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Suggestions for beginner backpacking trip in Bay Area
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Stanley Chen
(silentbeat07) - MLife
Suggestions for beginner backpacking trip in Bay Area on 03/03/2012 04:11:37 MST Print View

Need some suggestions for a 3 days 2 nights trip for 2 beginners during early April. We wanted to do STTS but turns out the trail camps don't open until May.

Thinking about Ohlone Wilderness Trail (Del Valle to Stanford Ave), is it too intense for beginners?

We are in good shape but I have never planned a trip, only followed others.

Any thoughts and suggestions welcome.

Edited by silentbeat07 on 03/03/2012 04:20:26 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Suggestions for beginner backpacking trip in Bay Area on 03/03/2012 07:42:13 MST Print View

a few more specifications would be helpful... most important is what sort of physical shape are the participants - distances / day and are there any extra considerations like needing something "extra fun" for younger kids. General plug, Heid's Camping and Backingpacking near San Francisco covers the options pretty well. Two useful resources are bahiker and kevin's hiking page. IN general I wouldn't think of Ohlone as being too intense, but I am not particularly fond of it either. I think there is better scenery other places, and you places that feel more like wilderness.

Edited by verber on 03/03/2012 07:44:22 MST.

Frank H.
(porker110) - M

Locale: California
Beginner on 03/03/2012 10:06:26 MST Print View

You can check out Henry Coe state park. It does have it's ups and downs, but i think its do-able for a beginner.


Michael Sagehorn
(msagehorn) - F
Ohlone Trail is a good's another on 03/03/2012 22:02:38 MST Print View

I enjoy hiking close to my Oakland hills house without the hassle of driving. The Ohlone trail is a nice getaway and hiking from Del Valle to Sunol is a good overnight hike. People can pick you up OR you can arrange for a cab--likely pricing, to pick you up to take you back to a BART station

Another beginner trip is hiking to one of the two backpacker camps in the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park in Antioch. You have to carry in water, but it can seem like a near wilderness at night.

Another hike is to hike from the Mitchell Canyon parking lot at Mt. Diablo to the campground below the summit, 2nd day hike east to a campsite near the Morgan Territority Preserve, (, and the following last day hike further east to the Round Valley preserve near Brentwood where you can e picked up OR arrange a cab ride to Antioch to catch Amtrak.

I've done all three with Scout groups.

James Winstead

Locale: CA
Pt. Reyes on 03/03/2012 23:31:04 MST Print View

I havent done the ohlone trail so can't comment on that one, but if your agenda with new hikers is to get them to love it then you can't really go wrong with pt reyes. The trails are relatively easy and can link beaches, waterfalls, amazing views and so on. Also, actual toilets at some of the camp sites are nice for new people... Especially of the female variety. My wife loves wildcat camp for just that reason.

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Ohlone Wilderness on 03/04/2012 02:08:20 MST Print View

I wouldn't recommend Ohlone Wilderness as your first trip. I did it with some friends last May, from Sunol to Lake Del Valle. It was hot and fairly steep, and while the scenery is pleasant, it most certainly isn't a wilderness, despite the name -- most of it is cow pastures. There is only one allowed campsite, which is 10 miles from the trailhead on either end; that leaves you with no flexibility if someone in your group finds that distance to be more than they can comfortably handle. You really have no choice but to keep going until you get to camp. On the plus side, it's just about impossible to get lost.

If you're at all like me, it will take a few trips to learn what's a comfortable distance to travel in a day, and it's probably better, for the first time, to plan for too few miles than too many. If you get to camp early, you can always do a bit of day hiking from there.

I will second the recommendation for Point Reyes. It has several choices of campsites and many options of varying distances for routes to those sites. No matter which route you choose, the scenery is gorgeous, and I've never seen another place with so many different kinds of terrain and vegetation in such a small area.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Point Reyes on 03/05/2012 10:31:23 MST Print View

Third nomination for Point Reyes.

Remember, if you have a beginner backpacker, even if that person is in excellent shape, a lot of times the equipment issues (comfortable pack, shoes that don't blister) are not quite tweaked yet. I'm conservative with new hikers, usually picking a location that does not require hiking more than 4-6 miles in. If everyone still has energy and good feet after arriving at camp, you can set down your pack and explore further.

In my experience, first-time backpackers also really relish a layover day for dayhiking.

Pt. Reyes is perfect for this. Lots of day-hiking destinations easily reached if you stay in the same camp for 2 nights. Make your reservations online the first hour they become available. I'd recommend Wildcat Camp. (It fills instantly, so be ready.) Sky Camp is another good choice.

Watch the raccoons. They are VERY persistent in going after food.

Agreed that Ohlone is not the very most scenic. I use it more in a training frame of mind ("need to train on some big hills").

- Elizabeth

Stanley Chen
(silentbeat07) - MLife
thank you on 03/05/2012 11:41:52 MST Print View

Thank you guys for all the suggestions. Definitely considering Pt. Reyes now.
Is overnight parking allowed here?

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: thank you on 03/05/2012 20:51:37 MST Print View

Yes, there are several places that overnight parking is permitted at Pt. Reyes. As others have indicated, Pt Reyes has a lot going for it for first timers. This is where my friends and I took our pre-teen girls to introduce them to backpacking. It's still one of their favorite destinations. On the weekends there are also the occasional horse (which is a big hit with our girls), Coastal camp typically has a rope swing. Wildcat has the waterfall and the whale bones. Very moderate hills… water on site site real toilets. Sky camp gives you a bit more of a work out… our girls didn't like it as much.

Henry Coe can work reasonable well, especially if you have people who want to backpack a bit, and day hike a bit.

For people who are fit, Sykes Hot Springs in Ventana wilderness can work well. I have taken several groups of college students who were out for the first time here. 10 miles each way, approx 3000ft up / 2000ft down over the course of the hike. You know you have worked for it. But then you get a hot spring to soak in.


Stanley Chen
(silentbeat07) - MLife
Thank you! on 03/06/2012 11:21:49 MST Print View

Thanks for everyone's suggestions.

We are definitely doing Pt. Reyes now after more research.