What to Do
Bird-lovers flock to Ferndale's 105-acre Russ Park to seek out hummingbirds, grosbeaks, and warblers among a canopy of Sitka spruce and fir trees, while beachcombers head to Centerville Beach County Park—five miles west of town—keeping an eye out for migrating gray whales during spring and fall.
Embark on an oh-so-scenic (albeit sometimes harrowing) drive along Mattole Road, suitably dubbed "the wildcat." Winding south from Ferndale, the road travels through forested coastal mountains and rolling farmlands before dropping down to the Pacific at Cape Mendocino—California's westernmost point—for spectacular ocean views. Mattole Road continues south where you can stop in Petrolia—a small town that gets its name from being the site of California's first drilled oil well—before continuing on to Honeydew.
Hiking and Biking
The Lost Coast's remote terrain makes for some exquisite hiking and mountain biking opportunities, most notably within the 68,000-acre King Range National Conservation Area. The Douglas fir–covered peaks tower upwards of 4,000 feet and stretch 35 miles along the Pacific, from Mendocino County's Sinkyone Wilderness State Park north to the mouth of the Mattole River. King Range’s more than 70 miles of hiking trails traverse cliff sides, twist-and-turn among chaparral and grasslands, and meander along beaches.
The area's most iconic hike is along the Lost Coast Trail, a 24.6-mile trek from Black Sands Beach north to Mattole Beach. Plan a few days to complete the mostly level tramp, which journeys along beaches (watch for rogue waves and high tides) and across boulders, and is surrounded by vibrant wildflower displays during spring. Sea lions and black bears sometimes visit.
Day hikes include the 4.2-mile (one way) Horse Mountain Creek Trail, connecting the King Range mountains and the beach with a 1,700-foot descent; and the aptly-named Lighting Trail, a 2.6-mile (one way), 1,900-foot climb to the top of King Peak through old-coast forests, resulting in remarkable ocean and mountain views.
The Punta Gorda Lighthouse Trail offers a moderate 2.7-mile (one way) path that stems off the Lost Coast Trail near Petrolia and ends at the Punta Gorda Lighthouse—a deactivated beacon known as the Alcatraz of Lighthouses, due to its relative inaccessibility.
For mountain bikers, King Range's Paradise Royale offers a 23-mile system of trails that winds through backcountry, crossing forested ridges and descending into verdant river valleys with various levels of difficulty.