Explore our favorite treks and find all the resources you need to plan your own adventure.
Hunting Hollow Entrance to Coit Lake
17.6 miles / 4,261 ft elevation
Henry W. Coe State Park is one of the few parks in the San Francisco Bay Area not completely overrun by visitors on the weekends. It is also one of the few parks where you can backpack and wilderness camp without needing advanced permits, which means it is also one of the most accessible parks for backpackers. Coit Lake is a favorite location especially if you are interested in fishing, we have had good luck catching fish, such as bass, each time we have been to this lake. You can also take a dip in the lake, which tends to warm up enough to be enjoyable in the summer. In the spring, enjoy the rolling green hills and abundant wildflowers.
Prisoners Harbor to Scorpion Harbor, Santa Cruz Island
15.7 miles / 4,234 ft elevation
Gorgeous two-day backpacking trip on Santa Cruz Island off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. This hike takes you to Channel Islands National Park, which conserves the unique Channel Islands ecosystems. The waters around these islands are also conserved by the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and make for amazing diving. The trail meanders along the island's coast on a ridge line offering panoramic ocean views on both sides. No luck is needed to encounter the curious and adorable island fox on this island. For the best weather, plan a trip in late summer/early fall (July - October).
Half Dome Day Hike - Yosemite National Park, California
14.6 miles / 6,283 ft elevation
The Half Dome day hike is a strenuous, high elevation all-day hike in famous Yosemite National Park requiring an early morning start to finish during daylight hours. However, it is also one of the most scenic hikes in Yosemite, passing by 317 ft Vernal Falls and 594 ft Nevada Falls on the way to the Half Dome summit. Permits are required in order to climb the cables in the final stretch to reach the summit. These permits are limited and distributed by lottery each year after taking applications in March. The cables are up late May through early October if conditions allow.
Mattole Beach to Shelter Cove
25.3 miles / 2,120 ft elevation
This is a refreshing 3 day ocean-side backpacking trip along the Lost Coast from Mattole Beach to Shelter Cove in the King Range National Conservation Area. The trail is mostly on the beach itself with occasional climbs up and down the earth cliffs making this one of the more challenging 25 mile hikes you can make for the elevation. We strongly recommend bringing hiking poles. That being said, black sand beaches, old-growth forests and a 4,000-foot-high wall of windswept peaks make the trek worth the effort.
Fungus Fair Loop - Point Reyes, California
5.5 miles / 1,622 ft elevation
On one weekend per year, typically in January, Point Reyes National Seashore hosts a Fungus Fair at its Bear Valley Visitor Center. The Saturday prior to the fair, volunteers are invited to gather at 10AM for a quick orientation and instructions on how to gather mushrooms. After foraging, volunteers can take their collection to the barn next to the visitor center where a guide walks you through what species you collected. Whether you are into mushroom foraging or just want to know a bit more about the California fungi, this short hike to Mt. Wittenberg summit is for you. Visit any time of year as well for an easy scenic loop with views of the coast.
9.2 miles / 2,947 ft elevation
Cataract Falls can be found along Cataract Creek, at the southern point of Alpine Lake in Marin County. The most popular portion of the hike is the first 0.5 miles where you ascend about 500 feet directly along the creek passing a large number of small scenic waterfalls, clear blue pools and a rocks covered in ferns and moss. After passing this section you can continue on this 9 mile moderate loop to see a pygmy redwood forest, panoramic views of the surrounding area and views of the lake. Plan to hike this loop soon after the rain for the best waterfall experience.
Tennessee Valley Trail to Tennessee Valley Cove
3.8 miles / 439 ft elevation
This short and easy day hike is a crowd favorite and it's easy to see why. Suitable for anything from trail running to walking with a stroller, this wide and flat out-and-back trail rewards you with a gorgeous beach and some of the best Pacific views at Tennessee Cove. For an extra kicker you can hike up to an outlook north of the cove with an old bunker, or take the Coastal Trail to Muir Beach 2.5 miles away.
Berry Creek Falls - Big Basin, California
14.0 miles / 3,575 ft elevation
Berry Creek Falls is a popular destination within Big Basin Redwoods State Park just north of Santa Cruz, California. The set of waterfalls that make up Berry Creek Falls lie at the end of Berry Creek close to where it joins with West Waddell Creek. There are many ways to approach these falls, and this post specifically covers the out-and-back approach from Waddell Beach on the coast. This approach is a great way to see the California Newt and Rough-skinned Newt, especially if it has been raining recently.
Fitz Roy, Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre
21.2 miles / 4,425 ft elevation
Step into another world while on this 3-day scenic Patagonia backpacking loop in Los Glaciares National Park passing by the famous Mount Fitz Roy vista, Laguna De Los Tres and Laguna Torre vista. Prepare for some of the most breathtaking views, abundance of plant and wildlife, and everything from snowy blizzards to sunny beaches. This loop is self-guided and does not require advanced permits. Hiking season for this trek spans the Patagonia summer months of November - March.
Kelly Lake Loop - Henry Coe, California
15.2 miles / 4,066 ft elevation
Henry W. Coe State Park is one of the few parks in the San Francisco Bay Area not completely overrun by visitors on the weekends. It is also one of the few parks where you can backpack and wilderness camp without needing advanced permits, which means it is also one of the most accessible parks for backpackers. This park offers an abundance of trails and lakes to backpack to and camp next to; you can camp anywhere along the lake shore in this park. During your visit you can expect to see rolling grass hills, oak trees, wildlife including turkeys and deer, and if you go in the spring, massive fields of wildflowers.
Coast Camp to Sky Camp Loop - Point Reyes, California
12.1 miles / 2,497 ft elevation
Point Reyes National Seashore boasts some absolutely gorgeous backcountry campgrounds, and one of our favorites is Coast Camp nestled behind a grassy hill just off of Limantour Beach. This is also a great intro-to-backpacking backcountry site, with the camp only being 2 miles from the trailhead on a relatively flat trail. Pack in, set up your camp, and enjoy the surrounding area including a scenic 8 mile loop hike to Sky Camp, sunsets and bonfires on the beach, and plenty of wildlife including deer, seals and sea birds. You can also do this trek as a 12 mile day hike instead of camping overnight.
Diamond Lake - Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado
6.0 miles / 1,639 ft elevation
This 6 mile out-and-back trail takes you to the shores of beautiful Diamond Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness of Colorado. Diamond Lake is an alpine lake forged from centuries of glacier activity in the Colorado rockies. Middle Diamond Lake and Upper Diamond Lake are also reachable by adding another 2.5 miles onto the hike round-trip. On this hike you will encounter countless Aspen groves, waterfalls from North Fork Middle Boulder Creek, and fantastic views of the lake. At only an hour drive from Boulder, this is a must-do hike for anyone living in or visiting Colorado.
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