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Explore the Rugged Allure of California’s Lost Coast

Explore the Rugged Allure of California’s Lost Coast

Join the New York Times on a family-friendly adventure through a remote and beautiful stretch of the North Coast

Posted 4 years agoby Jessica Sebor

The Lost Coast earned its evocative nickname when the section of land between the tiny towns of Rockport and Ferndale was deemed impenetrable by builders of California’s Highway 1. The gorgeous 100 miles of coastline remains sparsely populated with little cell phone service—which is exactly what New York Times travel writer Elaine Glusac was searching for when planning an unplugged family trip. In her recent article, Glusac takes readers through a multi-day adventure, providing tips for navigating this “destination for lovers of isolation.”

Getting there is half the fun

A mere 225 miles north of San Francisco, the Lost Coast is only accessible through what Glusac calls “adventure drives.” Twenty miles may well take an hour-plus behind the wheel. During a drive to a popular trailhead, the writer recalls, “A series of determined roads ascended pine-dense hillsides, undulated over mountain passes of wildflower meadows and tunneled through trees, only to descend and make the climb all over again.”


Stay lost


Glusac chose the town of Shelter Cove as her home base, booking one of the eight rooms at the Tides Inn. The nautically-themed hotel “perched above a cove and hugged by rocky arms, exceeded our expectations,” says Glusac. “From our third-floor balcony, we could hear sea lions barking each morning and watch sunsets late each evening.”

Hikes with backcountry beauty


The natural beauty of the area means hiking is a must. For many backcountry travelers, the 25-mile Lost Coast Trail is the primary draw, but Glusac’s family opted for shorter day treks. Highlights included an out-and-back hike through the main trail’s southern section where the Glusacs “combed the high-tide line, finding patterned sea urchin shells, sun-bleached sea stars, driftwood sanded by waves and the occasional crab trap.” The northern section offered a gateway to wildflower fields where “a deer grazed a hillside and sea lion on offshore rocks barked at our approach.”

Local seafood and beer


As far as restaurants are concerned, the pickings are slim but surprisingly delicious. Glusac recommends Gyppo Ale Mill in Shelter Cove for micro-brewed IPAs and thoughtful pub food in a stunning setting. For exceptional seafood, try Mi Mochima where Glusac’s family gorged on “mini fish empanadas, garlic-sautéed prawns, and a hearty shredded beef stew known as pabellón criollo.”

Read the full New York Times article and check out more ways to get lost along the California coastline through our hidden beaches road trip and roundup of epic outdoor adventures across the state. 


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