The Lost Coast – A Beautiful Ride

By Kris Fant.

There are so many beautiful rides, but my favorite to tell people about is “The Lost Coast.” The lost coast is in Northern California, and is a stretch of road that winds up until it crests the pasture filled hills, gives you a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, then winds down to the secluded coastline. It travels the coast, then turns inward toward the small town of Petrolia, and if you follow the road back toward Highway 1, you wind your way through breathtaking Redwoods, on a narrow path that is being reclaimed by the roots of these giant trees.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Living in Portland, you can enjoy the Lost Coast over a long weekend; it might be a bit more of a trek for other folks reading this article. Choose your favorite route to the Pacific Ocean, or explore a new one, and enjoy highway 101 south, visiting each beach town along the way. All of the beach towns have their own flavor with the carnival atmosphere of Seaside, the artistic draw of Cannon Beach, and the charm of Bandon. I highly recommend Bandon Fish Market for Fish and Chips. Don’t forget to visit with the Fish Market cat who lives in a special little house outside of the kitchen. He’s a charmer. Leaving Oregon, you will enjoy the gentle curves of Highway 101 south to Ferndale (exit 692). Take this exit west, and travel a long lonely road until you find a charming Victorian town. If you haven’t already stopped for lunch, enjoy one of the many eateries in Ferndale; we are always too excited to actually get to the Lost Coast to stop for lunch in this adorable town, but every restaurant gets great reviews! This is the last civilization you will see for a while.

From Ferndale, find Mattole Rd. It is not well marked, but there is a metal sign by the side of the road pointing the way to Capetown and Petrolia. The roads are manageable for all vehicles, but be forewarned, geology has been attempting to reclaim Mattole Rd. for years, and there are cracks where earthquakes have broken the pavement and stretches of gravel where local residents have tried to repair the road. This, and its proximity to the King Mountain Range, makes it dual sporting heaven. Enjoy the cows, the sheep, and the winding twisting road, stopping for pictures liberally. You can stop anywhere; the locals will check in and ask if you are ok, but are great about going around you if you happen to find a perfect photo opportunity from the middle of the road. They are also very kind about letting motorcycles around their farm trucks. When you reach the top of the hills, enjoy the subtle change in the weather, as you feel the brisk sea air against your face.   It would not be easy to ride along the beach, but there are lovely pullouts for pictures, and the beach is just a short climb down a retaining wall. Returning to your bike, you might start to feel hungry. After miles of nothing, you will turn a corner, and viola! The Yellow Rose: A restaurant with excellent food and an unexpected location.

If you are interested in camping, there are a couple of options we explored. There is camping on the way to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse, just off of Lighthouse Road. You are literally beach side, with sand, crashing waves, and wind. It’s stunningly beautiful, but there is limited space, so avoid holiday weekends. For people who ride and then backpack, there is camping all along the trail to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse. You do need a permit, and they are available for free at the trailhead. When we found the camping on the beach full, we decided to explore A.W. Way campground in Petrolia.

It was lovely, on a river, peaceful, and there were fellow adventure riders there. I highly recommend this quiet beautiful location. Once you have ridden the Lost Coast, there is so much more to explore in the area. Shelter Cove, The Redwoods, King Mountain Range, the options are limitless. You can make this a weekend trip, or stay for a week. Just make sure The Lost Coast is on your ride list; you won’t regret it.