10 California Backpacking Trips on My Bucket List

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Getting this list down to 10 was tough.

I remember my first backpacking trip in California like it was yesterday. I was working at a summer camp on Fallen Leaf Lake and my day-off crew decided to head up to Aloha Lake to spend the night at the “Waterfall Camp.” We made our way past several smaller alpine lakes, scrambled across giant granite boulders around the edge of the Aloha Lake and set up camp in an oasis surrounded by granite walls overlooking the lake. After an early morning dip, we summited Price and Aggasiz and eventually made our way back down to camp for something like 15 miles round trip.

From the first mile out to finally crashing on my bed in my cabin, all I could think was how long I’d lived in California – about five years at that point – and how many nights I’d spent in the backcountry – a big fat zero. Since then I’ve managed to step my game up a bit, but California is freakin’ huge and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t see all the places I want to in five lifetimes. You gotta start somewhere though, right? I’ve narrowed my to-do list down to these 10 backpacking trips, so take a look and let me know if you have any favorites that I left off.

1. Backpack to Grizzly Lake

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest is a name I’ve heard thrown around over and over. With the promise of this jaw-dropping waterfall and as a guy who likes to pretend that he can fly-fish, this one was an easy pick for me.

2. Backpack the Lost Coast

I can’t think of a lot of places more rugged than the Northern California Coast and who doesn’t love waking up to the sounds of crashing waves?

3. Backpack in Redwood National and State Park

In the last couple years living in San Francisco I’ve gained a love of surfing (surfing in my case means getting my ass handed to me at Ocean Beach) and a love of Redwoods (Muir Woods is less than an hour from my house). This trip combines them both so naturally, I gotta do it.

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