The following tour description is a sample from my guidebook California Coastal Byways, which I researched in a Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX450. The guide details non-technical backcountry tours suitable to adventure motorcyclists and SUV-borne travelers. If you are unable to acquire a copy of the book at a reasonable price from Wilderness Press or your favorite retailer, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
***Would you like a fuller sense of what it's like to explore America's loneliest shore? Read my magazine feature, Lost Coast Castaways, originally published in Road & Track magazine's spinoff, Open Road.
|Lexus LX450 crosses Usal Creek.|
DIFFICULTY Easy when dry, possibly impassable when wet. Folks who insist on attempting to drive it when it's muddy can cause a great of damage. There are many blind curves. In fact, nowhere have I come closer to a head-on collision than here.
TIME & DISTANCE 3 hours; 32 miles.
MAPS Benchmark Maps' California Road & Recreation Atlas, p. 56 (C-E, 4-5). California State Automobile Association's (AAA) Northern California Section (H-J, 2).
INFORMATION Mendocino County. Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. King Range Conservation Area.
GETTING THERE From the south, the direction I describe: From California Highway 1 about 13 miles north of Westport and 14.7 miles west of U.S. Highway 101, turn north at milepost 90.88 onto Mendocino County road 431. Watch for a “Narrow winding road” sign. Set your odometer to 0. From the north: At Redway or Garberville, travel southwest toward Shelter Cove. Take either Chemise Mountain Road south from Shelter Cove Road or Briceland Road through Whitethorn to Four Corners.
THE DRIVE Usal Road snakes through the wildest part of the California coast. Nicknamed the “Lost Coast,” it is among the most isolated coastal areas--if not the most isolated--in the Lower 48.
So daunting and erodible are these mountains--seabed sediments dozed up by the collision of tectonic plates--that the builders of California Highway 1 were forced inland to link up with U.S. 101.
|Bear Harbor Road, also on the Lost Coast|
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