I woke up to the early morning light. Outside our tent the air was thick with fog and heavy with moisture. Large drops of condensation clung to our rain fly, and everything that wasn’t covered was damp.
Time: 3 hours
Elevation gain: 120 ft
When to go: Year-round
We refilled our water bottles in the creek at the bottom of Sea Lion Gulch, then started down the beach. This section of the Lost Coast is notable for the bowling ball-sized boulders. We had to pick our steps slowly and carefully, making progress slow.
Half a mile down the coast, the trail heads overland. The distant balancing rock you see in the photo below is the visual cue: this point is impassable at all tide levels. Turn inland up the wash and look up the hill for signs of a trail.
The sign for this overland detour is easy to miss. It’s high on the bluff, perched on a rock. As you’re hiking down the beach, you’ll find that the rocks and the water seem to be squeeze out the beach. Look for that balancing rock and then find the overland detour.
We headed into the gully and found the trail as it detoured around the point.
The sign for the LCT detour sits high on the bluff, well away from the beach.
This rocky spine marked the high point of the overland detour, which offered sweeping views of the coastline in both directions.
On the downhill side of the detour are the remains of another old cabin and a junction with the Cooskie Creek Spur trail. This junction is tricky, as the sign for the LCT is on the opposite side of the post — pointing in a non-obvious direction.
This minimalist approach to trail signage is a recurring theme on the Lost Coast. I had a conversation with one of the rangers who explained that it is quite intentional. The theory is that this land is wilderness, and they have attempted to keep the human touch light. I like that approach, but it means you’ll have to use your navigation smarts to keep yourself on the right trail. When you see a sign or even a trace of a junction, pause for a moment and look around. Make sure you’ve taken the right fork in the trail.
This cabin has seen better days, but just imagine the view someone once enjoyed. Actually, you don’t have to imagine. Hike the Lost Coast Trail and this view can be yours.
Back down on the beach, we picked our way among the cobbled stone and coarse black sand, around the rocks and ahead of the waves. Beach hiking here is tough and slow. By this time the sun had burned off all the fog and morning haze, and it while the breezes were still cool, we were working up a sweat.
At mile 5 we reached Randall Creek, which marks the north end of Spanish Flat. This grassy terrace gave us a welcome break from the tough beach hiking. Hiking on solid earth is bliss! We stopped here for lunch and setup our fly for some shade.
Just two easy miles later, we stopped to camp just south of Spanish Creek. We had the beach entirely to ourselves, and the time to enjoy it. We kicked our boots off and even took a little nap on the black sand beach. There were no emails or text messages to reply to. There were no updates to post. Just two people enjoying the sun on the Lost Coast.
Lost Coast Trail: Day Two Map
Day Two on the Lost Coast: Photo Gallery
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Shelter Cove Weather Forecast
Chance of Rain55°/45°
Come back tomorrow for Day 3 on the Lost Coast Trail!