California, Camper Trips

Mattole Campground on the Lost Coast

May 1-3, 2019

For our second FWC trip, we decided to head north to the Lost Coast. While the road was long and bumpy, the campsite was worth it! After arriving and setting up camp, we took Henri for a walk along the beach to check out where the river meets the ocean. We gathered fire wood (there was plenty around) to make a bonfire to keep ourselves warm that night. We then set up our camping chairs on the sand dunes with a glass of wine to watch the sunset and were pleasantly surprised when we spotted plumes from whales in the distance. Luckily we had brought out binoculars so were able to sit back and enjoy the show!

On the second day, we attempted to hike to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse. I say attempted because Henri decided that he did not care for the sand (the sand grains are coarser than regular sand) which kept getting between his toes. So he eventually laid down and made Chris carry him back to the dirt trail. Our camp neighbors did make it to the lighthouse and highly recommended the hike; sharing that they spotted many sea lions out there.

Trip Logistics:

We took the 101-N from the Bay Area (about 5 hours). We made a pit stop in Willits for gas and grub (Mariposa Market is a great little organic market with a delicious deli). The 101 was an easy drive, but once you turn off on Garberville (passing Redway, Briceland, Ettersburg, and Honeydew), it becomes quite a bumpy drive (it is a gravel road with dappled light which makes potholes hard to spot).

The campground itself was wonderful, right next to the beach. This is a primitive campground with vault toilets, no running water, and trash/recycling. The sites are not at all private but since it was not very busy, we felt like we were on a desolate beach all to ourselves. There is an $8 fee per night (cash or check made out to BLM); when we went there were no envelopes left.

Challenges about this site: (1) the wind – it shook our camper back and forth for hours, (2) the bugs – when the wind finally died down, the bugs swarmed, making it uncomfortable to sit around (or lay around if you are Henri) or eat meals, and (3) be careful which pieces of firewood you chose because on our second night, we chose a piece that, when burned, smelled awful!

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