Our day started in Caspar Beach where we packed up the camper, hooked up to the truck and set off for stop number one, the supermarket down the road. We pulled in and a guy came up to us and said the bike rack on the back of our camper didn’t look right. I went back to have a look and sure enough the pin that allows the rack to move into a upright stored position or the down/loaded position had broken and the rack was hanging low! Luckily the camper is high enough the bikes did not drag on the road. With that discovery I unhitched the camper in the parking lot and while Jen and the boys shopped for groceries I headed down to the local hardware store for a nut, bolt and a few washers. Everything was put back in position fairly quickly and we were back on the road with a repaired rack and food for the weekend while we checked out the Paradise Royale loop in the Lost Coast.
Looking at the map it seems like a pretty easy drive, just 80 miles up the road, maybe 2.5 to 3 hours. But not when your towing a 27′ camper! The roads leading into the lost coast are STEEP, like sustained 15-18%+. With about 20 miles to go the road starts to really go up and so did the temp gauge on our truck. We had to pull over 3 times to let the truck cool down on the way in. Then we hit the dirt road. It started with a good 15% downhill. Thank goodness the trailer brakes worked and I put the truck in low range to help keep us slow. Anyway, it took us a bit over 4hrs to make it to the Tolkan campground and our nerves were pretty shot by then. Luckily we got an amazing spot to decompress from the day.
With the stress of towing in the camper behind us, the next day we got to focus on the riding. The Paradise Royale loop is an 12 mile trail that was created through a partnership with the BLM, IMBA and local MTB advocates. This is not some hiking trail being used by mountain bikes, it is a purpose built trail with smooth switchbacks on the way up and great berms and jumps on the way down. For the entire 12 miles you will feel like you are in the backcountry (and you are) but on a trail that was built just for you and your bike! Bonus: Someone left a chair near the top so you can rest and look out into the Pacific Ocean.
Oh and did I mention there is a terrain park right at the campground! Kalden had a blast in this park all weekend running laps on it. It has both man made and natural features including ramps, jumps and wall rides.
Lars got in on the fun as well checking out the trails close to camp.
The other trail to consider riding while there is the Pacific Rim. If you can get a shuttle to the start of this trail you can ride it to the end which then flows right into Paradise Royale. Continue on that back to the Tolken campground and it’s another great 10 mile ride. Bonus if you get up there on a rare day with no fog and you get these views all the way to the ocean.
You are also only 20 minutes to the “town” of Shelter Cove. It’s worth a drive there to check out the Black Sand Beach, tidepools, and views. Just don’t go there looking to be pampered or find many amenities. We picked up some sandwiches at the well-stocked general store.
A few parting thoughts:
-We had read about this trails system a long time ago and it was pretty heavily hyped up. We had high expectations going into this and all of them were met, we loved it there.
-The Tolkan campground is a great base to do the rides and as I said you are at the start of the terrain park. It has trash cans and pit toilets there. The BLM site said they had water there and there were spigots but they were all dry. BYO water to be safe.
-Did I mention the roads there are STEEP. Not a problem at all if your just driving your car/truck but if you’re towing like us it can be challenging. We are within the tow capacity of our truck but at the upper end. These roads almost killed our truck.
-We’ll be back. This was one of the best camping/MTB trips we’ve had. Get in, set up for the weekend and do everything right from your site.
BLM website with general info and interactive map.
MTB Project for ride description and info.