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California's Best Backpacking Trips

09.28.17

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California's Best Backpacking Trips
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  • Heavy fog on the Lost Coast Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • The Lost Coast Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Lupine along The Lost Coast Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Lupine and coast, Lost Coast Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • One of the tidal barriers along the Lost Coast Trail. - California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • The sunset at Buck Creek on the Lost Coast Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • The Lost Coast.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Beach hiking along the Lost Coast Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Seals along the Lost Coast Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Four Lakes Loop in California's Trinity Alps.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Summit Lake in the Red Trinities.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Sunrise on the White Trinities from near Diamond Lake, Four Lakes Loop.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Overlooking Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley hike.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Yosemite High Country near Tuolumne Meadows.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley hike.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Dawn view over Tuolumne Meadows, with Fairview Dome (9,728 ft) in center.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • The Bailey Bridge in Kings Canyon, Rae Lakes Loop.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Rae Lakes Loop, Kings Canyon National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Rae Lakes Loop, Kings Canyon National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • View of Rae Lakes Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Descent to Bubbs Creek, Rae Lakes Loop, Kings Canyon National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Hiker on the Mist Trail on the way up to Vernal Falls near the start of the JMT.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Cathedral Peak along the John Muir Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • A JMT hiker in Kings Canyon National Park climbing toward Muir Pass (11,955 ft) with Lake McDermand, Wanda Lake and Mount McGee in the background.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Sunrise from the Whitney Massif, John Muir Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Climbing the western slopes of Mount Whitney following a multi-day approach from Cottonwood Pack Station.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Campsite on the return from Mount Whitney en route to Cottonwood Pack Station.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Backpacking to Mount Whitney from the Cottonwood Pack Station.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Lower Little Five Lake with the Kaweah Peaks Ridge behind, Sequoia National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • A backcountry camp at Middle Big Five Lake, Sequoia National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Lost Canyon from above, Sequoia National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Sierra sunset above Cyclamen and Spring Lakes, Sequoia National Park.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Fall colors along the Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Campsite near First Lake with Temple Crag in the background, North Fork Big Pine Creek Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Hiking above Second Lake, North Fork, Big Pine Creek Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Big Pine Creek's South Fork Canyon stems off from the the North Fork Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Backpacking Point Reyes' Sky Trail Loop.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • View of the Point Reyes Penninsula from near Sky Camp.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Sky Trail Loop.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Santa Cruz Mountains seen from the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Old-growth redwood in Big Basin Headquarters.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Canyon views from the trail to Sykes Hot Springs.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • View of the Big Sur River from the trail to Sykes Hot Springs.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Sykes Hot Springs Trail near Barlow Flat Camp.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
  • Sykes Hot Springs along the Big Sur River.- California's Best Backpacking Trips
Article
Team

California is a land of varied latitudes, topography and climates that are uniquely located within a relatively close range. The damp forest and rugged coastlines of the state's coastal mountains couldn't feel further apart from the dry alpine and steep escarpment of the eastern Sierra or the polished granite domes and towering walls of Yosemite, yet they are within a casual day's drive of each other.

Within this varied landscape are some of the nation’s premier wilderness areas, parks and trails that provide the backdrop for California's top backpacking trips.

Iconic trails such as the John Muir Trail and the Mount Whitney Trail traverse well-trodden high-country routes of the fabled Sierra Nevada, while lesser known trails explore smaller and no less impressive ranges that comprise areas like the Trinity Alps. Then there are the 840 miles of dramatic California coastline, which provides year-round access to the coastal nooks from the Lost Coast of the Kings Range down to Big Sur

With the backpacking season just around the corner, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite multi-day backpacking trips throughout the state for your summer planning enjoyment below.

There are definitely no bad options here, but some of below trips require extensive pre-planning and/or are limited by permit quotas (though a limited number of spots remain reserved for walk-ins) or seasonal road access, while other locations are simply show up and go. So dust off those hiking boots, start studying your maps, and consider adding a new backpacking trip in the Golden State to your itinerary this season.

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