The Lost Coast – Mendocino

Heading out on the roughly 70 mile drive on Mattole Road, a small mountain road… (I didn’t realize when I set out just how small that road would be in some places) climbing roughly 2600 ft. in elevation in approximately 14 miles.

View from the vicinity of Panther Gap in the King Range.Then dropping back down to sea level to the “Lost Coast” of Mendocino. One of the more undeveloped areas of California’s North Coast.The area is known for its black sand beaches, which get their color from the significant tectonic activity of one continental and two oceanic plates meeting just offshore. (Wikipedia)This strange formation made me think of a submarine though apparently its official name is Steamboat Rock. Undoubtedly all these rock formations were also caused by said “tectonic activity.” Cape Mendocino is also reputed to be the furthest western point on the Continental United States. Though it seems that Cape Blanco in Oregon also wishes to make the same claim.Climbing back up from the beach was a 1-mile incline up an 18% grade. Looking back down from a spot not quite at the top.This was closer to the top of that one climb. You can see the beach off in the distance in the haze.

The road to the beach had some hair-raising spots with switchbacks and some very narrow places hanging onto the side of the mountain. It, however, was nothing compared to the climb back up and out to Ferndale. I will confess that there were some moments that had me thinking of tsunamis on the beach (the warning signs helped to remind me) or earthquakes that could have tossed me off that tiny little road clinging to the mountainside. Luckily my prayers were answered that I not meet another car coming toward me around some of the blind corners where my side was next to the edge of the vertical drop. I might wait awhile before I attempt that little detour again. 😉

Note to my readers from the other Cape Town. I passed Cape Town, California a short distance from this beach. It was so small I seem to have missed seeing it and only found it when searching detailed maps for various elevations. 😉 It was so small I couldn’t find any population figures for it. (40°28’02″N 124°22’13″W)


12 thoughts on “The Lost Coast – Mendocino

  1. Odd, that I never knew about the black sand; I’ve heard of Mendecino, there was even a song about it but somehow I passed it by, overlooked it–thanks for sharing all these adventures!


    • I suspect you’re thinking of the town of Mendocino (at least 60 miles south of where I was). The town is where many of the original hippies moved to when San Francisco was overrun by a lot of wannabes. It’s also the location for quite a few movies. It’s a lot easier to get to than the Lost Coast, since it’s just off of Hwy 1 (or the Coast Highway). The stretch I was on was pretty much undeveloped and uninhabited. What you might call the middle of nowhere.


  2. Lovely shots Gunta…I’ve never been there…..and the “hair-raising road”, along with my desperate fear of heights….your photographs just may be my only opportunity of seeing this beautiful place! Thank you for being BRAVE and Thank you for sharing!!


    • I will admit I questioned my sanity more than a few times. But once I was into the worst section, there was no turning back. Nor was backing out an option. 😦


    • Thanks… I suspect it may be a goodly amount of time before I attempt another like it. Silly me, I stumbled into it unsuspecting. I’ll pay more attention to the comments stating RVs not advised from now on.


    • Honestly, by the time I made it down to the section of beach, I was a bit frazzled and hungry and not terribly inspired to scamper over those rocks and down the bank to get to the black sand. But now that you’ve mentioned it, I wish I HAD made the effort. 😉


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