FKT: Emily Keddie - Lost Coast Trail (CA) - 2024-04-01

Route variation
Northern section
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
5h 29m 41s

On April 1, I set out with the intention to do the complete route FKT as well as the out and back of it. After completing the northern section, I continued up the road to the south trailhead where I encountered a sign that the southern section was closed just south of Bear Harbor due to winter storm damage. I continued up Chemise Mountain to get cell service and made some calls, ultimately deciding that without knowing if the trail was officially closed, and given the tidal predictions, it would be best to discontinue the effort and run the 30 miles back to my car. It was here that I learned I had FKT’s the northern section, which made the decision hurt a little less! 
I did learn the following day that the southern LCT is, in fact, closed. This makes an FKT currently impossible. Information is very hard to find online, as the trial is seldom used and quite neglected. Best sources of information are local shuttle services, local rangers, and trip reports (of which there were none recently). 

The northern route is straightforward. I started around 6:40am. I was carrying an absolutely obscene amount of stuff in my 12L pack- enough for an unsupported 112-mile effort. 3 battery banks, 2 headlamps, extra AAA’s, 7,000 calories, and warm clothes for overnight. Given this I’m stunned I traveled so quickly. 

This trail is much more enjoyable backpacking, but I had an opportunity to go for it running so I did. Terrain is deep sand, packed sand, in between sand, gravel, small rocks, large rocks. Every stream crossing is currently gushing, highest was over the knees. Didn’t take shoes off- it would have been about 15 times.

I ended up back to my car at 11:22pm after deciding to abort the mission. I saw many deer and one mountain lion on the return trip- I mostly hiked back. It’s not recommended to run in lion country and I can see why. It’s also not recommended to hike the northern section in the dark due to disorienting fog, sneaker waves, and navigating drop offs and some tricky terrain- i took extra care to be alert and retrace my path. The weather and tides were perfect for this attempt. Hopefully the southern section gets some trail work done soon- it’s been a couple of years and it would be a shame if it continues to deteriorate.