Coastal Hiking Areas

Pt Reyes National Seashore – Hiking from Palomarin Trailhead to Wildcat Campsite is nice, but the campsite is not great.   But the rest of the area is very beautiful.  Trails with ocean views (watch for whales and sea lions), and interesting Ranger Center, even an Earthquake Trail provide lots of opportunity for exploration.  Pt. Reyes is an excellent place for a backpacking overnight or day hike.

Ventana Wilderness – The coast south of Monterrey is considered one of the ten most beautiful areas of the world.  And the Ventana Wilderenss sits right in the middle of it all.  Recent fires have done a lot of damage, but the trails have reopened and are mostly accessible.  Its not unusual to see California Condors floating overhead, and there are occassional glimpses of the ocean from ridge trails.  The beauty of the Big Sur area and the hot springs attract lots of hikers, but not always the Scout kind. 

Big Basin – There are lots of trails, beautiful views, and backpacking campsites. Leaving from the Park Headquarters and hiking down to Twin Redwoods trail camp is a good twenty miles round trip (downhill on day one and uphill on day two) but after leaving the gear in camp, you can take a short (1.5 mile) side trip down to the beach and watch the windsurfers do aerial tricks. Berry Falls in the middle of Big Basin is also a popular destination. Just remember to bring your water filters because virtually all the water is too polluted to drink and keep an eye out for bananna slugs, rattlesnakes, ticks, and poison oak. All are part of the backpacking adventure, but you don’t want to sit on any of them!

Lost Coast – Although it seems like a big adventure to hike at a place called “Lost Coast’ the reality is that its also a lot of hard work. The beach is narrow and walking through the sand with a backpack loses its appeal after a mile or so. Permits are required for fires, and watch out. When our Troop was there, some local hikers noticed our fire and hiked out to inform the ranger – who showed up the next day and wrote the Troop a ticket for $200. (We didn’t have a permit.) Its the kind of place you go – once.

Marin Headlands – Beautiful views, easy access, and interesting things to see (Forts, Nike Missiles, Lighthouses, Beaches, lots of beautiful scenery) and do (hiking, camping, picnicking, and cycling).   Hiking can be scaled to the abilities of the group, from easy to difficult.    Check out this Marin Headlands hiking map. 

Bay Area Hiker – list of trails for the Penninsula and South Bay

One Response

  1. Big Basin has fantastic redwood lined trails anda easy to moderate elevation changes. This makes it very, very popular with day hikers. If you have a campground, drive directly to it, park there and leave the vehicle. Parking at the camp HQ is very difficult on weekends and the short trails next to the HQ are usually very crowded. The longer distance trials are typically wide open. The large group campsites are perfect for Cub Scout packs as they work well with families and are situated away from the general population. Racoons are abundant and very brave. Make sure your food is secured at night. (Mike Warriner , Troop 420)

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