Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
Even by North Coast standards, Sinkyone Wilderness is strikingly wild and isolated, so much so that just getting there is something of an ordeal. The park offers a pure hiking experience; there's no traffic noise or other signs of civilization, there are hadly even any trail intersections, just a singletrack trail winding atop high coastal bluffs for miles.
Sinkyone isn't primarily a redwood park; it doesn't have any monster redwoods or cathedral-like flats. The park does have three named old-growth redwood groves which have a certain intrigue due to their remote location, but the trail only briefly skirts the groves, and the redwoods that can be seen from the trail aren't generally that big. There are also smaller redwoods throughout the rest of the Lost Coast Trail. Also, the park has a long and rugged coastline but don't expect to find miles of beaches like in other coastal parks; there are just a few coves.
The only way to reach the northern trailhead is a 6-mile, one-lane dirt road that descends steeply from a high coastal ridge through lush woodlands. Although it's a slow drive it's not especially difficult for regular cars - in summer the main danger is encountering someone going the other way. It's probably not a good idea to drive the road in an RV or towing a trailer, or if it's muddy. In winter the road can become blocked by fallen trees or mudslides, stranding park visitors for days.
The main trail through the park is the Lost Coast Trail. The trail is generally well-maintained and easy to follow, although there's a lot of up-and-down. From the south end of the park, the trail extends 16.7 miles over very hilly terrain that becomes gradually less hilly to the north, ending at the Briceland Road trailhead. There are campgrounds at each end of this segment and three campgrounds in the middle at intervals of 2.5 – 5 miles. Briceland Road, a dirt road open to traffic, runs 2.7 miles to the Needle Rock Visitor Center trailhead. From here the trail begins again; it extends another 4.9 miles to the northern park boundary and then continues into King Range Conservation Area.
*** Bear Harbor to Wheeler (10.6 miles)
© 2010 David Baselt