Usal Beach - Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, CA (4x4 drive)


What? :

I finally made it out to Usal Beach, and I know for sure that I will come and visit here again.

The unpaved, steep, narrow 6 miles dirt road will lead you to one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in California, Usal Beach.

The large opening of Usual Creek nested in the coastal mountains and located in the southern tip of the remote Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.

Note: I saw few YouTube about this beach and it looks like that during summer month and especially at weekends this beach, although "remote" is full with other people, cars and noise so it is probably a different experience to what I had.


I only drove to the beach, so in this blog I will not provide information about the state park itself.




Where? :

Start of the unpaved road:

Approximately one hour north of Ft Bragg on Highway 1, drive 30 miles until you will see on your left the entrance to the dirt road.

Drive 15.6 miles (30 minutes) west of Leggett on Highway 1 from Highway 101. Look for mile marker 90.88 on Highway 1. Turn north (right) unpaved narrow road.

Link to off-road drive starting point:

Google Map Link

Link to the Usal Beach location:

When? :

You can visit here year-round but it is not recommended when it is raining and right after, let the road dray.

I visit here in end of January but after 2 weeks without heavy rain.


Due note 1: Near the bay there are only primitive campgrounds are and no potable water.


Due note 2: Although no mandatory four-wheel drive and high clearance vehicles are recommended. This is not recommended road for low clearance car.


Due note 3: When wet, the park’s dirt roads are impassable for passenger cars, under heavy rain also 4x4 cars may find it challenging.


Due note 4: This is two-way road, drive slowly and expect incoming traffic at any point.


Due note 5: Driving on the beach itself is not allowed.


Due note 6: Usal Beach is not an OHV park. Street legal vehicles are allowed on designated and maintained roads.


Due note 7: Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is located within bear country, regulations require that visitors always store all food and scented items properly.


Due note 8: Permits are not required; I did not stay here for the night, but I saw online that you do need to pay for night camping at Usal Beach.


Due note 9: Although it is relatively remote beach this campground can be (over) overcrowded in summer weekends. I visit here during January nice weekend and there where something like 8 other cars here.


Due note 10: As in all California coastline, do expect to have morning fog, especially during summer.



My thoughts:

I wanted to visit here for long time and finally manage to do this, and I was not disappointed. Fun drive over the mountain, amazing view of the remote mountain coastline and the large opening of Usual Beach.

I did not stay here for long time, walk in the woods, and explore the beach.

I must come again, stay for the night, visit the Candelabra Redwoods, and drive and explore Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.




The visit:


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.

At the southern tip of this remote ragged park, you can find Usual Beach.


I will describe the common way to reach the beach, 6 miles drive north from highway 1.


The single-lane unpaved old logging road that is narrow in some sections climbing and descending the coastal ridge.

Overall, there are no major technical driving obstacles, but it is not recommended for low clearance cars.

When it is raining and even few weeks after there can be flooded sections near the bridge and river crossing but most other sections along the coastal ridge are not muddy.


Starting point of the drive: see above where section.


Soon when you are turning from highway 1 heading north you are on dirt road.

The first section of the dirt road sharply climb the ridge in a narrow winding road with relatively few places for front coming car passing.

You will reach the top of ridge after around 2 miles and here the road follow the ridgeline and become relatively wider and keeping the same level.

Around 4 miles from the start of your drive the road start to descend sharply on the mountain’s ocean side slopes.

In this section the narrow road offers incredible views of the cliffs that fall all the way down into the ocean.

There is an excellent viewpoint in one of the sharp turns in the road just before the final descent section, you can park your car on the right side of the road in the small opening and walk to the cliff edge just above the large opening of the bay.

From here, a short drive down and you will reach the floor of the valley, keep driving and soon you will reach the large wooden bridge that crossing Usual Creek.


You can expect to finish the 6 miles drive from highway 1 to Usal Beach in 30-40 minutes, including short stops on the way to enjoy the view.


After crossing the bridge turn left and drive through the silver birch forest to the campground area or all the way to the end of the road to the opening near the beach.

I understand that sometimes you can see herd of Roosevelt Elk, I was here mid-day late January and there were no Elk around.


Here you can walk down the stream to the ocean beach, be careful from surprise waves in stormy weather and high tide.


After spending here for some time, I walk back to my car and drove back on the same road I got in.



Important note:

I learned about the Candelabra Redwoods that are uniquely beautiful only after my visit here, when collecting more information to write this blog.

The short trail to Candelabra Redwoods start just south of the bridge on Usal Road. The trail enters the redwood grove, climbing steeply passing by several large candelabra redwoods.

Looks like I must visit Usal Beach again.







Additional Pictures: