Lost Coast Run – Matole Beach to Shelter Cove
I had wanted to backpack the Lost Coast Trail for a long time. I assumed it would be a very remote wilderness experience. To my surprise, it was largely the opposite! I never went more than about 25 minutes without seeing another person, and I started pressing the lap button on my GPS to record the number of people I saw: over 100 in 26 miles! In spite of this surprise, the route is very much worth doing. I am very glad that I did it as a run as opposed to a backpack. My preference is solitude and wilderness for backpacking, which this trip does not seem to offer. Also, the humid, dank conditions on the coast mean that you’re likely going to be carrying a wet tent in your bag.
The route is great for a run, and can be done as a P2P if you have a shuttle, or as an out-and-back if you have adequate endurance for an over 50 mile run. On the North end, there are superb tide pools. The terrain is pretty runnable because it is flat, though you will have significant slowing due to the sand/rocks (and maybe climbing). The tide needs to be 3′ or lower in order to pass through. There are a couple sections where the 3′ rule is almost mandatory, but I think you could squeeze by with slightly higher water. My recommendation is to plan on going when the tide is below 3′. This is another reason why the route lends itself well to running as opposed to backpacking. There is one section where you are advised to go inland, but it only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to scramble over the large boulders. There are two ~4 mile sections (the first one is right after the Punta Gorda Lighthouse, the second is after Big Flat Creek) where you are advised to avoid at tides less than 3 feet. If you’re backpacking, you’ll need to plan your timing for both sections, but if you’re running, you would probably want the lowest tide to occur smack dab in the middle of your route.