Shelter Cove is a small, secluded community in Southern Humboldt County at Point Delgado on California's "Lost Coast." Its setting is a grassy headland on one of the few flat areas along the King Range. The community is surrounded by parts of the King Range National Conservation Area with its 30 miles of restricted-access coastline.
Shelter Cove is proud and excited to be a major player in the restoration of the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, which was moved from its site approximately 25 miles north of the city in November 1988 and now sits at its new location on Upper Pacific Drive in Shelter Cove. In 1999 the lighthouse was reassembled, painted and glass was installed. Built in 1866, the lighthouse served as a warning to mariners for nearly a century before being abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1951. The beacon was in extremely poor condition, and was even in danger of falling into the sea. The Cape Mendocino Lighthouse Preservation Society of Shelter Cove is pleased to be able to keep coastal history alive and to allow visitors access to this legacy. A lighthouse dedication is set for September 30, 2000.
Along with this exciting project, the cove offers outstanding fishing, hiking, backpacking, surfing, picnicking, beachcombing, golfing and other recreational activities for everyone. Among its facilities are an RV park and campground, two restaurants, lodging establishments, a cocktail lounge, coffeehouse, two general stores, a daylight airstrip and a boat launching ramp. Fishing licenses are available, as well as a charter boat service. There are picnic areas and easy access to the cove beach where visitors can swim, surf and explore black sand beaches.
Fishermen are drawn to Shelter Cove for its deep sea salmon fishing, ling and rock cod, red and black snapper, abalone, crab and shellfish. Surf fishing for perch and rock fish is good and surf netting is possible at Dead Man's Creek and the cove beach. Boats can be launched at a ramp in the cove. In calm water, skin-diving and abalone picking are good.
Good hiking trails and pack-in camps are found in the mountains surrounding the cove, including a trail to Kings Peak, the highest point on the continental U.S. shoreline with an elevation of 4,086 feet. There is also the Lost Coast Trail which follows the beach from the cove to the mouth of the Mattole River, 21 miles to the north. Many points along the trail are only passable at low tide, so bring a tide book. Several trails and campsites also exist in the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park to the south of Shelter Cove.
Shelter Cove has a long and intriguing history. An early mention is found in an 1855 article in the Humboldt Weekly that called it the best harbor on the coast, "with 20,000 acres of level prairie land surrounding the bay and gently ascending lands covered with spruce, pine, redwood, alder and other trees."
Directions: Shelter Cove can be reached from exits on Highway 101 at Garberville or Redway. From Redway, take the Briceland/Shelter Cove Road west toward Whitethorn. After the Whitethorn turnoff is passed the road begins to climb and then drops down to the coast.