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Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

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Quick Facts
Reservation Status: Not Accepted First-come first-served camping

General Information

Coastal view from Sinkyone Wilderness SP
Copyright: - California State Parks
Coastal view from Sinkyone Wilderness SP
Description - For thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived, the Sinkyone Indians lived in this part of the coast. They occupied permanent villages alongside streams and rivers, and moved out in family groups to hunt and forage in the hills during the summer. They spent time along the coast fishing, gathering seaweed and shellfish, and hunting seals and sea lions, and harvesting the occasional dead whale that had washed on shore. Fish were an important source of food during the winter. All kinds of fish were caught, but the seasonal salmon run was especially important.

Most park visitors today assume that human beings have had little impact on this area. But every trail, road, or flat spot has been modified by human activity. Game trails were turned into pathways for pack mules loaded with tanbark for the tanneries of San Francisco. Roads were carved and graded for lumbering operations. Open areas and marine terraces were farmed and used to pasture sheep and cattle. Occasionally, what appears to be a wagon road or a modern jeep trail is actually an abandoned railroad right-of-way.

Logging operations continued until well into the 20th century and wood products of various kinds were shipped to market from Usal, Needle Rock, Anderson's Landing, Northport and Bear Harbor/Morgan's Rock. Northport was not much of a port, but lumber schooners were able to take on their cargoes by means of a "wire chute," - a cable and block system that could run wood from the bluff to waiting schooners. Built in 1875, the Northport "chute" was one of the first of its kind on the coast.

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park was created in 1975 when the first 3,430 acres were acquired at Needle Rock. The park expanded in 1986 and now totals 7,367 acres.

Attractions - The rugged wilderness that once characterized the entire Mendocino Coast can still be explored and enjoyed in the 7,367 acre 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." It is very common to see Roosevelt elk.

Primitive hike-in (.25 miles) campsite: with no developed water supply, campsites are first-come-first served. Please contact the park directly for detailed camping availability information.

Recreation - Sinkyone Wilderness offers opportunities for backpacking and primitive hike-in camping. No facilities or access for motor homes or trailers. The park also offers opportunities for viewing spectacular scenery, viewing wildlife, viewing historic sites, surfing, swimming and windsurfing.

Climate - Summers are generally mild. Fog is often encountered near the coastline, with sunny, warmer weather more common inland in the foothills. Summer temperatures range from 45-75 degrees. Morning and evening fog is common.Winters are generally cool with considerable precipitation. Winter temperatures range from 35-55 degrees. Rainfall up to 80 inches per year, mostly occurring between November and May. Wear layers of clothing to accommodate cool to warm temperatures and good walking shoes. Rain protection should be included at any time of year.

Location - Sinkyone Wilderness can be accessed 36 miles southwest of Redway/Garberville on Briceland Rd. Take Briceland Rd. off Hwy. 101. The Park is 36 miles southeast of Redway/Garberville. The last 9 miles are unpaved. The road may be impassable in wet weather.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Leila (Sonoma County, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I found out about the Sinkyone Wilderness from Tom Stienstra's California Camping Book. He gave this place a 10 on his rating scale; a rare thing in his book, so I had to try it out! The drive past Whitethorn into the park is steep, narrow, winding, and long. You need a 4WD if you go during the wet season. The views through the redwoods of the ocean as you wind your way down into the park are amazing! I've been there 6 times in 5 years and want to go many more times. It's my favorite place to camp and hike. I've stayed at many of the walk in camp sites, which are relatively easy to get to, and I've stayed in their converted barn, where they have 6 cots, a porch swing, and amazing views up and down the rugged coast. Elk trampled my tent when I was on a hike. But I went in September, and the only person I saw was a Ranger, who warned me to stay away from them and informed me it was rutting season. I woke up one morning when I was staying in the barn and there was a giant male elk standing on the deck. I came face to face with him when I opened the door! He looked up at me, snorted, and didn't move. So I went back into the barn and waited for him to leave. I've never seen any other campers or hikers at the park. There is an old cabin there, with a museum, and a camp host stays sometimes. The hikes are incredible! Going up to the tip of Chemise Mountain is a nice pay off when you see the Japanese style Gazebo/Bahgoda that was built in the 70's. The flora and fauna are abundant and wonderful to see and appreciate. The hikes down to the beach are mostly treacherous, with steep, crumbly cliffs, and bad or no footholds. But once you are down there, seal lions abound, along with giant sea stacks, some with caves, and large and unusual shells and rocks. This area has a nice combination of forested areas and open grassy fields above towering cliffs to the crashing sea below. I've found the best way to go there, after trying a few routes, is to head due east of Garberville, through Redway and Whitethorn. Please go if you are a true camper/hiker and appreciate natural beauty of astonishing proportions!

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Camping Walk-in primitive sites only.

More Information

Contact Information:
North Coast Redwoods District Headquarters, P.O. Box 2006, 3431 Fort Avenue, Eureka, CA 95503 , Eureka, CA, 95502-2006, Phone: 707-445-6547, Fax: 707-441-5737
, ncrhq@parks.ca.gov

Additional Information:
North Coast State Parks and Beaches - The North Coast Region, stretches nearly 400 miles, from just north of San Francisco to the Oregon border. It is a land of rugged shoreline and pounding surf, of towering redwood forests and rushing rivers, of verdant hills and bountiful vineyards.

California State Parks - Official agency website.


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