Now, after the first couple of days, I would have titled this post “Beautiful Scenery, and Things That Will Kill You,” but the trip got significantly more safe and comfortable as the days progressed. On June 18 we started our 5 day trek through the Lost Coast in Northern California that’s in the Kings Range National Conservation Area. We did not do the very popular coastal hike from Mattole to Shelter Cove, which is a 25 mile stretch of purely hiking along the water, mostly because we’re cheap and $200 for a shuttle was a little out there. Instead we did a 21 mile loop (ended up being closer to 30) starting at the Saddle Mountain Trailhead. On the map below, we followed the red trail from the Saddle Mtn Trailhead, to the top of Kings Peak, the highest peak in the range at 4,088ft, then to Miller Camp for the first night. We then went down Rattlesnake Ridge to Miller Flat for the next 2 nights, then hiked along the coast to Buck Creek for the 4th night. On the 5th day we hiked along a gruelingly steep trail up Buck Creek and back to the Saddle Mtn Trailhead. The red stars are were we camped. On the first day, we started off with high spirits and heavy packs. This was one of the longer backpacking trips we have been on, and with 5 days worth of supplies, food, and the mandatory bear boxes, our packs were probably the heaviest they have ever been. The drive to the trailhead was on a pretty gnarly dirt road, but we managed just fine in Katie’s Pontiac Vibe and made it to the trailhead no problem.
We summited King’s Peak the first day and had a lovely view from the top, all the way down to beach!
This portion of the trail was definitely less travelled than most and was nice and empty. We only saw 1 other group of hikers the whole day, which I thought was surprising for California. On the way to the summit, we had a fairly terrifying encounter in which we awoke a sleeping bear. We were both walking along and all of the sudden about 6 ft to our left a black bear stood up in the bushes looking very surprised! I ran over to Katie and grabbed the bear mace from her pack, but by the time I turned around to defend us from the bear, it had taken off in the opposite direction. This put us on edge the rest of the day (and trip), but we were prepared for it and nothing bad came of it! The initial hike was supposed to be about 6 miles, but due to missing the Maple Camp spot, we ended up with a much longer 9 mile hike to Miller Camp, not to mention a ton of elevation change. It made for a pretty hard and scary day, but still a very good one!
We awoke the next day at Miller Camp and had another long day ahead of us descending from Rattlesnake Ridge to Miller Flat. Katie is terrified of Rattlesnakes (and snakes in general) so I was leading the way keeping a look out for snakes. We did not see any rattlesnakes the whole day, but did see a plethora of smaller snakes, which I didn’t know what kind they were. The day ended up being about a 7 mile hike and close to 4000 ft of elevation drop. We were very thankful once we got to Big Flat Creek about 3/4 of the way down the trail and filled up our water and soldiered on. Our Steripen which we brought to purify water also chose this moment to quit working on us, so we ended up drinking the water unfiltered the rest of the trip. We did not get any Giardia or bugs we are aware of and the water was in pretty good condition because of where we were, but Katie wasn’t too happy to find out the Steripen had broken.
We made it down to Miller Flat fairly early with very sore legs and set up camp at a beautiful spot sheltered in the trees from the beach.
We took the rest of the day and relaxed reading books and playing games. The sunset was unbelievable and we were looking forward to spending the next day here too!
The next day we woke up very sore but feeling very refreshed. We had the whole day ahead of us to relax, enjoy ourselves, and celebrate the big surprise… We spent the morning reading on the beach and soaking up the sun as fellow hikers passed by and said hello. Then came the exciting news of the trip when we got engaged! I won’t go into it much since this is meant to be more about the trip, but it was a great day, she said yes, and now we have a wedding to plan!
We ate dinner on the beach that night and Katie spotted a whale, which she was ecstatic about. Then another gorgeous sunset came into view, which capped off the end to a perfect day!
On the 4th day, we had a short hike along the coast to get to Buck Creek for the night. We had a great time hiking along the coast, seeing lots of sea lions, shells, and birds. We left around 10AM, due to low tide being at noon, since the trail is impassable during high tide.
We made it to a cool little camp spot at the mouth of Buck Creek and enjoyed our last night on the coast!
On the final day we hiked out, which was a strenuous 4 miles and about 3,000 ft of elevation gain back to the car. It was great weather, and we were feeling well rested after having done very few miles the last couple of days. The final hike out capped off an amazing trip filled with lots of excitement, relaxation, and gorgeous scenery! I would highly recommend it to anyone, and though it was well travelled, also provided a decent amount of solitude.
- Distance: 24 miles (loop)
- 9 miles from Saddle Mountain Trailhead to Miller Camp
- 7 miles to Miller Flat
- 3.5 miles to Buck Creek
- 4.5 miles to Saddle Mountain Trailhead
- Elevation Gain: ~4,000 ft
- Kings Peak Elevation: 4,088 ft
- Our time: 5 days total
- My rating: Difficult, it was tough hiking!
- Their rating: Difficult
- Link to Trail info