January 11, 2017 at 8:50 pm #3223Team YOLO !Keymaster
When it comes to backpacking the 24.6 mile (39.6 km) North Coast Trail, planning is fundamental.
Before embarking on a self-guided backpacking adventure in this coastal paradise, you should:
Reserve a wilderness permit for your desired dates.
All backpackers are required to reserve a wilderness permit in advance before venturing overnight into the Kings Range Wilderness. Permits are $6 and reservable online a year in advance.
Order or download a detailed, color trail map.
Study the NOAA tide prediction table for the Shelter Cove area for the dates you plan to hike the trail.
There are three stretches where the trail are impassable at high tide and you should hike them when high tide is receding:
– near Punta Gorda
– Sea Lion Gulch to Randall Creek
– Miller Flat to Gitchell Creek
View these impassable zones on a trail map.
Map out a multi-day hiking itinerary based on:
- the tide table;
- the number of miles or kilometers you can realistically backpack each day; and
- where you will camp each night.
Plan to start at Mattole Beach and hike south to Black Sands Beach (by the town of Shelter Cove) so the coast’s strong winds will be at your back.
Also, it is best to camp at sites where people have camped before. This tends to be near streams and inland from the beach (which is especially windy at night).
Good places to camp include Cooskie Creek, Randall Creek, Spanish Creek, Kinsey Creek, Big Creek, Big Flat, Shipman Creek, Buck Creek, Gitchell Creek and Horse Mountain Creek.
As soon as you have finalized your dates, schedule a local shuttle to pick you up at Black Sands Beach (where you can leave your car for free) then drive you approximately 2 hours north to the Mattole Beach trailhead.
Shuttle service is pricey, starting at $200 for 2 people, but it is a huge time saver. Otherwise, your travel party will need two vehicles, one you can leave at Black Sands, the other at Mattole. Then, after your hike, you will have to drive approximately 2 hours to Mattole Beach to retrieve the second car.
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