The Lost Coast is a rare treasure – a long stretch of wild and undeveloped California coastline.
When planning historic Highway One, which follows most of California’s long and beautiful coast, builders admitted defeat when faced with the steep, rugged terrain created by the meeting of three tectonic plates, the Mendocino Junction. The storied highway turns inland north of Rockport, leaving the coastline accessible only by narrow, winding roads, some of which are impassable during the wet winter months.
The difficulty of reaching this remote part of the California coast inspired the name “Lost Coast” to describe this unspoiled, spectacular area of the Golden State. While all of the Lost Coast is not accessible by car, some of it is, including the soft black sands of Usal Beach.
Arriving at the beach, you’ll find dramatic dark sand and wild waves thundering against the shore. Offshore, there are striking sea stacks and rock formations, and both the ocean and the shore teem with wildlife. Seals and sea lions live here, as does a herd of majestic Roosevelt Elk. It’s a great spot to watch whales migrate in season, and all year round there are plenty of sea and shorebirds, including pelicans, loons, ospreys, oystercatchers, woodpeckers and goldfinches. In this idyllic place, it’s hard to believe that you are in the most populous state in the nation. Enjoy the wilderness and the wildness!
To reach Usal Beach, look for Usal Road (also called County Road 431) about 13 miles north of Westport. Follow the road for about six miles to the beach. Note that it is a narrow, unpaved, and curving road that is steep in places. It is not advisable to attempt to navigate this road during the rainy season, approximately from October to April. Dogs are not allowed on the beach or trails.