First Time on the Lost Coast

Sometimes when we are traveling people casually mention a nice place to visit and generally I add it to our list and check it out if time allows.  Sometimes the recommendation is a nice way to spend the day but other times, like today, I am completely blown away by the experience.  People who live in an area may take the beauty that surrounds them for granted (I know we got somewhat blase about the amazing New England fall foliage), but as a first time experiencing it, it can be magical.  After the long day on Thanksgiving Lee and I decided to visit Kings Range, which is a large chunk of BLM land along the “lost coast”.  Since I didn’t want to be anywhere near the Black Friday madness, I chose the less visited Northern Acesss for the trip.  I told Helen we weren’t sure if we would get back by 4pm, but she said we had done plenty and to enjoy the day.  The recommended way to get to the Mattole beach access site is to take 101 to Ferndale and travel Mattole Road from there.  It takes about 1-1/2 hours to travel 40 miles and a full tank of gas is a necessity as there are limited services.  We decided to take the road less traveled, however, and took Mattole road all the way from Humboldt State Park.  Well sometimes the road less traveled has a ton of potholes! Absolutely not recommended for RV’s or lightweight cars, the road takes you around Cooskie mountain.  I wouldn’t have minded the bumps so much if we could see, but since it is a back country road the views were few and far between.  We did stop at the apex of the drive though and got a great views as the Mountain of Mercy Mission Farm (which I later learned is a faith-based agency to help teens with substance abuse) had cleared some land.

We climged down a steep incline to get this view

We climbed down a steep incline to get this view

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Aside from these views though it was a rough hours and I definitely don’t recommend this way when the alternative is so spectacular, but I will get to that in a bit.  When we finally left the wood we did get to see some little farms and then suddenly we were at the coast.  It really doesn’t look like much until you get there, but park the car and a short walk on the beach and wow!!  The views were absolutely breathtaking and I loved the huge pieces of driftwood on the beach.  Plus there were rocks in the water, tons of seabirds, and an estuary leading into the ocean.  They even had a little campground for $8 a nice and they allow people to tent camp on the beach.  Absolutely amazing and what a find, but let me show you the pictures. These are roughly in the order we experienced it.

Little campground

Little campground

The hills ended and the beach started

The hills ended and the beach started

And there were cows grazing on the hills behind the beacj

And there were cows grazing on the hills behind the beach

Then you crossed the dunes and this is what you saw

Then you crossed the dunes and this is what you saw

A driftwood "house" a family was having lunch in

A driftwood “house” a family was having lunch in

Huge trunks of trees as driftwood

Huge trunks of trees as driftwood

The beach was all rounded stones. I got 3 rocks for my collection

The beach was all rounded stones. I got 3 rocks for my collection

Lee picked me up this beautiful piece of redwood driftwood

Lee picked me up this beautiful piece of redwood driftwood

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As if the beach and driftwood weren’t pretty enough, there were several rocks formations that were beautiful with the waves crashing around them and birds everywhere around the rocks looking for fish.  I saw several new species of gull and tons of brown pelicans.  You seriously could not take a bad picture.

These Pelagic Cormorants are a new one for me

These Pelagic Cormorants are a new one for me

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California Gull, Lost Coast, CA

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Five pelicans circling the rock looking for fish

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So you would think this would be enough, and it certainly would have been, but we decided to take a little road we saw and see if it led to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse.  Our map didn’t show the road, but it wasn’t posted as private so we gave it a shot.  IT was a dirt BLM road and took us up on the hill where we had the most amazing vistas.  And since it was on BLM land and wasn’t near anything Lee got to use his drone!!!  WE stopped in two different places and took pictures and drone footage and it got some terrific shots.  My pictures are below and I am linking a You Tube clip of a portion of his footage so you can see how beautiful it was and how good Lee is doing with the drone!

I walked down to the outcropping at the bottom and took some pictures

I walked down to the outcropping at the bottom and took some pictures

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The estuary is the water right before the ocean and had tons of birds in it

Lee prepping his drone

Lee prepping his drone

Lee flying his drone

Lee flying his drone

And here’s the link to Lee’s drone footage because a stationary picture simply does not do the view justice!!  It’s short, only two minutes.

Better view of the estuary

Better view of the estuary

I also loved the cows grazing on hillsides. Do you think their meat has a salty flavor??

I also loved the cows grazing on hillsides. Do you think their meat has a salty flavor??

Cow 04 was hanging out in the dirt road but moved out of the way on our way down

Cow 04 was hanging out in the dirt road but moved out of the way on our way down

Finally we started to head back because we weren’t sure how the “easier” route would be.  Although Matteole road is still rough in many areas, unlike the other direction the views are amazing.  We had ocean on one side and farmland on the other and so many hawks!!  We saw 8-9 of them hanging out by the road and I got the most beautiful pictures of a red-tailed hawk.  I was so excited because my new driving glasses were really helping me see better.  I even saw a mouse crossing the road at dusk which I could never have seen before.

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Look for the hawk wings in the brush

Look for the hawk in the brush

 

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Wouldn't you like to live on this farm?

Wouldn’t you like to live on this farm?

I was getting whiplash from looking back and forth so much and then the sun started to set.  We stopped on a hill to watch it and heard the barking of seals!!  So back down we went and found a spot.  Unfortunately the seals were too far away to see but Lee got some incredible shots of the sun setting.

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Where we heard the seals barking, but private land surronded it

Where we heard the seals barking, but private land surronded it

We stopped at this plaque which talked about the lighthouse that used to stand here

We stopped at this plaque which talked about the lighthouse that used to stand here

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This stood in the waters right outside of the plaque.

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What a perfect ending to a perfect day all the more special because it was unexpected.  Driving back we saw so many beautiful farms, rolling hills, and many views of the ocean like this one.

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10 thoughts on “First Time on the Lost Coast

  1. What great pictures. They are all so beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing it all with us. I look forward to the day when we can do that – 4 years plus and counting. We both can’t wait. Enjoy the rest of your week.

  2. Love it when things just are so unexpected and even more wonderful!!!

    The first rock in the ocean photo after the sea birds really looked like a Whale breaching… just an absolutely amazing day:o))

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