King Range Crest National Recreation Trail, California

Spectacular mountain trails with wide ocean views in northern California's Mendocino County

by American Trails Staff


View from the King Range National Recreation Trail

Featured
National Recreation Trail

Designated in 1971


• View more details for this trail
in the NRT Database

• Learn about the NRT Program.

The King Range National Recreation Trail is managed by the Bureau of Land Management from the Arcata Field Office in the King Range National Conservation Area. The King Range Crest Trail is one of the first trails designated as a National Recreation Trail.

Trail scenery includes coastwalking as well as mountain meadows, old-growth forests and ridgetop vistas. Routes through coastal chaparral offer hikers an interesting contrast to the northern leg of the Lost Coast Trail. Hikers can also continue for 22 more miles through redwood groves and fern clad glens of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.

A spectacular meeting of land and sea is certainly the dominant feature of the King Range National Conservation Area. Mountains seem to thrust straight out of the surf; a precipitous rise unsurpassed on the continental U.S. coastline. King Peak, the highest point at 4,087 feet, is only three miles from the ocean.

The King Range contains over 70 miles of hiking trails spanning from the beach to the highest peaks. Most of the upland trails are strenuous due to the steep rugged nature of the area. In addition to mileage, pay attention to the elevation changes listed in the trail descriptions. A number of connector trails allow for loop hikes (Saddle Mountain, Rattlesnake Ridge, Buck Creek Loop Hike) taking in the King Crest and Lost Coast Beach. The BLM maintains the King Range backcountry as a wilderness setting, so expect no facilities and minimal signing on trails.

A new self-service permit system is now in place for the King Range National Conservation Area, affecting hikers and backpackers who plan to spend at least one night in the back country, including the popular Lost Coast Trail.

The free permits, which also serve as California campfire permits for the King Range, are available in self-service boxes at King Range trailheads, at the King Range Office in Whitethorn and at the Bureau of Land Management Arcata Field office in Arcata. Hikers will be asked to complete a brief form, leaving one part in the permit collection box or at the office, and keeping the second part with them while in the King Range.

For more information

For additional information contact the BLM, King Range Office at (707) 986-5400 or www.blm.gov/ca/arcata/kingrange/

For current road and trail conditions call the King Range Office (707-986-5400) or the Arcata Office (707-825-2300).