Redwood NP

Home Up

Sierra Club MWROP Backpacking Trip:
Coastal Trail in Redwood National & State Parks, CA &
Lost Coast Trail in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, CA 

May 26 to June 3

Redwood National & State Parks, and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, California

Estimated Trip Cost: $400.00
This includes permit fees, your share of a rental car, and two shuttles, actual cost could be higher or lower depending on the number of participants splitting these costs. Participants will make their own airline and motel reservations and pay for them directly themselves, that is not part of the trip cost

Destination airport is Eureka/Arcata via San Francisco, arriving 2:31pm PDST, Sat, May 26, where we will pick up the rental car(s)

Date of last revision:

Trip Description

Coastal Trail - Redwood National & State Park (RNSP)

This area is comprised of four California state Redwood parks which predated the National Redwood park which generally surrounds them. They are administered as a single unit. Some limitations on backpacking in this park include a five day backcountry limit per trip, geographic obstacles like the Klamath River, and portions of the trail which either contain gaps or follow paved highways. Because of these limitations the Coastal Trail backpack will be for three days over trail.

Some of the most ethereally beautiful photographs I've ever seen were taken here and show the juxtaposition of giant redwoods, blooming rhododendrons, dense coastal fog, sometimes interspersed with shafts of sunlight. Memorial Day weekend is in the Rhododendron season and is a good time to do this spectacular trail. We will be hiking on trails that run along coastal bluffs with many ascents and descents, and at times along the beach. This trip will cover 30 to 40 miles depending on side trips taken with an elevation gain and loss of about 5000' each.

Lost Coast Trail - Sinkyone Wilderness State Park (SWSP)

The Lost Coast Trail is in one of the most remote but inhabited parts of California. Just getting to the trailhead sounds like an adventure. From my many years of backpacking experience I've learned that the harder it is to get to the trailhead the more spectacular the trail will be. Using that criteria this trail should be epic. We will use a shuttle to get to the northern trailhead and hike south for 30 miles with an elevation gain and loss of about 3500' each to our car at the southern trailhead. There will be similarities in flora, fauna, and scenery on both trails. Bear canisters are required for this backpack.


275,000 additional acres in these areas were recently given protection last September by Congress with the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act which includes the Lost Coast, the longest undeveloped shoreline in the lower 48.

Both of these trails will be a visual feast. Without overdoing it, bring as much photographic equipment as your back and legs can  handle. Things we might see include: coastal landscapes, seascapes, sea stacks, seals, whales, seabirds, tide pools, elk, black bear, dense fog, towering redwoods, fir, and Sitka spruce, and many wildflowers including rhododendron. It is not necessary to get permits in advance for this trip, this is a very remote part of California.

This entire trip is rated strenuous and is suitable for experienced, physically fit backpackers with the appropriate gear. All participants must have previously and successfully completed at least three weekend backpacking trips within the past three years. They also must engage in a regular physical fitness program on a weekly basis - working out four to five days per week at a minimum. Individual pack weight will vary but most people will be carrying from 35 to 60 lbs. Each person is responsible for providing their own gear and meals. If people want to, they may elect to share tents, meals, stoves, first aid kits, and water purifiers/filters. A roster of trip participants will be posted, and I will try to coordinate this common gear with participants.

Some rock scrambling is always a possibility on a backpacking trip (ala Old Rag), so participants should have good eye-hand-foot coordination. This is a backpacking trip, not a mountain climbing trip - all travel will be on hiking trails or the beach. Participants will have to fill out an information form regarding their relevant medical history, physical condition and conditioning, prior backpacking experience, and backpacking gear – just like on any national Sierra Club backpacking trip. All participants must sign a liability release.


Some Necessary Gear

  • sturdy, waterproof, broken in hiking boots
  • Teva's or equivalent
  • two sets of socks
  • properly fitted and adjusted backpack, 3500 to 5500 cubic inches
  • small lightweight tent
  • sleeping bag plus pad, good down to 40 degrees F
  • light weight backpacking stove & fuel
  • personal first aid items
  • water purification tablets and a water purifier/filter
  • rain suit
  • extra clothes (include long sleeve shirt and long pants as well as shorts and T shirt), have a fresh set of clothes for the second backpack
  • swim suit
  • sunscreen, sunglasses, hat with visor or brim
  • wool sweater or fleece jacket
  • light but warm knit hat
  • light gloves ?
  • flashlight, extra bulb and batteries
  • compass readable to one or two degrees - declination correction strongly preferred
  • topographic map
  • toilet paper + trowel
  • matches in waterproof container
  • pocket knife
  • whistle
  • biodegradable soap, wash cloth, backpacker towel
  • backpacking food for TWO separate THREE day trips (first day lunch to last day lunch + energy snacks) 
  • 2 quarts or liters of water + 1 empty extra bladder with cap
  • insect repellant, DEET
  • Gatorade, or equivalent
  • 40 to 60' of 1/8" nylon line for hanging things
  • dry waterproof bags for your sleeping bag, clothing, camera, film, electronics
  • bear canister
  • huge, light, cheap duffle bag to protect backpack on airline
  • drivers license, health insurance card
  • money and credit card for gas, meals, and other expenses



Day Date Activity
Pretrip   Ship empty stoves & fuel bottles to motel, allow 10 days for ground shipping 
Saturday May 26 Fly to Eureka/Arcata, CA, pick up rental car(s), get permit if possible, check into motel, buy fuel for stoves
Sunday May 27 Pick up permit, start the Coastal Trail backpack in RNSP
Tuesday May 29 Complete Coastal Trail
Wednesday May 30 Travel day: sightseeing by car in RNSP, travel to SWSP
Thursday May 31 Pick up permit, start Lost Coast Trail backpack
Saturday June 2 Complete backpack, drive to Eureka, stay in motel, ship stoves home
Sunday June 3 Fly home from Eureka


Common Items

If people want to share: tents, stoves & fuel, water purifiers/filters, first aid kits, or meals, you can work that out for yourselves from the trip roster. At a minimum we need one stove, fuel, purifier/filter, and first aid kit for every two to three people. I will try to coordinate this somewhat.

In addition to the above items there may be some other common gear that we will have to split up - probably not much. Some common gear that I will carry myself includes an altimeter, and a large detailed topographic map.

Guidebook & Maps

Coastal Trail, "The Hiker's Hip Pocket Guide to the Humboldt Coast", Bob Lorentzen, 2nd Ed., Bored Feet Press

Lost Coast Trail, "The Hiker's Hip Pocket Guide to the Mendocino Coast", Bob Lorentzen, 3rd Ed., Bored Feet Press

Redwood National Park topographic map, National Geographic Trails Illustrated

California's Lost Coast topographic map, Wilderness Press


We will use bear boxes on the Coastal Trail, we must have bear canisters on the Lost Coast Trail. In addition to food we also have to store, our garbage, and any toiletries that have an odor. Bears are attracted to anything with an odor and their noses are 10,000 times more sensitive than ours! Don't bring cosmetics. Biodegradable soap, toothpaste, sun block,  lip balm, and insect repellent should be all we will need.


Typical spring and summer weather on these two trails is 40 to 60 Degrees F with coastal fog, especially in the morning. So be prepared for cool days and somewhat cold nights along with rain, fog, and sunshine.


Everyone is responsible for providing their own backpacking food for meals and snacks. This is not a commissary based trip - I refuse to do them, they are way too inefficient. Bring more food than you would normally eat at home, but don't over do it. As a backpacker, you will appreciate the concept of food as fuel. Bring things that are lightweight, tasty, and nutritious but easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Extra points for meals that pass the "Lick Test".

Don't plan on buying backpacking food out there, it's too time consuming and we really won't have time to do that. All of your food for the entire trip should be packed before we get on the plane. If you see  some fresh food out there that looks good, add it to your pack but don't plan on it.

Plan food for two, three day backpacks from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day plus snacks for each backpack. Split the food into two bags for three days each. Plan to bring extra energy snacks, Gatorade, and salty snacks for hot days.


We will have to treat all drinking water either with a purifier, filter, or tablets. I want each person to have a total of three water bottles or bladders with at least one bladder with a cap. An empty bladder weighs almost nothing and consumes almost no room - make sure you don't forget the cap to close it.

Leave No Trace

We will practice "Leave No Trace" backcountry ethics. This means that we pack out all of our trash and garbage. It also means that we do not use soap or shampoo to wash in lakes or streams. Just swimming in the water without using soap works pretty well all by itself for getting your body clean. Use a folding basin and/or wash cloth and soap a reasonable distance away from lakes or streams to wash more thoroughly. It's okay to use a tiny amount of biodegradable soap in the lake or stream just to wash your hands and face.

Stove Fuel

Gas canisters (the simple plan):

Carry the stove in your luggage, buy a canister out there.

Liquid Fuel (the complicated plan):

We will be shipping our empty stoves and empty fuel bottles to the starting motel. We cannot carry our stoves or fuel bottles with us on the airplane unless they are brand new and have NEVER been used. Once used they will contain fuel residue and cannot be taken onboard the plane. Although this policy varies from airline to airline. NO AIRLINE WILL ALLOW FUEL OF ANY KIND ON THE AIRPLANE. We will ship the stoves via Parcel Plus, or Mail Boxes Etc. We will have to buy fuel out there before the trip, and ship the empty stoves and empty fuel bottles back the same way in the same boxes. We need to ship the stoves about 10 days prior to our trip departure to ensure that they are there IN TIME as we must use regular ground transportation.


The trip cost includes: your share of a rental car, a shuttle from the ending trailhead, and the required NPS fees. Not included: everything else, such as: airfare, motel rooms, meals, necessary backpacking food and gear, rental car gas, tips, personal expenses, and any other necessary but excluded expenses.

It is important that each participant bring sufficient cash/credit cards for incidental personal expenses. Also if the trip plans should change for any reason such as injuries, or the backpack being shortened or extended by a few days due to circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, fires, etc - it could have an impact on your individual cost. 

Make checks payable to: Sierra Club MWROP and mail to the Trip Leader.

Trip Leader:

Ted Fryberger
6259 Deep River Canyon
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 443-917-2902(W/H)

Copyright 2000 - 2023 by Ted Fryberger & DeepSoft, LLC, All Rights Reserved