A USLHS CHAPTER
Grounds + Lighthouse: Open anytime by accessing the Lost Coast Trail. Lighthouse is part of King Range National Conservation Area, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management.
From Eureka, travel, 10 miles south on U.S. Highway 101 to the Ferndale exit.
Proceed 5 miles on County Road 211 to Main Street in Ferndale. Follow Main Street approximately 1 mile to its end.
Turn right on Ocean Street, then immediately left on Wildcat Road. Continue 45 miles to Petrolia.
Turn right on Lighthouse Road and travel 5 miles to Mattole Campground. The Lost Coast Trail begins here and leads south 3 miles to the lighthouse.
Punta Gorda is a treacherous point just south of Cape Mendocino. The region, famous for its fog and treacherous shoreline north of San Francisco, is known today as the Lost Coast for its isolation and solitude. However, with numerous shipwrecks in the region, the need for a lighthouse at the point was repeatedly raised until the schooner San Pedro crashed in 1907, finally willing Congress to act and place at lighthouse at Punta Gorda. Finally, in 1912, the lighthouse was lit for the first time with a bivalve lens flashing every fifteen seconds, along with a corresponding fog signal.
Life at the lighthouse was difficult, and keepers came to know the lighthouse as a difficult and lonely assignment despite the robust light station and numerous outbuildings. The lighthouse was only accessible by an 11 mile track to the tiny town of Petrolia and only when the tides and wether were sufficient. A road was later built but this was only accessible until the winter rains.
The last keepers finally left in 1951 and the Bureau of Land Management took over the station. However, squatters soon entered the property, and the BLM eventually burned all wooden structures on the property in 1970. Today, only the lighthouse, oil house, and concrete pads where structures once stood remain.
Today the lighthouse continues to be maintained by the BLM and is accessible by hiking the famed Lost Coast Trail.