Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

UPDATE (July 8, 2020) - California State Parks continues to work with locals on a phased and regionally-driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. Even though the department has increased access across the State Park System, the need for Californians to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the outdoors remains critical.

As such, State Parks continues to ask visitors to plan ahead, avoid road trips and stay close to home, maintain physical distancing, wear a face covering when a physical distance of six feet from others who are not from the immediate household members cannot be maintained, and avoid congregating. This means no gatherings, picnics or parties. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance. Full details on the guidelines are available at parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Below you will find specific information for Sinkyone Wilderness SP:

What is open now?
The following is open at this park:
  • Day Use Area parking and restrooms at Needle Rock and Usal.
  • Walk-in camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis at Needle Rock Campground and Usal Beach Campground.
  • Trail camping along the Lost Coast Trail is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • For more information about camping guidelines, visit www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19Camping

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?

Statewide:
  • Some campgrounds across the state remain closed until further notice. Some campgrounds have started to reopen with modifications. For more information, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19Camping.
  • Some high public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?
Yes, please see below:

  • Stay Local: Although businesses around the state are opening up, Californians should not travel significant distances for pleasure or recreation and should stay close to home. Parking is very limited or closed at park units across the state. Walk or bike to parks in your local neighborhood. Do not travel if you are sick or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks.
  • Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors will be asked to leave if there are too many people at the park, beach or on trails to allow for the required physical distance.
  • Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
  • Stay Covered: The state now requires you to wear a face covering in the outdoors when you cannot stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not your immediate household members. For details, please read California Department of Public Health’s guidance for the use of face coverings here. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.

Thank you for your patience and continued support of California State Parks as we work to limit your risk for exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. For more information, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Phone Number

(707) 247-3318

Park Hours

Day Use areas open Sunrise to Sunset.

Dogs Allowed?

Yes
Except for service animals, dogs not allowed on trails.

Driving Directions to Sinkyone Wilderness SP

North end of wilderness (Needle Rock): 36 miles southwest of Garberville/Redway on Briceland Road. Take Briceland Road west from Redway. Briceland Road becomes Mendocino County Road 435. The last 3.5 miles are unpaved, steep, & narrow.

South end of wilderness (Usal Beach): Approximately one hour north of Ft Bragg on PCH or 15 miles west of Leggett on PCH from Highway 101. Look for mile marker 90.88 on PCH. Turn north for approximately 6 miles onto unpaved, steep, narrow road.

ROADS MAY BE IMPASSABLE IN WET WEATHER. RV'S & TRAILERS NOT RECOMMENDED.

Online reservations are not available for this park.

OVERNIGHT FACILITIES
Environmental Campsites
Family Campsites
Hike or Bike Campsites
Primitive Camping
Alternative Camping
TRAIL USE
Hiking Trails
Horseback Riding
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Fishing
Beach Area
Windsurfing/Surfing

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Needle Rock Visitor Center



Sinkyone Wilderness State Park lies on the southern portion of the Lost Coast, a 60-mile stretch of wilderness comprising the park and the King Range National Conservation Area.

For thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived, the Sinkyone Indians lived on this part of the coast. They occupied permanent villages beside streams and rivers, and moved out in family groups to hunt and forage in the hills during the summer. They fished, gathered seaweed and shellfish, hunted seals and sea lions, and harvested the occasional dead whale washed on shore. All kinds of fish were caught, but the seasonal salmon run was especially important.

Today, the Lost Coast Trail follows the whole length of the rugged Sinkyone coastline. Gray whales pass by during the winter and early spring. Roosevelt elk roam the grasslands. Sea lions and harbor seals hang out in rocky coves. It’s an arresting landscape, with canyons, arches, tide pools, sea stacks, seasonal wildflowers, waterfalls, and dark sand beaches. On a sunny day, the sea looks turquoise, giving the park tropical feeling.

Some aspects of the Sinkyone keep crowds away. Its trails are steep and its campgrounds are primitive. There’s no potable water, and you have to haul out your own trash. When wet, the park’s twisting dirt roads are impassable for passenger cars. More than a few visitors have had to stay an extra day or two because a mudslide or fallen tree closed their route home. “The Sinkyone lets you go when it wants to let you go,” a park ranger says. In other words, it’s a real wilderness. 

Weather  Summer temperatures average 45–75° F. Morning and evening fog is common.
Winter lows range from 35-55° F. Rain falls up to 80 inches per year, mostly between November and May.

Rules & Notices

The Needle Rock to Bear Harbor Road is currently closed to motor vehicles due to unsafe conditions. It is open to day hikers, backpackers, bicyclists, and equestrians.

  • Bring your own toilet paper, even at the Usal drive-in campground. Staffing cuts make it difficult to keep supplies adequate.

  • Pack it in, pack it out is the rule at Usal and other Sinkyone campgrounds. Visitors must bring their own garbage bags or refuse containers.

  • In wet weather, roads may be impassable. RVs and trailers are not recommended in any season.

  • Bring your own drinking water or a water treatment device.

  • Dogs are not allowed on trails. At Usal Beach and Needle Rock Visitor Center they must be in your vehicle or on a leash no more than six feet long.

  • Please do not pick flowers or mushrooms. Eating berries is allowed. Just make sure you know how to tell the difference between the edible and poisonous ones.

  • Don't feed the animals. Hungry animals may beg for food, but once fed they may become aggressive in their demands for more.

  • Keep a clean camp. A bear or raccoon uses his nose to read your menu—and if you leave fragrant leftovers, he might pay you a surprise visit.

  • Lock food in a hard-topped car or (for backpackers) hang it in a tree or secure it in a bear container. Even in the car, store food in airtight containers, carefully wrapped.

  • Be careful around the majestic Roosevelt elk. Stay on trails and do not get close to them. Never get between a cow elk and her young.

  • Don’t approach marine mammals. Report a distressed animal by calling the North Coast Marine Mammal Center at 707-465-6265.

  • Driving on the beach is not allowed, and citations will be issued. Usal Beach is not an OHV park. Street legal vehicles are allowed on designated and maintained roads.

Sinkyone Wilderness SP ImageThe rugged wilderness that once characterized the entire Mendocino Coast can still be explored and enjoyed in the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Since there are no main highways near the coast in this vicinity, the area has come to be called the "Lost Coast."

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is located within bear country.  State Park regulations require that visitors store all food and scented items properly at all times.

Location / Directions
North end of wilderness - (Needle Rock): 36 miles southwest of Garberville/Redway on Briceland Road. Take Briceland Road west from Redway. Briceland Road becomes Mendocino County Road 435. The last 3.5 miles are unpaved, steep, & narrow.

South end of wilderness - (Usal Beach): Approximately one hour north of Ft Bragg on Highway 1 or 15 miles west of Leggett on Highway 1 from Highway 101. Look for mile marker 90.88 on Highway 1. Turn north for approximately 6 miles onto unpaved, steep, narrow road.

ROADS MAY BE IMPASSABLE IN WET WEATHER. RVs & TRAILERS NOT RECOMMENDED.

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
Sinkyone Wilderness State Park occupies a very distinguished geologic location near the junction of three of the major plates that make up the earth’s crust. These three tectonic plates (the Pacific, North American, and Gorda plates) are bounded by major faults, including the San Andreas Fault just offshore of the park and the Mendocino fracture zone and Cascadia “mega-thrust” (a subduction zone) offshore and north of the park.

Sinkyone Wilderness SP
(Photograph by Don Braun)

The full Geo Gems report  |  Geological Gems of State Parks

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