Immerse Yourself In California's Best Hiking/Camping

By Ethan Berman on May 22, 2016

Water? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Sunglasses? Check.

With the weather heating up, why not enjoy your summer exploring the plethora of hiking and camping that California has to offer? With California boasting some of the best natural landscape in the United States, how do you narrow it down to the best hiking trails and places to pitch-up for the night?


You can’t bring up hiking without mentioning the holy grail of California: the Yosemite Valley. Try looking into the Vernal Falls — and if you’re lucky (most likely you will be this year with the increase in rainfall this year) the falls will be in full-force. As the trail proves to have a steeper grade — even more-so if you hike to the top — it is worth the effort.

If you feel daring and are more experienced in hiking/backpacking, scaling The Mist Trail on Half Dome is quite the experience. Though Yosemite boasts some of the best natural landscape in the world, it is a popular destination, so if you plan on camping make sure to reserve roughly 9-12 months in advance. The Mist Trail requires a permit, so make sure to apply for those ahead of time if you plan on tackling Half Dome.


Unlike Yosemite’s towering granite monoliths, visiting the Sequoia giants is quite a different experience. Surrounded by groves with massive trunks, and equally impressive in height, the Sequoias are not to be overlooked. To begin, the trail on Moro Rock is incredible. The path takes you on the ridge known as The Great Divide, and provides amazing views of the valleys beneath.

Additionally, hit the trail off of the General’s Highway to find the General Sherman Sequoia. Known as the largest Sequoia on Earth, it is an amazing experience to feel ant-like next to this natural wonder. If you are considering camping, also plan ahead as it proves to be popular.


Raised in Sonoma County, Armstrong Woods is my personal favorite. Located a few miles outside of Guerneville in Northern California, Armstrong woods provides an incredible scenic adventure. Surprisingly cool due to the sheer amount of light coverage by the redwoods, it is an excellent place for a quiet escape and breathtaking natural landscape.

Relatively small compared to the previously listed National Parks, it is a diamond in the rough. The main trail running through Armstrong Woods is the Bullfrog Pond route, which also houses a campground. I highly recommend looking into Armstrong Woods, as it proves to be a quiet, serene escape that is not constantly flooded with visitors.


Just south of Santa Cruz with Highway 1 snaking along the coast, Big Sur is absolutely stunning. While visiting the McWay Falls may be the most iconic of trips at Big Sur, the area boasts some of the most intriguing trails. As some of the trails prove difficult to access (some areas require you to park on the side of the highway), they are extremely fun as you can find tunnels and streams to explore.

If you’re early enough on planning your trip (planned for March/April), you may be in luck to catch the whales migrating along the coastline. The campground is excellent for the price, as the grounds are clean and accommodate for RV, trailer, and tent camping.

With summer around the corner, why not try to snag a spot on a whim, or just make the trip to experience the scenery — I guarantee you will enjoy it.

By Ethan Berman

Uloop Writer
Senior at UC Davis. Working toward a B.A. in Art History.

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