360° VR Panoramas of the Northern California Coast, Coast Ranges, and Redwood Highway
Usal
Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, California

Starting in the 1880's, Usal was a busy place with a company town, hotel, several lumber mills, even a short railroad. It was progressively abandoned after a catstrophic fire in 1904 and now nothing remains.

To reach Usal one must first find the unmarked junction on Highway One north of Westport, then drive a very narrow road through second growth forest and along thousand foot bluffs. The final descent to Usal Creek, with its beach and campground, can be quite exciting.

This is a wild and beautiful place, the southern end of the Lost Coast Trail. Unfortunately, although the campground and beach area is nominally managed by California state parks there has been little effort in recent years to develop or maintain it.


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Foggy summer morning on the beach at Usal

Foggy summer morning on the beach at Usal

Wild and remote Usal Beach, foggy in summer and storm-lashed in winter. Vehicles are not allowed on the beach but there is currently no enforcement or barrier.

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, California

Date photographed: August 7, 2015
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Above the Usal Valley

Above the Usal Valley

It is a steep climb out of the Usal Valley in either direction - north on the Lost Coast Trail through Sinkyone, or south on the Usal Road.

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, California

Date photographed: August 7, 2015
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Campsite on the Usal Road

Campsite on the Usal Road

The most dramatic campsite at Usal, halfway down the final descent, with a view over the beach and valley mouth.

Usal Road south of Usal Creek, California

Date photographed: August 7, 2015
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The narrow Usal Road 800 feet above the ocean

The narrow Usal Road 800 feet above the ocean

The one-lane Usal Road is at this point 800 feet above the ocean, a well-vegetated but sheer drop. This section of the road is within the Shady Dell area acquired by the Save the Redwoods League in 2013. A 2.5 mile trail, just above the road, is under construction.

Shady Dell on the Usal Road south of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, California

Date photographed: August 7, 2015
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Clearcut on the inland side of the Usal Road

Clearcut on the inland side of the Usal Road

Limited forestry and forest rehabilitation continues inland from the Usal Road.

Usal Road south of Rockport, California

Date photographed: August 7, 2015
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