Lost Coast: Needle Rock to Wheeler – 2016

The Lost Coast is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.

I absolutely don’t recommend trying to do this trip on a three day weekend from LA but that is exactly what we did. We left Friday when we got off of work, drove 700 miles through the night, and started the hike Saturday morning. Driving 1400 miles in a weekend is not something many would consider a good time but it was without a doubt worth it.

TRIP: Duration 2-3h (each leg), Distance  9 mi (total)
Seeing as it was the middle of February, we didn’t dare to do the northern half of the Lost Coast trail, some of which is inaccessible at high tide, so we left from the Needle Rock Visitors center and hiked the first leg to Bear Harbor. This is a very popular backpacking destination in spring and summer because of the cool coastal climate but I recommend visiting in the winter as long as the weather looks good. The hike is very easy and traverses a fire road most, if not all, of the way from the visitors center to Bear Harbor. The second leg of the hike is a little more challenging as the trail undulates along the jagged coast but is not difficult. We yo-yo hiked the trip so we had to hike both legs on the way back which was a little much but only because we also drove straight home to get back for work on Tuesday morning. There are several shuttle services operating in the area so that you can get picked up and taken back to your car if you just want to hike though. The shuttles are pretty expensive and probably only worth it if you plan to split the cost between a full shuttle’s worth of people. It would be cheaper to take two cars if someone is willing to leave their car at the end to shuttle everyone back to beginning.
If you backpack and live in California this is a MUST-DO trip. Seriously, put the whole trail on your bucket list. We were fortunate enough to happen upon a herd of Roosevelt Elk during our trip which was an amazing experience. They are beautiful animals. The Lost Coast offers breath taking vistas and an abundance of wildlife to enjoy. We were seriously sad to leave the area. I’m sure we will be back to hike some of the northern section of the trail, possibly even later this year.


  • Read the rules.
  • Hike north to south if thru-hiking.
  • Try visiting in winter to do the southern half.
  • Watch out for ticks and poison oak. (Long sleeve / pants)
  • Give yourself enough time to enjoy the trip.
  • I wont tell you where but there are a couple of secluded campsites at Wheeler.

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Places: Lost Coast, King Range, Needle Rock Visitors Center, Bear Harbor, Wheeler