Punta Gorda Lighthouse
Located along the Lost Coast in the King Range National Conservation Area,
the Punta Gorda fog station began operating on June 22, 1888, and the lighthouse
with its fourth order lens on January 15, 1912. Coastal liner
Columbia shipwrecked 16 miles south of Punta Gorda losing 87 lives prior
to the 1912. Other shipwrecks included steamers St. Paul and Humboldt.
Isolated and lonely, the
lighthouse was reported to be the "Alcatraz" of lighthouses, a place where
employees were stationed as a punishment for misconduct. Throughout its
operation, the lighthouse remained a frontier settlement in the midst of
a modernizing world. During good weather, a keeper would ride horseback
into the village of Petrolia to carry back what fresh supplies he could.
For much of the winter, flooded streams and fierce winds kept the area
cut off from civilization. The lighthouse was in service for 3 years until
it was taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II and finally
closed in 1951.
was transferred to Bureau of Land Management in 1963. Possibly too expensive
to maintain, the station buildings were burned in 1970. Placed on the National
Register of Historic Places on October 5, 197, the remains of a
light with an empty lantern, concrete oil house, original barn, fog signal
building, storage shed, carpenter and blacksmith shop and stables receive
coats of paint from time to time. The public is allowed to look around.
From Eureka, travel, 10 miles
south on U.S. Highway 101 to the Ferndale exit. Proceed 5 miles on County
Road 211 to Main Street
in Ferndale. Follow Main Street approximately 1 mile to its end. Turn right
on Ocean Street, then immediately
left on Wildcat Road. Continue 45 miles to Petrolia. Turn right on Lighthouse
Road and travel 5 miles
to Mattole Campground. The Lost Coast Trail begins at the Mattole information
kiosk and leads south 3 miles
to the lighthouse.
Punta Gorda Lighthouse
Bureau of Land Management 1695 Heinden Road Arcata, CA 95521
Phone: 707-825-2300 Email:firstname.lastname@example.orgThe lighthouse is along
the California Coastal Trail in a region known as the Lost Coast. From
the trailhead, the lighthouse is a three to four-mile hike through the
sand. Closest town is a tiny hamlet of Petrolia where the first oil well
in California was located.
Trail: Lost Cost Trail Distance:
24.8 miles (one way) Start Trailhead: Mattole End Trailhead:
Black Sands Beach Permits: not required for individuals (free permit
required for groups) Driving distance: 230mi north of San Francisco
Fire pemits are required for using fires and stoves in the backcountry.
Fire permits can be obtained from the Sinkyone Wilderness SP office in
Whitethorn (in the way to Shelter Cove), by self registration in the information
boards, or on the trail from a friendly ranger.
For groups, free permits are required
if the group meets this conditions: charges are limited to a sharing of
group expenses. No paid guides accompany the group, and fees do not offset
other costs of running the organization. Call or write to the Arcata Resource Area, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 1695 Heindon Rd. Arcata,
CA 95521, (707) 825-2300
Driving Directions to Trailheads
Mattole: U.S. 101 to the "South Fork/Honeydew" exit. Follow the signs some
23 miles to the hamlet of Honeydew. At the end of the single-lane
bridge, make a right and continue North to Petrolia. One mile
before Petrolia, turn left on Lighthouse Road (marked with a "Beach Access"
sign). Proceed five more miles to the Mattole Recreation Site.
On May'00, some of the Lighthouse Rd. was gravel. Nevertheless, the
road is easily passable by passenger car in good weather. Allow
1 1/2 hours for the trip from 101.
Black Sands Beach (Shelter Cove): U.S.
101 to the Redway/Garberville exit. Take the second exit (Shelter Cove).
Turn to the left crossing the freeway and continue about 2 miles to an
even smaller town of Redway. At the other end of the town is Shelter
Cove Road (Briceland Rd.) a street turning to the left (by a Restaurant).
Continue across the Eel river and through the Whitemore Grove of giant
redwoods. Shelter Cove is west for a total of 23 miles. You will pass though
the hamlet of Briceland, then Whitethorn, finally over two mountains
in 5 miles. When descending both of these mountains remember you
must use your low gears. After the "General Store," look for the
"Black Sands Beach" sign and turn left. Allow 45min-1hr from the
intersection from 101.
Car shuttle (leave one car a Mattole, the
other at Black Sands Beach). The car shuttle takes about 5 hours
round trip (45min from Black Sands Beach to 101, 15min on 101, 1 1/2 hrs
to Mattole, and back). Commercial Shuttles (always call in advance!):
Roxanne@saber.net at www.lostcoasttrail.com: (707) 986-9909
Shelter Cove Camp Ground Store & Deli: (707) 986-7474
It's very important to have a tide table.
Some segments of the trail are impassable during high tide. Tide
tables can be found on-line at www.harbortides.com, for the northern segment
of the Lost Coast, you should use the Shelter Cove table at http://www.harbortides.com/station_tides.asp?station=3080.
You can also use a San Francisco table and convert the tide times to Shelter
Cove by subtracting 17 minutes for the low tide and substracting 39 minutes
for the high tide. Note: there are several Shelter Coves in California,
make sure you choose the tide table for the right one.
These are the segments that may be impassable
at high tide (mileage from Mattole): Punta Gorda (2.9mi),
Sea Lion Gulch to Randall Creek (4.5-8.4mi), South end of Miller
Flat to 1.5mi North of Gitchell Creek (16.7-20.7mi)
There are several excellent chronicles
and even a book or two written about the California Coastal Trail. Using
any search engine, enter the words, "lost coast" or "lost coast +california".
The amount of detail in these online journals will take you the entire
route. You might want to print one before you attempt the trip.