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Adventure Guide:
California's Lost Ghost
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ADVENTURE GUIDE: Lost Coast, California
Text by Dan Duane   Map by Dave Stevenson

Photo GallerySurfing California's Lost Coast 

Adventure Travel in California

Eighty miles (129 kilometers) of wilderness shoreline is more than enough to hide a secret surf break or two—not to mention beachside campsites and miles of stunning hiking trails. Find them if you can.

Map: California's Lost Coast

SURFING: Ghost Point wouldn't be Ghost Point if we told you how to get there—or even what it's really called. But if you must go looking, remember a few things: The best waves arrive in fall or even winter, when the swells run down from the Gulf of Alaska.

Come with a hefty supply of patience: You're just as likely to score clean, user-friendly groundswell as scary, behemoth-size waves.

Get a tide chart before you start hiking. Several sections of the coast are impassable at high tide. Watch for rattlesnakes in driftwood and in rocky areas. Oh, and FYI, autumn is high season for great white sharks.

HIKING: Both the King Range National Conservation Area ( and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park ( offer top-notch coastal hiking. In the King Range, the 25-mile (40-kilometers) Lost Coast Trail leads along the water from the Mattole Trailhead to Black Sands Beach. Sinkyone's 11 miles (18 kilometers) of wilderness beach have 31 free hike-in campsites, perfect for an overnight stay. Usually hikers arrive in mid and late summer, when the weather is at its most stable.

GETTING THERE: About 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of San Francisco, the Lost Coast is accessible from U.S. Route 101 at Garberville and Ferndale. Caution: The roads to the coast are rough.

LODGING AND CAMPING: For backcountry regulations and free campfire and wilderness permits, check the King Range and Sinkyone Web sites. If camping on the beach, bear canisters are required; hanging your food is not allowed.

The 14 basic sites at the Mattole Campground ($8; +1 707 986 5400) sit right on the beach at the north end of the King Range.  For a bed (and not much more), try the Sherwood Forest Motel ($60; +1 707 923 2721), in Garberville. 

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Adventure's September 2006 issue features 31 amazing adventure towns; chaos at the top of Mount Everest; an inside look at surfing California's Lost Coast; 11 fall weekend getaways near you; the best high-tech footwear, world class adventure travel; hiking the Alps, and more!

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