4 min read
Between the beaches, the mountains, and the desert, California is one of the best places to get your fill of whatever nature fits your fancy.
While the idea of being able to ski and go to the beach in the same day is more myth than legend (although, may be able to be accomplished with lots of planning) that doesn’t mean that you can’t see it all through one of the many insanely beautiful through-hikes the state has to offer.
Car camping is, obviously, a fantastic way to escape and enjoy nature, but this is for those who need those few extra hours (and miles) separating them from cell service.
So if you’re in Southern California and want to trade the traffic for the trees, hit up these five great backpacking trails ASAP!
Craving some wilderness, but out of vacation days? Check out the best places for weekend backpacking right outside of LA.
1. Trans-Catalina Trail
Catalina is actually a popular weekend destination for hiking because of the Trans-Catalina Trail, which covers over 38 miles of the island. Take a ferry ride just off the coast of Long Beach and you’ll be at the island in under an hour.
The Catalina Island Conservancy offers mapped out routes with multiple campgrounds to plan a two or three-day trek. If you’re planning a shorter hike and looking for a bit more luxury, the small towns of Avalon and Two Harbors offer multiple places to stay and activities to do like kayaking or golf.
2. San Gorgonio
While Mt. Baldy may take you to the highest point in Los Angeles County, San Gorgonio takes you to the highest peak in Southern California with an elevation of 11,503 feet. Taking a drive to get to San Gorgonio will take you 1 hour and 30 minutes from the coast.
Staying overnight is a must if you want to get the best early morning views of the mountain. Spend your second-day at San Gorgonio fishing or walking the famous Santa Ana river trail. The location also offers biking trails and access to trail riding for the equestrians out there.
3. Bridge to Nowhere
Nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Bridge to Nowhere actually is a bridge that lives up to its name. When the road was first constructed back in 1938 it was built to link the San Gabriel Valley to Wrightwood, but a disastrous flood halted construction.
The bridge is now a famous pit stop taken while hiking the mountain, where you’ll likely find visitors bungee jumping and modern prospectors panning for gold in the river. While the trail itself is only five miles, fellow backpackers will camp out to enjoy a weekend away from it all.
If you are truly in need of a mini-vacation weekend, this 2 hour trip outside of Los Angeles has everything you need. Idyllwild is a historical small town originally built as a tuberculosis sanitarium in 1893. It then became a resort years later after some, of course, rebranding.
Best backpacking trail? Why not conquer Mt. San Jacinto? One of the three sisters, including Mt. Baldy and Gorgonio. Post-hike treat yourself to a nice hotel and a hot shower in nearby Palm Springs and gear up for the drive back home.
5. Pacific Crest Trail
A 2,665 mile trail that runs north and south from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail is famous for backpackers (like Reese Witherspoon’s character in the film adaptation of Wild) trying their luck at completing the trail, hoping to find themselves along the way.
While Cheryl Strayed may have tackled the entire in one go prior to writing Wild, the massive trail is also done by segment. Each segment typically takes about a long weekend. Be sure you have made travel arrangements for getting back to your car at the trailhead.
For moments when the trip gets tough, don’t be afraid to turn to cannabis. Please avoid bringing anything flammable on your trip and, instead, consider using edibles or a vape to help elevate your psyche as you elevate your altitude.