Approaching five years living in California, I have been looking backwards to reminisce on adventures past, and thinking forward to the things I still want to do on the west coast. There have been a lot of highlights over the years (hiking Half Dome, climbing Mt. Whitney, visiting most of the national parks, to name a few!), but there is much more to see. Though I do have some city specific activities I want to cross off my list, here are the five most exciting outdoor adventure trips I want to take:
Hike the lost coast trail
This stretch of desolate California coastline is an incredible opportunity to hike along the beach and play your luck with the tide tables. It is a 25.3 mile hike one way which is best done over the course of 3 days (and you would need to either leave a car on either end or take a shuttle to get back). This trail now requires permits (contrary to what most people have written online) and books out a few months in advance (for the King Range Wilderness).
Hike the John Muir trail
This hike is the pinnacle experience of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), as it winds through the Sierra mountains. By hiking it, you get to visit Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Yosemite and Ansel Adams Wilderness, as well as the backside of Mt. Whitney (read about climbing the direct route here!). It is 211 miles long and usually takes about 3 weeks.
Hike the High Sierra Mountain Camp Loop
This is more of an opportunity to glamp in the wilderness, but this 50 mile loop allows you to either camp in 5 cabins along the route or just pay for the dinner and breakfast along the trail. You have to apply for the lottery to stay in the cabins, or apply for the meal-only permits 24 weeks in advance. More information can be found here.
Explore Hetch Hetchy
Though I have visited Yosemite on many occasions, seeing the high country of Tuolumne, the east side, and the world famous valley floor, I have never been to Hetch Hetchy! John Muir fought to preserve this area of the park, but failed as the valley was filled to create a reservoir so that the people of San Francisco could have clean drinking water. It is still quite hike-able and beautiful though, and accessible more of the year due to its’ lower elevation than the rest of the park.
Visit all 7 National parks in California
The last park on my list is Channel Islands National Park. This park is only accessible by plane or ferry from the Santa Barbara area. You can day hike or camp on the islands (there are 8 total in California, 5 of which are part of the National Park). The other 6 national parks that were part of this bucket list item were: Lassen Volcanic National Park (post here), Redwoods National Park (post here), Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park (a post about those three parks can be found here), and Pinnacles National Park (post here). There are technically many more national monuments, trails, and historic parks as well which I am not including in this list, but are incredibly worthwhile!