I am looking for recommendations on a backpacking trip in California. I live in the Bay Area and am open to driving pretty much anywhere in the state, though ideally within 4-8 hours of the Bay.
I am 33 years old and have been backpacking since I was a kid, so I consider myself as a high experience level. Longest trip I've done is 12 days, 106 miles, and 28,500 feet of gain/drop, which was through SEKI. I've done tons of week-ish trips in the 50-80 mile ranges.
I am looking for a trip for next July or August that is roughly 60-80 miles in length and can be made into a loop, or lollipop.
I only want to avoid the southern half of the JMT, as I've completed that already through the Big SEKI Loop and the HST, but would be open to jumping on the northern sections since I haven't done them yet.
I love the Sierras, but open to other areas.
My plan is to also add 2-3 days to however long it would typically take to complete so that I can do a zero day or two at a lake/river, or include 1-2 really short days.
Thank you my friends for any recommendations!
Have you looked at the Relief Reservoir to Kennedy Lake Loop? As a stand-alone, only 55 miles, but there are many trails by which you could expand your hike. Are you confident with map and compass (or GPS)? You may need to navigate carefully after leaving Kennedy Lake and climbing up to mile 12. However, there are many lovely spots to stop at a number of lakes. See Alltrails for details.
Assuming the Sierras haven't completely burned to a nub by then, there are lots of loops you can put together in Yosemite. If you are really keen there is the Yosemite High Route which has a fair amount of off trail...bit longer than you want but you might be able to do a section.
The Tahoe Rim Trial is 170 miles but you could do the Western half and easily connect with Transportation to start or end it. You could just spend time exploring Desolation Wilderness and Granite Chief...no need to be confined to a "trail". DW is an amazing place although it is very popular in July, August so solitude may be hard to come by if that is what you are looking for.
I used to live in SF ("Snob" Hill), LOTS of good backpacking and bikepacking! I was even into sailing and racing Hawaiian outriggeroutrigg back then.
I'm guessing you're already familiar with the HSR, the TRT, the SFBT, the BFT, etc., and you already mentioned the JMT, but have you tried the LCT? (Lost Coast Trail).
I'm pretty sure it's the only coastal trail in CA that doesn't include a road of some kind. Although it's not quite "80 miles", there are parts in the northern section that can be tricky (water crossings), but you sound experienced enough, or I wouldn't suggest it (Do have a tide table!).
The southern section is more tame, but ALL of it should qualify as a bucket list to-do. If you haven't done it, DO IT!!!