It is imperative that you check the tides for your chosen dates to ensure the trail is passable prior to purchasing a permit. Please review the Tide Safety Guide , Tide Safety Video, Trip Planning Guide , and Map & Guide. King Range Wilderness Permits are for the entire King Range Wilderness, not only the Lost Coast Trail. As the permit holder, YOU are responsible for reading and understanding all information under each of the above tabs ("Need to Know", "Fees/Cancellations", etc.).
The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) King Range National Conservation Area (NCA) is a spectacular meeting of land and sea, as its mountains seem to thrust straight out of the surf, a precipitous rise rarely surpassed on the continental U.S. coastline. King Peak, the highest point at 4,088 feet, is only 3-miles from the ocean. The King Range NCA encompasses 68,000 acres along 35 miles of California's dramatic north coast. Here, the landscape was too rugged for highway building, forcing State Highway 1 inland. This remote region of mountains and seascapes is known as California's Lost Coast and is accessible only by a few back roads. It is the Nation's first National Conservation Area, designated in 1970. The King Range NCA's hardwood and Douglas fir-covered peaks attract hikers, hunters, and campers, while the coast beckons to surfers, anglers, and beachcombers. In 2006, the King Range Wilderness was designated and currently protects 42,694 acres of coastal wilderness and is home to the Lost Coast Trail, a secluded coastal trail that travels along beach and coastal bluffs.
Visitors planning to camp overnight anywhere in the King Range Wilderness must obtain a Wilderness Permit and will be asked to provide backcountry camping locations (for safety only), number of days in the wilderness, and entrance & exit trailheads.
Special Recreation Permits
Are you an organized group? school? scout troop? meetup group? hiking organization? commercial outfitter? shuttle driver? All organized and commercial groups visiting the King Range Wilderness must obtain a Special Recreation Permit (SRP) from the King Range Visitor Center. Wilderness permits obtained from Recreation.gov are NOT sufficient for these groups.
SRP Application Window: 10/1 through 1/31
SRP Season: 4/1 through 10/14
Be prepared to include a detailed trip itinerary including specific tide windows with your SRP application. SRP groups must follow approved itinerary exactly. No SRP groups will be allowed at Sea Lion Gulch, Randall Cr, Shipman Cr and Buck Cr between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends due to limited camping space. If your group cannot make it from Mattole to Cooskie Cr due to tides/impassable areas, consider south to north trek.
For more information or help planning your itinerary, call the King Range Project Office at (707) 986-5400.
FIRE RESTRICTIONS began July 3, 2023. NO CAMPFIRES are allowed ANYWHERE on the Lost Coast Trail (even on the beach) or in the King Range Wilderness. Campstoves are allowed only with the required Cal Fire campfire permit. The ONLY locations where campfires are allowed are in metal campfire rings at Wailaki Campground, Nadelos Campground, Tolkan Campground, and Mattole Campground.
For campfires in metal fire rings, use only wood no larger than your forearm. High winds come up at night, especially when there are hot temperatures inland. Completely put your fire out prior to sleep or leaving your site for the day; douse with water until cool to the touch with your hand. Please protect the wilderness and its surrounding communities who are counting on you to keep their homes safe from wildfire while you are welcomed to enjoy our public lands.
NO FIREWORKS allowed anywhere in the King Range NCA, including Day Use Areas in Shelter Cove and Mattole Beach. Law enforcement will be giving out citations to those not following safety rules.
Call 707-986-5400 with questions.
Thank you for following Fire Restrictions!
Be aware that permits that become available during the month are often dates that are IMPASSIBLE due to tides, or have unfavorable tides. BEFORE PURCHASING a PERMIT, always CHECK THE TIDES. On many dates, the "Low Tide" doesn't go below the threshold level needed to pass safely. Please visit the Lost Coast responsibly! See the Tide Safety Video and the Guide to Tide Safety.
New 3-month Rolling Window Reservation System begins on October 1, 2023. See below for details.
In the King Range Wilderness, a permit quota system has been set up to ensure visitors a wilderness experience free of large crowds and an opportunity for solitude. Also, to protect the fragile wilderness, the quota system controls the number of permits that can be issued at one time. Permits are required year-round for overnight use in the King Range Wilderness.
New Permit Information as of October 1, 2023:
Permits are sold on a 3-month rolling window reservation system. Each day, new permits will become available for 3-months in advance. The daily reservation window opens at 7:00 a.m. For example: on 10/1/23, permits will open for 1/1/24; on 10/2/23, permits will open for 1/2/24 and so on.
One walk-up permit for up to 2 starts (people) will be sold daily at the King Range Visitor Center. First come, first served.
ALERT: There are three sections on the Lost Coast Trail that are impassible at certain tide levels.
#1: Punta Gorda--passable under 6 feet
#2: Sea Lion Gulch to Randall Cr--passable under 2.5 feet (always enter this section on receding tide)
#3: Miller Flat to Gitchell Cr--passable under 3 feet (always enter this section on a receding tide.
Before purchasing permits, please watch Tide Safety Video. Study the trail and impassable sections to ensure your dates are safe and passable. The Lost Coast Trail takes proper itinerary planning to ensure safety and passage. This must occur prior to purchasing a permit.
On the below dates in 2023, the tides do not fall below 3 ft. during daylight hours:
September: 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
October: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 20, 21, 22, 23
November: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 18, 19, 20
December: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 16, 17, 18, 30, 31
On the below dates in 2024, the tides do not fall below 3 ft. during daylight hours:
January: 1, 2
July: 16, 30
August: 13, 14, 15, 16, 27, 28, 29
September: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
October: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
November: 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
December: 6, 7, 19, 20, 21, 22
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are permits available on impassible days? Permits are for the entire King Range NCA, therefore permits on impassable tide dates remain for sale. Do not assume the Lost Coast Trail is passable if the permit is for sale.
Do I have to start my hike on the first day listed on my permit? Yes, the correct entry date is required, no exceptions.
Do I need a permit for day use in the King Range Wilderness? No, permits are required for overnight use only.
Can I transfer my permit to another person? No, permits are non-transferable.
How do I cancel my permit if I decide to not go? Log on to your Recreation.gov account.
How many people can hike together in a group? Maximum group size is 15 people. All organized and commercial groups need a Special Recreation Permit.
Why should I check the marine forecast in addition to the weather? Weather, wind, and ocean swells may affect the ability to traverse safely on the LCT. A large swell can shorten the amount of time to get through a tidal zone safely. Long period secondary swells can mean an increased likelihood of sneaker waves. This can mean life or death as dangerous ocean conditions have resulted in hikers being swept out to sea.
Can I swim in the ocean? No. Never never swim, wade, or use skim boards in the ocean anywhere on the Lost Coast due to rip currents, strong undertow, and sneaker waves.
Who is responsible for making sure our group is safe on the LCT? It is your duty as a permit holder to ensure each person on your permit is aware of all rules & safety concerns.
Who is checking permits? Rangers at the trailheads and on trail.
Are hard-sided bear canisters are required? Yes, bear hangs are not acceptable. Find detailed information and rental locations.
Where do I use the bathroom on the LCT? Deposit solid human waste in holes dug 6 to 8" deep at least 200 feet (70 paces) from fresh water, camp, and trails. Along the LCT, dig your hole in the intertidal zone and bury completely. Always pack out or bury your toilet paper.
How deep are the creek crossings? Heavy rainfall will cause water levels in the creek to rise to unsafe levels. Do not cross if over knee high. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and call your ranger station for current conditions.
Can I have a campfire? It depends on the time of year. You must have a CalFire Campfire permit in addition to a Wilderness Permit. Use existing campfire rings and naturalize your campsite upon departure. Campfires are prohibited approx. July through mid-October.
Can I bring my drone on the Lost Coast Trail? DRONES are NOT allowed.
Printing Your Reserved Permit
You may print your permit 7 days before your reservation date. The permit must be carried by the permit holder. Once your permit has been printed, you cannot make changes.
For individuals and family groups: there is currently no recreation fee for a King Range Wilderness Permit. However, there is a non-refundable reservation fee of $6 per permit on Recreation.gov.
Special Recreation Permit(SRP): Organized* and Commercial group fees:
There is a minimum $130 fee for all SRP groups. A deposit is due with submission of the SRP application.
*Organized groups include, but are not limited to school/classrooms trips, outdoor clubs, online meet-up groups, Boy and Girl Scout Troops, or any other organized group, outside of a family unit.
For guidance on type of SRP group and to request an SRP application, contact the King Range Visitor Center at 707-986-5400.
• The permit is non-transferable.
• The group size can be reduced or increased up to 7 days prior to printing your permit . Please note that increases in group size will only be accommodated up to the availability for the permitted entry day for your group.
• The $6 reservation fee is non-refundable. As a courtesy to other users, please cancel your permit or reduce your group size as needed to free up spots for other hikers.
768 Shelter Cove Road (Physical address) Whitethorn CA 95589
Office Hours: 8:00a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Pacific Standard Time