A spectacular meeting of land and sea is certainly the dominant feature of the King Range National Conservation Area (NCA), located just south of Eureka, California in Humboldt country. Mountains seem to thrust straight out of the surf; a precipitous rise rarely surpassed on the continental U.S. coastline. King Peak, the highest point at 4,088 feet, is only three miles from the ocean. The King Range NCA covers 68,000 acres and extends along 35 miles of coastline between the mouth of the Mattole River and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park and is managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Here the landscape was too rugged for highway building, forcing State Highway 1 and U.S. 101 inland. The remote region is known as California's Lost Coast, and is only accessed by a few back roads. The recreation opportunities here are as diverse as the landscape. The Douglas fir peaks attract hikers, hunters, campers and mushroom collectors, while the coast beckons to surfers, anglers, beachcombers, and abalone divers to name a few. In 2006, Congress officially designated 42,585 acres of the King Range NCA as wilderness.
Our service project begins with our hosts at King Range NCA providing a ride to a ridgeline trailhead where you'll hoist full backpacks for a 1.5 mile hike to a remote, undeveloped campsite. Each participant will share hauling your own camping gear, group food, group commissary, light tools and a bear canister loaded with smelly items the short distance to camp. From camp, over the next four days you'll use hand saws and loppers to cut down encroaching Douglas fir trees that are overtaking native coastal prairie habitat (think cutting Christmas trees). On the fifth day, you'll backpack down a steep, 2,300' ridge 7 miles to the coast where you'll set up camp on the beach near a fresh water stream, and then spend the next two days backpacking through soft beach sand 10 more miles to Mattole Beach, where the BLM will pick us up and drive the group to a BBQ at BLM headquarters. What's not to like?