This trail may be approached from 3 main entry points: at the top of the King Range National Conservation Area, at the middle between the King Range and Sinkyone Wilderness (Needle Rock), or at the southern end of the Sinkyone Wilderness at Usal Campground.
To start at the southern portion, exit on Usal Rd off Highway 1 (this exit is unmarked, use the Hiking Project mobile app
). This is located about 20 miles west of Leggett, CA. Once you get to the exit, it takes about 45 minutes to drive the 6 miles to Usal Campground. The dirt road is a single lane that can be extremely steep in places. 4WD may be necessary during some parts of the year so call the local ranger station to check road status before heading out. Be sure that your reverse driving skills are sharp because you may have to drive backwards along this road for a small stretch due to oncoming traffic.
Once at the campsite, pay the $5/night parking fee and start heading along Usal Rd to the north. You'll see a very distinct single-path trail that heads into the Redwoods and up a hillside. There used to be typical trail sign here, but it has since been replaced.
Right from the get go, this trail starts off with a good dose of switchbacks and incline. It stays this way for the first mile or so, and then you reach a clearing where you can see Usal Beach down below. From here, its more incline as you climb the mountains that overlook the southern end of The Lost Coast.
Little Jackass Creek is about 7 miles away from Usal. In those 7 miles, you'll cross 3 different creeks (one of which has a small primitive campsite; Anderson Camp). Each one of these has running water in case you need to replenish your water. Every time you cross these creeks, you can expect anywhere from 800-1200 feet in elevation change. There will be some flat portion in between those changes for you to catch your breath.
There are many tall ferns, trees, and other plants that overhang the trail the whole time. Keep an eye out for wildlife as well. On this trip, I encountered one ginormous elk, 2 black bears, 2 does, a handful of lizards, and a couple of ticks (one of which left me with a nice bullseye ring, which is most likely onset Lyme disease, so use caution with these guys!).
Make sure you stretch, have plenty of water, eat a big breakfast, have trekking poles handy, and have a big memory card for your camera because this trail demands it. There are so many amazing views once you reach the flat areas of the trail.
Coastal shrubs and bushes, tall redwoods and other trees, mushrooms, ferns.