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Seeking recommendations for Northern California backpacking destinations (Covid-times)

Hey guys!

We live in San Francisco, and are having a hard time figuring out where to go for a two-ish night backpacking trip. Given that it's early in the season, and we aren't from here (Ottawa, Canada) we aren't sure where may still have snow, and what won't. 

Did Trinity alps a few weekends ago (Great trip, happy to share tips) and now looking for something a little closer. Can't for the life of me figure out a decent plan in Mendocino, (too many trailheads) and Lassen is apparently swampy with snow (As of June 10th)

 Happy to share what I do know if anyone can provide a reco? 


2 Replies

@maggiesch I don't think snow is a major worry this year in the Sierras...the SierraSnow Depth map shows nearly none.  Last year there was no Sierra showing in June where this year it is all showing except for occasional patches.

The problem is more that parks are still restricted due to the pandemic.  The places local to  Point Reyes, Big Basin, Mt Diablo etc generally require reservations that are usually in high demand and must be reserved 6 months in advance.  However there may be some first come first served walking permits available once they open.

In prior years 40% of the wilderness permits for Yosemite were first come first served but this year they appear to have changed to a 14-9 day reservation system...hopefully temporarily.

Tahoe is the another "local" place and Desolation Wilderness is very popular...permits required but dispersed camping is generally allowed in National Forests with some restrictions.

National forest areas in the Sierras often don't require permits for overnight dispersed camping but you need to check with the local forest service.

There are of course lots of excellent hiking trails in the bay area.


Hey OldGuyot!

Thanks so much for your thought-out reply! I will for sure look into your recommendations!

As an aside, (and FYI for this sub) we did end up trying to go backpacking in Mendocino National Forrest. I spoke to a few rangers on the phone who gave me the name of two trailheads, and ensured me that they followed a river. (Sounds nice right?) The first one we tried was Travelers Home, and it started out nice enough. But then almost 1/2 mile in things got really overgrown. We kept going as we had plenty of daylight, and even the local ranger in person had suggested we go there. 1.5 miles in things became impassable, and we could no longer find the trail. We have NEVER had to turn back, but alas, there was no water, and no where to pitch a tent. So out we went, (honestly not even a hard decision) and we left a note on the sign in sheet. We also tried another trailhead just down the road called Hellhole, and it was even worse. The notes on the sign in sheet said you couldn't even go 100 yards.

So I would avoid this place you guys. We got covered in ticks, saw very little water, and tons of poison oak. But got a nice hike out of it I guess... (once all the ticks were gone haha) 

I'll look into your suggestions above, and thanks again!