Sinkyone Wilderness State Park lies on the southern portion of the Lost Coast, a 60-mile stretch of wilderness comprising the park and the King Range National Conservation Area.
For thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived, the Sinkyone Indians lived on this part of the coast. They occupied permanent villages beside streams and rivers, and moved out in family groups to hunt and forage in the hills during the summer. They fished, gathered seaweed and shellfish, hunted seals and sea lions, and harvested the occasional dead whale washed on shore. All kinds of fish were caught, but the seasonal salmon run was especially important.
Today, the Lost Coast Trail follows the whole length of the rugged Sinkyone coastline. Gray whales pass by during the winter and early spring. Roosevelt elk roam the grasslands. Sea lions and harbor seals hang out in rocky coves. It’s an arresting landscape, with canyons, arches, tide pools, sea stacks, seasonal wildflowers, waterfalls, and dark sand beaches. On a sunny day, the sea looks turquoise, giving the park tropical feeling.
Some aspects of the Sinkyone keep crowds away. Its trails are steep and its campgrounds are primitive. There’s no potable water, and you have to haul out your own trash. When wet, the park’s twisting dirt roads are impassable for passenger cars. More than a few visitors have had to stay an extra day or two because a mudslide or fallen tree closed their route home. “The Sinkyone lets you go when it wants to let you go,” a park ranger says. In other words, it’s a real wilderness.
The Lost Coast as a whole is a great choice for a camping trip. The trails are a bit overgrown, but the views are unreal! The Usal Beach campsite is an awesome campsite. Some people in our group camped on the sand (got a bit windy at night), some in the meadow a bit more inland and even one guy set up his hammock tent in the trees- lots of great options!
Very Cool place to Camp and Enjoy ! I've now been 3 times and each time its a little different and always Total Zen Peace to be had !
But make sure you only go during the week, because of the rowdiness, hell raising, dune driving doing donuts, drunken idiots that are there on the weekends.
I had researched this place once I had heard of the Lost coast, and read many stories of failed weekends … So Every time I've gone its been camping tues-thurs….most times we've been the only people there.
We've always gone up north Hwy 1 to about 4 miles past Westport and turned left on USAL Rd, ( now some one painted a big arrow on the street pointing the way ) but the first few times the turn was a lil challenging to find… anyway take that USAL Rd and drive through the forest for about 5 miles, ( very easy dirt rd when dry, treacherous and challenging when wet 4x4 when it's wet for sure ) once through the forest stop and take pics , it's so beautiful 1000-2000 ft above the Ocean, watch for California Gray whales ! Anyway, once througfh the forest come down the hill and you'll drive right across a lil wodden bridge, take an immediate left to find camping spots and the beach is just beyond the camp sites !
It's so beautiful, peaceful and wonderful here. It will continue to be a favorite for my wife Jan and I for decades to come !
Having grown up spending a lot of time on the N Cali coast, Usal beach was always my absolute FAVORITE spot to camp! The secluded beach, elk roaming free and the enchanted forest always were a major incentive to go. The road is a little sketchy at times of the year so it's best to take a 4x4 if you can, however I've seen multiple people drive their cars in as well. It is definitely a popular spot for the locals to make day trips. Even when the campground is "busy", there have always been campsites available. Unfortunately there is no water source besides the creek, so make sure you bring enough fresh water for your stay. Be prepared to use pit toilets as well!!
I'm lucky enough to live within an hour from this amazing place. Granted it has no facilities as budgets have been hacked and slashed, but this isn't the kind of place for luxury camping. This is the kind of place that will renew your soul, it will make you feel alive and allow the stress of the everyday world to wash away.
Located off the far north end of hwy 1 you have to traverse a steep, winding and rutted dirt road for several miles until you break out of the forest to reveal a jaw dropping breath taking view of Usal beach.
During peak season the campsites can get a little busy as Usal serves as the southern most trail head for the Lost Coast Trail. But I have never not been able to get a camp site. Many times throughout the year I arrive to find myself the only visitor, and those are the times I cherish most. You may also find during the summer weekends local kids coming to drink and party. They can get noisy and rowdy but the area is spread out enough that funding a private camp is usually an option.
While camped at Usal it is very probable that you will see wild Elk. In fact the last time I was there we saw 6 massive Elk who hung out with us all day. Big time photo shoot :-)
I hope you get to experience this amazing, magical place!