Lost Coast Romance

Shelter Cove to Hidden Valley Trailhead
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In the King Range National Conservation Area.
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The outpost town of Shelter Cove occupies a marine terrace at Point Delgada in the heart of the Lost Coast. This protruding promontory marks a dividing line between the two very different halves of California's Lost Coast. Most of the Lost Coast to the north offers long stretches of beach or headlands where one can follow the shore. To the south however, the Lost Coast becomes more precipitous with occasional pocket beaches separated by steep cliffs where one simply cannot walk along the shore because no level ground is available.

Both halves of the Lost Coast offer some of California's most spectacular coastal scenery. To reach the southern half of the Lost Coast from Shelter Cove however, the California Coastal Trail (CCT) must turn inland to bypass the two places called Point No Pass south of Shelter Cove in order to find a canyon that penetrates this hidden coastal wonderland. So this section of the Coastal Trail follows paved roads inland for 4-3/8 miles until it finds a canyon with a trail where CCT returns to a wilderness setting and follows the coast south.

Wet your bandanna in the creek, put on your road walking shoes, and climb east along Beach Road for 1-1/8 miles to its end at Shelter Cove Road, elevation 480 feet. Turn left and walk the shoulder of the steep, winding, busy road. At 1-7/8 miles you meet Toth Road on your right, elevation 920 feet. For a route with almost no traffic, but one mile longer and a summit 80 feet higher, turn right and ascend Toth Road to its summit at 4-1/8 miles, 2040 feet, then descend to Shelter Cove Road opposite Kings Peak Road at 4-5/8 miles.

Shelter Cove Road climbs from its first junction with Toth Road, passing the Shelter Cove General Store on the right at 2-1/8 miles, 1080 feet. Shelter Cove Road continues ascending, soon leaving views of the coast to the south. By 3 miles you've climbed to 1600 feet. Your ascent continues to 3-5/8 miles where you meet unpaved Kings Peak Road on the left and paved Toth Road on the right, elevation 1960 feet. CCT's Kings Crest high route rejoins CCT here.

Descend southeast on Shelter Cove Road for 1/2 mile to Chemise Mountain Road on the right before 4-1/8 miles. Turn right and walk Chemise Mountain Road 1/4 mile, then turn right to Hidden Valley Trailhead.

Alternate Route: You can walk the beach south from Black Sands Beach Trailhead 5/8 mile to the first high rocky point. Walk east from there on a steep paved road that climbs to Upper Pacific Drive. To see the rest of the Shelter Cove coast, ascend Beach Road briefly then go right on Humboldt Loop Road to Upper Pacific Drive at 1-1/4 mile. Go right on Upper Pacific, then right again on Albatross Road beyond 1-3/8 mile. At 1-5/8 miles go right on Lower Pacific Drive. At 2 miles Abalone Point coastal access is on the right. Around 2-1/4 miles you pass Sea Rock Picnic Area and coastal access. Lower Pacific Drive continues past the airport to Point Delgada at 2-7/8 miles where a stairway from Mal Coombs Park provides coastal access to Point Delgada. The road continues to Shelter Cove Campground and Store on the left at 3 miles. On the right you can park and descend the boat launch road to the main cove at Shelter Cove where you can walk about 1-1/2 miles east and south along the beach before you meet Point No Pass North, an impassable point.

Suggested Round Trips & Loops: Consider the choices in Alternate Route.

How to Improve CCT Here: Develop an off-road trail corridor that connects with the Hidden Valley-Chemise Mountain Trail. For example, a trail could start between the summit and the east end of Toth Road and contour east around the top of the McKee Creek watershed to meet the saddle west of Hidden Valley.

Distance: 4-3/8 miles (7 kilometers).

Open To: Hikers, bicyclists.

Surface: Road shoulder.

Access Point: Black Sands Beach.

How to Get There: Leave Highway 101 at Garberville from the south (Milepost 10.8) or Redway from the north (Milepost 14.6).Take Redwood Drive to Redway, then Briceland Road/Shelter Cove Road west 21 miles. (From 17 miles you follow CCT which uses the road here.) As you descend to Shelter Cove, take the third right, Beach Road (signed "Black Sands Beach") and follow it 1.1 miles to trailhead.

Other Access: Anywhere along route.

Difficulty: Strenuous.

Elevation Gain/Loss: 2460 feet+/260 feet-.

Cautions: Watch for traffic on the steep, winding Shelter Cove Road.

Further Information: Shelter Cove Information Bureau (707)986-7069.

Facilities: Chemical toilet at trailhead. Phone at Shelter Cove General Store at 2-1/8 miles.

Campgrounds: Shelter Cove RV Park and Campground is 2 miles south of starting point. Nadelos (BLM) Campground is 1.4 miles south of south end.

Lodging: Shelter Cove has Beachcomber Inn and other lodgings.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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