Fourmile Creek and Punta Gorda Lighthouse
The first significant stream (Fourmile Creek
) meets the ocean shortly beyond Punta Gorda, flowing through a steep-sided grassy valley, at the mouth of which are two wooden cabins, still furnished and used for occasional habitation. The abandoned Punta Gorda Lighthouse
(in operation from 1911 to 1951) comes into view around the next corner - the walk can be either on flat rocks near the water or on a path over the grassy slopes inland. Some of the larger rocks just offshore harbor a large and vocal colonies of sea lions and harbor seals, and the animals can often be seen close up when resting on the nearby beach (see video
). The lighthouse is the most visible remnant of a lonely settlement that once included about dozen buildings, all now removed apart from a small whitewashed shed, formerly used for oil storage. The main building has a few rooms downstairs, and steep, narrow steps up to the light enclosure, now empty. To the south, the beach narrows once more, the dark grey sand is soon replaced by boulders and the hillsides become more cliff-like, too steep for a trail, so walking has to be along the edge of the ocean - this is the first of several places along the Lost Coast where the route is cut off at high tide. The foot of the cliffs is lined with large fallen rocks, trapping much marine debris, though the coast is largely free of small scale litter.
Sea Lion Gulch
Another narrowish ravine (Sea Lion Gulch
) emerges from the hills, after which a fairly well used path returns, rising quite high above the ocean which still comes right up to the base of the cliffs, with only a narrow, steeply-sloping strip of boulders and pebbles uncovered at low tide. The Cooksie Spur Trail
branches off southeastwards, connecting first to the Cooksie Creek Trail that starts at the mouth of Fourmile Creek, and then to the Spanish Ridge trailhead, 2,500 feet up in the King Range. Near the junction are the ruins of two wooden dwellings, one collapsed, the other mostly intact, still with implements and food items on shelves in the kitchen, despite not being inhabited for decades. This abandoned house once had a fenced, cultivated garden and a pipe taking water from a nearby drainage, and must have been a beautiful if very lonely place to stay. For most of this section of the coast the land bends gradually to the southwest and there are no grand views; each curve just reveals another short section of coast, as far as the next promontory. It is not until Spanish Creek
(5 miles further south) that much more of the coast comes into view, but the old cabins are a good target for a day hike.