California Lost Coast


Dangerous, yes, but mainly to himself
Never been on the Redway/Shelter Cove road but I rode the Ferndale/Petrolia/Honeydew/Humboldt SP loop on a touring bicycle in 2019. In fact my profile pic is me strumming away while beach camping off Mattole Road. Mattole has a few VERY steep sections, a few sections that had been washed out and repaired with gravel (unpaved as of August 2019) and a LOT of potholes. But someone had spray-painted large penises around the worst of them, which was...helpful lol. While riding we were passed by a rally group driving an array of low-slung sports cars, so ground clearance isn't an issue on that road. It's a very beautiful part of the country; I plan to take the Sprinter there soon.

Mattole beach camp.jpg


Well-known member
I (also OP) was there 10 days ago for one night but then bailed to the coast. I spent that one night at Tolkan campground which was empty and quite dirty. I guess people want to go camping but don't want to use the outhouses due to the pandemic... On top of that campfires and the use of camp stoves was forbidden. Next day I visited Shelter Cove which looks quite abandoned. Every business except for the charmless campground by the lighthouse was closed. Many for sale signs. I was pretty disappointed with the place. Beautiful coast and forest but everything touched by humans was dumpy.

Pretty much everything in Humboldt county was close (state parks, BLM) except for KOA-like places. So I ended up at Westport by the coast (Mednocino county) which is not a bad place to hang for a couple of days. Campfires permitted. The trip did not exactly scratch my adventure/nature/camping itch but the van did great. The new LIFEPO4 battery boiled by coffee water with aplomb (electric kettle) when my stove was forbidden. The new fridge slide slid. And the new speakers spoke without distortion. The road to the first night's campground was a lot worse than anything I have driven in Alaska and the van didn't mind. So, in the end it was a useful little trip. MPG 25+, less than a quart of DEF for about 700 miles.


My son took me on a the Pacific Coast Bike Route in 2009 during the financial downturn. Humboldt County was pretty much closed up as nobody was traveling that October. Your gorgeous sunset elicits happy memories. 800 miles in 14 days with at least a quart of beer each night for recovery.


Dangerous, yes, but mainly to himself
Yes it's a fabulous route isn't it? My brother and I rode from Eugene to San Francisco in 15 days, about 750 miles. The Lost Coast detour was far and away the most difficult stretch - from Ferndale the road gains (and loses!) about 8000' of elevation in 40 miles. As it happens that trip was the catalyst for getting a Sprinter. Wifey doesn't cycle but she didn't like me being gone so long either. Solution: Sprinter camper van. Now I can get up early and start pedaling while she sleeps in, has a leisurely breakfast, and catches up with me down the road. Life is full of compromises. :)

Another shot of Mattole Road and Black Sand beach. That's my brother in the foreground; I was the lunkhead pulling a trailer with a guitar in it. I lived in the granny gear up those hills...



'05 Snow Camper, '17 170 4x4, Adventure Vissionary
Best place I’ve ever broke down was in Shelter Cove! Had a nice mountain bike ride up on the ridge, went down the very steep road to SC.. split a bottle of wine with me lady and had a pizza, watched the whales circle for a couple hours.. got in the camper to head up the grade... and suddenly the motor was running very rough and I was billowing black smoke out the back. Retreated down the hill to where we were watching the whales, did some investigative work, determined I had a stuck open injector! Two days later the injector arrived, swapped it out, and away we went.

very little of anything going on there during the week, definitely no Mercedes shops down there with parts.. big surprise! Can’t wait to get out there again!


Active member
I drove the Redway-Shelter Cove route in 2009 in my overloaded Aistream B190 (Ford E-350 stretch van conversion with high top). Downhill in the dark. Had no idea, I was just in the process of moving to NorCal and taking the scenic route. It was tight and slow, but doable. Went back to that part of the coast many times while I lived there, the airstrip was fun to fly in to.

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