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
Day Three: 8.5 total miles from Big Flat Creek to our cars at Black Sands Beach trailhead, gain 638' in elevation. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
4 days, 3 nights: point-to-point from Mattole to Black Sands Beach
Day One: After taking a shuttle from Black Sands Beach (where we'll leave our cars), we'll hike 2.5 total miles from Mattole to our first night's camp at Punta Gorda. We'll climb 123' over the course of this hike along the beach. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
Day Two: 9.6 total miles from Punta Gorda to Kinsey Creek, gaining 395' in elevation. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
Day Three: 4.7 total miles from Kinsey Creek to Miller Flat, gaining 156' in elevation. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
Day Four: 8.5 total miles from Miller Flat back to our cars at Black Sands Beach, gaining 638' in elevation. Click here for a distance/elevation profile.
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, and lip balm. 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 the following items.
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)
Health insurance card & ID
Tampons/pads/Diva Cup as needed
Glasses/contacts with solution
Previous Field Notes (Trail Mavens alumnae only)
Small day pack (out-and-back trips to Buck Creek only)
Optional: hiking poles, small pillow, earplugs, camera, bandana or Buff to keep sun off your neck
Sleeping bag rated at 30° or colder
Headlamp with fresh batteries/spares
60L backpack (or larger) with rain fly
Backpacking bowl, mug, and spork (lightweight plastic is best, like a tupperware container with a lid. No glass/ceramic bowls or mugs!)
Sleeping bag liner (if borrowing a Trail Mavens sleeping bag)
Personal clothing (see below)
Sturdy, broken-in hiking boots with ankle support (waterproof boots if rain is in the forecast; NO trail runners or sneakers)
Lightweight shoes/sandals for hanging out at our campsite that can be worn with socks (like Crocs/Tevas/Chacos rather than flip-flops)
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 long, breathable pants 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 sports bras
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.
Weather & Conditional Packing
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.
Since everybody is different, it’s up to YOU to check out the weather forecast and judge your personal comfort levels, and plan accordingly! Please use your own judgement when packing: if you’re always cold, pack heavier extra layers (i.e., leggings to go under pants).
PACKING FOR RAIN
Except in the most extreme cases, we run trips rain or shine! If rain or snow is in the forecast, here's what you should be bringing in addition to the items in the packing list above:
Waterproof rain jacket (you should bring this on every trip regardless of forecast)
Waterproof rain pants
Waterproof hiking boots (tennis shoes or trail runners should NOT be worn on rainy trips)
Three pairs of wool socks (one pair on your feet, one pair that's dry and ready to change into, and one pair that might be drying off from an earlier hike)
Rain cover for your backpack, if you have one (we'll provide trash bags for anyone who doesn't have a cover, but the real deal is always best)
As much wool, synthetic fleece, or down layers as possible, and as little cotton as possible (cotton won't keep you dry or warm enough in rainy weather)
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.
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! 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 and boulder scrambling are a certainty on this trip, and for the May/September itinerary, so is tree-fall hopping and hacking our way through some overgrowth on the trails (they don't call it the Lost Coast for nothing!).