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Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions
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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/20/2011 14:19:25 MST Print View

I'm not from the San Francisco area but am having a hard time finding a loop around the area that's about 18-25 miles long for Fri (day+night)&Sat(night). Scenic is nice, water along route is required (shouldnt be hard, it's supposed to rain Wednesday), and that's kind of it. I want to sleep in my tent, no pre-built campsites required. I like to avoid paying camping and park entree feed where I can.

Thanks for any and all input. I'd have loved to do the mountains to water type trail ending at Santa Cruz but it's not a loop =/.

Stephan Doyle
Re: Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/20/2011 23:09:29 MST Print View

How close to SF are you trying to stay?

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Re: Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/21/2011 02:28:49 MST Print View

^^What he said^^
You might look at big basin, or Point Reyes. Both are about 1.5 hours from SF, and both are really beautiful areas. Both have water, and both should be able to provide loops of the length you are looking for.

Edited by stingray4540 on 11/21/2011 02:57:38 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/21/2011 06:30:55 MST Print View

Might have to suck it up and pay some fees.

James Winstead

Locale: CA
RE: Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/21/2011 14:03:53 MST Print View

I agree with Ken, that you might be hard pressed to not pay a fee...

Check out the Ohlone Trail and the Skyline to the Sea Trail. Both kind of mini-through hikes. Might have to work out a shuttle though.

Also Henry Coe is a gigantic State park with lots of opportunities. bout 1.5 to 2 hours south.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
it's a big place on 11/21/2011 14:44:34 MST Print View

I agree with the others - your ideal destination might depend on your individual logistics.

You're from Long Beach. So are you driving up and back? (In which case, you really have the option of backpacking ANYWHERE between the Bay Area and the L.A. area...And the crappier the weather, the further south you should go IMO.)

Or are you flying in? Which airport? Renting a car, or needing to be dropped off? Where will you be on Thurs night?

- Elizabeth

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/21/2011 15:04:52 MST Print View

I'd ideally like to stay within an hour of San Fran, but it looks less and less possible because you're right there are some sweet parks about 1.5 hours out.

I'm from Long Beach, but I'm carpooling to San Fran, then need to head back to San Fran before coming back, so I don't have the middle to work with really. I will have use of a car though.

Thanks for the mini-thru options, but while I love them I just find arranging a shuttle type scenario a pain in the bum. I've tried to convince the girlfriend to drive 1.5-2 hours x 2 (there and back) x 2 (to drop off and pick up) but it ain't happening.

I'll check out Point Reyes and Big Basin.

I know I'll likely have to pay some fees, I just didn't want to do that whole $30 park next to a premade site just to go off into the woods thing, or similar.

Thanks for the help guys & gals

stephan q
(khumbukat) - F
Pt Reyes on 11/21/2011 16:46:54 MST Print View

The best loop I can think of would be

Park at Bear Valley Visitor center/trailhead. Free parking. No Park entrance fee.

1st night at Coast Camp. About 6-7 mi from trailhead.

2nd night at Wildcat camp. Hike the Coast Trail from Coast Camp. Set up camp and hike 1 mile south on beach to visit Alamere Falls. About 10 mi.

Return to Bear Valley via Glen Camp Trail. 7-8 mi.

You can reverse this trip, and the direction you go will be decided by the permit/reservation system. Camping is $15 per site per night. Call in advance for permits. 415-464-5100. stephan

Edited by khumbukat on 11/21/2011 16:48:03 MST.

James Winstead

Locale: CA
RE: Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/21/2011 21:03:17 MST Print View

Stephen's is a great loop. You can also do it similarly from the Palomarin Trailhead at the south end of Pt. Reyes. You go through Bolinas on the way there which is a decent stop for lunch or just general hippie gawking.

stephan q
(khumbukat) - F
Hippies on 11/21/2011 21:13:04 MST Print View

Sorry, not in season right now. They're all trimming bud, or heading south at this time of year. Great birding on the Lagoon though. stephan

Edited by khumbukat on 11/21/2011 21:16:07 MST.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/22/2011 00:32:59 MST Print View

FYI, Big basin and Point Reyes have pre-determined camp sites, that charge a fee per night, and you have to make reservations. If you want a place where you can camp wherever the hell you want, and no need to make a reservation, then check out Henry W. Coe State Park, as was previously mentioned.

It is a huge park with terrain that will get your heart pumping. You don't need a reservation, just show up and self register at the parking lot. There are several entrances to the park, and the area immediately surrounding the main entrance has camping spots and reservations, etc. But once you get past those, or if you enter at a different entrance, you can camp wherever you feel like. It has a much different landscape than the coasting forests of Big Basin and Point Reyes, but it is beautiful in it's own right, and lot more wild.

It is 2.5 hours from SF according to Google maps though...

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Henry Coe on 11/22/2011 12:38:24 MST Print View

It may be that far from SF....but it's on the way from and to Long Beach. Your ride can drop you off and pick you up, and some of the trailheads are only 30 minutes or so from 101.

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
Henry Coe and South Bay camping on 11/22/2011 17:32:39 MST Print View

Henry Coe is about 1.75 hours from SF. The more 'free camping' section entrance is basically in Gilroy.
I live in San Jose, about an hour from SF and it's about 45 minutes from me (I live right off Hwy85)

It's not as nice as the coastal regions, though. The SF mountains along the west side of the Silicon Valley are, IMHO, substantially nicer than the East Bay hills, not to mention if you end up on the ocean side.

There are probably some spots up north of SF. It's much closer to "wilderness" if you go north of SF instead of coming down south.

The "hike to the sea" trail that you mentioned is generally Big Basin. The issue about getting there from SF is that you have to not only come south to it, but then up into the mountains from there. (eg, 101->85->17s->Mount Herman or down Highway 1 to Hwy9/or 17N which is beautiful but slow.) Big Basin, though, does have entrance/camping fees even for their hike-in sites. But then, so does Henry Coe so... /shrug.

Not many places allow wild-camping, or won't charge you access/parking fees. Welcome to California. You might look up the Mount Diablo area in the East Bay; I don't know much about that area.

Good luck, and let us know where you end up and how it goes!


Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/28/2011 12:04:06 MST Print View

Thanks for the suggestions all.

I did end up going north to Point Reyes, which was a very cool drive along the 1.

I wanted to camp at Wildcat (beach), but it was full so I chose to camp at Glen ("secluded" woods). Camping was $15 a night, which is pretty reasonable considering the parking was free and there was no entry fee. I'd still have rather wild camped, but eh that's personal preference.

The trail was pretty crowded near the start with a lot of gravel (leaving from Bear Valley I believe). It's a bike path, and a horse path, so that made sense but was a bit of a bummer.

It was nice though, very damp woods unlike my local haunts.

I put my stuff down at Glen. There was a group of three kind of loud dudes that I was supposed to camp next to (I had assigned site #3). I decided that since when I booked it Wednesday they said no one else had reserved it was fair to switch sites, which I did. It got crowded later in the night with the majority of sites taken, but everyone was pretty respectful. The sites were SOAKED, the benches are wet, the ground is wet, that was interesting. They had food lockers.

I took a hike down to Wildcat camp which was breathtaking and I'd highly recommend staying there. I took the coastal trail down and it was really awesome to hear the waves as I hiked.

The second day I went to Arch rock which was similarly beautiful. High cliffs, waves crashing, very sunny. It was a great place to dry my tent off. I just hung out there for an hour or so, very peaceful.

The way out was crowded, but as I opted to again take the main road that was expected.

Overall pretty cool, an hour away, and what beats hiking by the beach? =)

Thanks all for your recommendations and advice!

Edited by Trout on 11/28/2011 12:05:28 MST.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Trek near San Fran: Need Suggestions on 11/30/2011 02:51:34 MST Print View

Ah, you didn't go up and check out the Elk herd at Tomales point?! Bummer, that's a great day hike out to the point. A bit crowded, but beautiful none the less.
Sorry to hear you spent most of your hike on the bike trail(fire road).