Mattole Rd - The Lost Coast

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

Imagine with me this out of the way less traveled back country road in the most pristine of settings.

And it doesn't get any more tranquil. It's called the Lost Coast because it's the last piece of California Coastline that remains virgin, undeveloped. It was named the "Lost Coast" after the area experienced depopulation in the 1930s. In addition, the steepness and related geotechnical challenges of the coastal mountains made this stretch of coastline too costly for state highway or county road builders to establish routes through the area, leaving it the most undeveloped and remote portion of the California coast. The Lost Coast is Big Sur on steroids. Back in the 1960’s when Hwy 1 was planned, the coastline was thought to be so rugged, they simply detoured around it (& created the much-loved Leggett section of Hwy 1). Most of the region's coastline is now part of either Sinkyone Wilderness State Park or King Range National Conservation Area..

“ The beauty of it is, few know about this road. Mattole Rd is the sort of ride where you could park the bike, turn the key to the off position and listen to total silence. Mattole Rd doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t lead to any city, and there are no major roads that intersect it. ”

There is a sensation to the Pacific Coastline here unlike anything California has to offer. What makes The Lost Coast different is this is an untouched land up here devoid of people, civilization or big box stores.

If you plan a ride up this way, do not miss this one. Granted, this is not a high-speed ride and the road is old, forgotten, bumpy and ever changing- but that's the last thing you'll be thinking about.

California has no shortage of wilderness areas. The Lost Coast is by far one of the largest at 67,500 acres of undeveloped land. It also contains the longest stretch of undeveloped Pacific Coastline in the continental United States.

To reach the northern end of Mattole Rd, we'll start from Ferndale. Neither direction is better than the other, the redwoods are on the southern end, and the ocean portion is in the northern half. Only one paved road, Wilder Ridge Rd, intersects this 66-mile loop.

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About Pashnit:

Tim Mayhew has devoted nearly 30 years to photographing and writing about California roads. His tireless efforts on the California Motorcycle Roads web site have spread across the globe becoming the encyclopedic guidebook for motorcycle travel in California. As of 2021, Tim has been designing & leading professional motorcycle tours across California, Oregon & Nevada for 18 years.
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