Northern California comprises of interesting destinations such as the San Francisco Bay Area, the Metropolitan Fresno, several other natural national parks that boasts not only their natural scenic beauty but that of their grand display of resources that particularly unique to the area.
In short, for a backpacking trip, Norther California is a traveler’s paradise.
In this post, some of the most interesting destinations for best backpacking in Norther California will be featured. But first, let us try to see what best benefits you can get from a backpacking trip?
What is backpacking? To put it simply, backpacking is traveling, hiking, or camping with just a backpack. You only bring a minimal amount of items and usually, it’s only the essentials. Most of the time there isn’t much planning involved in backpacking. It’s just going where you want to go whenever you want to go! Here are a few points that make backpacking interesting and exciting at the same time:
- Teaches You To Be Resourceful
Since you’re only traveling with a single backpack, your resources are limited. You can only bring what you need. Since you can’t bring that much, this is where your resourcefulness comes in. You make do with what you have, this gives you a different perspective on life and makes you think simpler and more practical.
- Teaches You To Be Flexible
Backpacking doesn’t just teach you how to be resourceful but also teaches you how to be flexible. Quite similar to being resourceful, being flexible gets you out of your comfort zone and teaches you what to do in different situations. Backpacking can also teach you how to be flexible when you make a plan and things don’t exactly work out the way you thought things would.
- You Become More Open-Minded
Backpacking can open your eyes to new horizons. Traveling to different places, meeting new people, and seeing incredible sights can keep you open-minded to new insights. This doesn’t just help you when you’re backpacking but this also helps you in many situations you might face throughout your life. Being open-minded doesn’t just make you more open to new ideas but also makes you open to new lifestyles as well that could quite possibly help you in the long run.
- You Get to See the World!
Traveling is extremely exciting and as shown, teaches you many things. But another thing that makes backpacking interesting is that it makes traveling ten times easier! Since backpacking makes traveling easier, you get to travel more and see more of the world! Exploring the world can open your mind to new ideas, new outlooks and as mentioned, new lifestyles. Our world is an extremely beautiful place, and with backpacking, you can see way more of it!
- Gives You a New Sense of Confidence
“I went to Paris from New York with a single backpack in 5 days!”. Quite an exciting story isn’t it? The more you backpack, the more stories like this you can tell, and the more stories like this you have, the more confidence you have. I mean, imagine saying that, ” I’ve traveled to 3 different countries in a week with only this backpack!”, kinda makes you proud doesn’t it?
Backpacking is extremely fun and gives a plethora of benefits. It teaches you important and valuable lessons in life and can turn you into a completely different person. Even though backpacking can be extremely cool to you, it isn’t the same for everyone. Some people could have way different ways to backpack, but that doesn’t matter. The way you backpack is your choice, what matters is that it makes you happy and a better person!
Given all these benefits, are you ready to go backpacking in Northern California now?
Here are some interesting places you might want to consider in your adventure:
Yosemite National Park
For over a hundred and 25 years, Yosemite National Park has been considered as a national treasure that offers exceptional views and mixture of natural resources all found in one location. With mountains and valleys around this national park, you are surely going to find something that interests you.
Among the most remarkable natural features in the area include ancient sequoias that have been standing in the park for many years. With its contrasting colors with the blue skies, getting your photos taken here would surely be a breathtaking experience. The half dome, which is a granite rock that forms into dome is also one of the best destinations that backpackers visit in Yosemite national Park.
If you want to take a glimpse of the most wonderful captures of this national park, there is also an available gallery where the works of Ansel Adams could be found. Beginning in 1927, he photographs he captured has been preserved to give visitors a peak on what the Yosemite National Park looked then compared to what looks now. This gallery aims to raise awareness among visitors and backpackers that taking care of the natural resources and beauty that they will see along the way will give them a chance to pass on the same invigorating experience they had with the upcoming generation of adventurers.
This high elevation meadow could also be found right within the Yosemite National Park.
It has an elevation of 8,600 feet which makes it a perfect picturesque of natural beauty that travelers and even natural scientists come to the park for to visit.
If you are backpacking in Northern California and you happen to pick Yosemite National Park to visit, make sure to pass through the Toulumne Meadows as well. The undisturbed and unexploited natural resources in the area makes it a perfect destination for those who want escape the busy city life.
- There are different public amenities for you to enjoy which includes the natural water slides, and the wildlife reserve that are protected within the park.
- Pick early morning to come to the park to avoid the crowd.
- The best time to enjoy the colors and the natural richness of the Yosemite National Park is during Spring Time, Summer, and Fall
- If you are coming into the park in a car, you must acquire a National Park Pass to enter.
- Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the park to avoid disturbing the natural balance of the ecosystem within the area.
Lost Coast Trail
Known for the King Range, the Lost Coast Trail is known to backpacking enthusiasts to be among the most interesting terrains to walk on especially to see unique views of the California Coastal Terrain. Several wildlife and flora could also be found within the 25-mile stretch of the trail.
For most backpackers, it takes them 3 days to complete the trip while they have stop overs within grand sites that allow them to take a rest from long hours of walking right within the sandy beaches that the trail is basically known for.
Things to remember when visiting the Lost Coast Trail:
- The trail only welcomes backpackers and not campers
- Make sure to carry lots of water during your visit to avoid dehydration along the way as you would be doing a lot of long walks and high hikes.
- There are many river crossings along the way so bring something that will protect your legs from being too wet. Also, prepare for short rests along the way to avoid leg exhaustion.
- It is best to visit and walk along this trail during spring, summer, or fall.
- The estimated distance of the trail is 24.60 miles or 35.59 kilometers.
- Pets are allowed along the trail; just make sure you mind where your pet poos and pees along the way
- Parking pass is not required to enter the trail- just be sure to take care of nature as you pass though
The Four Lakes Loop
If you want to go through the Long Canyon Trail, then you might as well visit the Four Lakes Loop. The view is simply breathtaking, and the fresh air is certainly inviting.
In this trip, you will be taken through to a 500,000 acers of land where the wilderness is rich. Trinity Alps is one of the targeted destinations here.
Things to remember when visiting the Four Lakes Loop:
- The trail is visited by only a few backpackers.
- It is reach in huge natural scenic views and wildflowers especially during the summer
- The lakes are open and safe for swimming
- The walk through the trail is strenuous and follows a dirt pathway
- The best time to visit the area is during the Summer and Fall Seasons
- The stretch of the trail is measured at 17.60 miles or 27.68 kilometers
- Pets are allowed along the trail
The Rae Lakes Loop
This destination for backpackers has everything to offer. From the connecting trail to the Kings Canyons National Park to all the specific beauties of passing along the trail such as waterfalls, carved canyons, and of course, lake basins, your trip to the Rae Lakes Loop will surely be a rewarding experience.
Based on experience, those who braved the trail to the Rae Lakes Loop went through multiday excursion that gave them a chance to embrace what the lakes loop has to offer.
Take note though that before you are allowed to go into through the trail, you will be asked to present a John Muir Trail Permit. This permit proves that you can survive the trail and that you have the right training to face the challenges that it presents to most visitors and travelers who want to experience the best backpacking in Northern California through this trail.
Things to remember when visiting the Rae Lakes Loop:
- The trails to and from the Rae Lakes Loop are well-maintained; hence, it is important to recognize strict environmental policies pursued in the area to keep its natural integrity
- Requires National Park Pass
- The trail length is assumed at 42 miles or 67.59 kilometers
- Pets are not allowed in the trail
The John Muir Trail
Running through California’s High Sierra between Yosemite National park and Mount Whitney, the John Muir Trail is certainly a place to put in your backpacking list. This is a 211 mile long trail.
If you want to get the best out of your visit at the John Muir Trail, make sure you visit vantage points and get the best photos of sunset and sunrise that can be seen right in between the two heights of mountains in the area.
Things to remember when visiting the John Muir Trail:
- The best scenic views in this trail could be seen through the high peaks of the trail
- There are three national parks that can be visited through the trail
- It is best to visit the John Muir Trail during the Summer to make sure of the grand display of natural beauty of the location and the neighboring national parks
- You need to get permit before you enter the trail. Take note that among those who have gone through the trail point out that getting the permit was not easy as there was a complex process to go through; nonetheless, all the time of waiting and the effort of getting the permit is worth it with all the memories and grand scenic views within the John Muir Trail.
- The total distance of the trail is 211 miles or 339.57 kilometers
- No pets are allowed in the trail
The Mount Whitney Cottonwood Pack Station
This destination is considered as the highest point included within the continental United States. With a 14,505 foot height, the trail is not that easy to accomplish. The Mount Whitney Cottonwood Pack Station certainly presents great challenge to backpacking travelers. This destination is also known to others as the Fisherman’s Peak.
Things to remember when visiting the Mount Whitney Cottonwood Pack Station:
- Because of the challenges that this peak presents, only a few hikers and backpackers actually want to engage in this trail; this makes the area much less dense in population compared to other areas in this list of best back packing in Northern California
- The route may be long but passing through it is fast
- The route is very dusty so prepare yourself for this challenge and perhaps light changes of shirts and pants to keep yourself refreshed along the way as you complete the trail.
- It is best to visit the Mount Whitney Cottonwood Pack Station during the summer to enjoy the best views in the area and reduce the risks as well.
- The trail’s stretch is measured at 63 miles or 101.39 kilometers
- Pets are not allowed to be taken through the trail
The Glacier Pass through the Sequoia National Park
The Glacier Pass goes through the Mineral King area. It provides rich and challenging hiking trail to backpacking travelers. This 25 mile trail provides long hiking loops and features a pass through the Big Five Lakes.
The Glacier Pass qualifies at the top list of serious backpackers. Although the pass only boasts shorter lengths compared with other locations noted in this list, it does present serious challenges and should be taken by experienced backpackers and hikers.
Among the scenic views boasted by the Glacier Pass include the alpine landscape, the long blends of natural colors that makes the whole trail relaxing and refreshing. Lake fishing is also highly recommended by those who have already experienced raveling through this trail.
. Things to remember when visiting the Mount Whitney Cottonwood Pack Station:
- The Glacier Pass presents good fishing experiences to backpackers.
- The area highlights a nice mix of trail while allowing a cross-pass to other interesting national parks
- The congestion in the area is low
- Backpackers are required to present a National Park Pass before they enter through the trail
- The access road to the rail is rough and challenging
- The total stretch of the trail is measured at 27 miles or 43.45 kilometers
- Pets are not allowed in the trail
Big Pine Creek
This trail rises towards the California High Sierra. It goes through toward glaciers within the southernmost parts of the United States. With the lakes below and grand glaciers above, the views in the trail are certainly unique and exceptional especially for backpacking enthusiasts.
The highest peak in the Big Pine Creek reaches up to 14,153 feet and is characterized by rock formations and rock climbs. This is why this trail may not be for first time backpacking enthusiast. Among the straights notably found in this trail include the Sierra Nevada Range.
Things to remember when visiting the Big Pine Creek:
- This trail is closed in winter to avoid accidents
- This trail offers cross-access to both the Palisades Range as well as the High Sierra
- Parking and Trail pass is not required for anyone to come and explore the place
- Pets are allowed in the trail
Sky Trail Loop
This trail is among the shortest trails in the list. With only 7 miles of hike, some may think that this is an easy path. It is, however, considered as one of the best rails for first time backpackers and hikers. This trail loop also offers a beautiful and accessible Sky Campground. If you are able to finish the trail early, you might just be able to reserve a space at the campground and enjoy the night in the area.
Things to remember when visiting the Sky Trail Loop:
- Surrounded by rich forest reserve, this trail gives you a chance to enjoy the luscious feel of being part of nature as you pass along the path.
- Because it is short and is best for first time backpackers, the area could be quite crowded
- You can visit the trail all year round and enjoy distinct natural views in the area as the season changes
- National Park pass is not required for you to explore this trail
- Pets are not allowed in the area
Skyline to the Sea Trail
Boasting a 28 mile stretch, this trail is rich with natural scenic views that serve as rewards for hardcore backpack travelers.
From Redwood trees to waterfalls and other nature-rich scenic views, everything is practically great and worth all the effort and experience to visit and walk through this trail.
An even better thing about this trail is that if you find yourself exhausted and want to cut the train in the middle of the path, you have the option of adjusting your course especially because of the camping grounds available for your use to rest and refresh.
Things to remember when visiting the Skyline to the Sea Trail
- The best about this trail is that there are campgrounds where backpackers can settle along the way
- The scenic views in the area present a great reward for hikers and backpackers who have gone through the long 28-mile path
- The congestion in the area is moderate, giving backpackers enough space to enjoy the gifts of this trail
- Pets are not allowed in the trail
Realizing the beauty of nature is one of the best breaks anyone could have from the fast-paced lifestyle that the world has been used to.
If you are aiming to experience the best backpacking in Northern California, you ought to pick one out from the list noted herein. California sure offers a lot to first time and experienced backpackers; may it be an experience in the grand city or embracing the gifts of nature. It is best to pick a location that best fits your expectations and give you the excitement you need or the realization that you deserve as a disruption to your daily busy lifestyle.
Remember that when you decide to go on a backpacking trip, you need to pack light and bring only the necessities in order to make sure that you would not lose your strength along the way. Besides water and food, remember to pack light clothes and add in extra basic medication for emergencies along the way. This shall keep you safe and help you avoid panic as you enjoy the scenic views that you will see in your chosen backpacking trail.