5 Amazing Backpacking Trips in Northern California

a backpacker walks through a sun dappled forest

If hiking through lush forests or camping out by the salty sea is on your bucket list, you’re in luck! Northern California has tons of great backpacking trails that attract thousands of outdoorsy visitors each year. From the lapping waves of the Pacific to the ancient, looming redwoods, you’ll see the natural beauty of this state firsthand when you gear up for one of these backpacking trips in Northern California.

An Itinerary for Northern California Backpacking Trips

At the Inns of Glendeven, we often get adventurous guests who spend vacations hiking and camping the many Northern California parks. Our restful property is the perfect stop along the to relax and restore before getting back on the trails! Here is our guide to a great backpacking trip through Northern California that will help you plan the experience of a lifetime.

Follow our backpacking itinerary and start north in Eureka, then work your way south through the redwoods, along the California coast, through the King Mountain Range, and end in Mendocino for a cozy bed and delicious breakfast at the Inns of Glendeven!

1. The Lost Coast Trail

Start your backpacking adventure in Eureka, California, where an isolated pocket of black sand beaches, mature redwood groves, and fern-shrouded creeks will take your breath away. You’ll start by crossing Orchard Creek beneath a tall cluster of red alders to pick up the Lost Coast Trail, then follow the creek to Bear Harbor. You’ll be able to take in stunning views of the California Coast from a steep bluff that overlooks the sea, and can continue to the campsites near a black sand beach. To get a true taste of the Lost Coast, we recommend that you allow 3 days for this incredible 33-mile Northern California backpacking excursion.

2. Humboldt Redwoods State Park

After you explore the Lost Coast, head about an hour southeast to Humboldt Redwoods State Park where you’ll see some of the world’s most majestic ancient redwood groves. The park spans over 53,000 acres and contains a diverse coastal ecosystem, the Rockefeller Forest, the largest remaining old-growth forest in the world, and the entire Bull Creek watershed. With more than 250 campsites, 100 miles of backpacking trails, and the scenic 32-mile Avenue of the Giants, this state park will give you an awe-inspiring backpacking journey through the California redwoods.

3. King Range National Conservation Area

After you visit Humboldt State Park, continue an hour southwest to The King Mountain Range, which contains over 80 miles of backpacking trails that span from the beach to its highest peaks. Most of the upland trails are strenuous due to the steep, rugged nature of the area, but the views won’t leave you disappointed! The King Range backcountry was designated as official wilderness on October 17, 2006, so expect minimal signing on trails. We recommend that you carry a map and compass with you and find out the latest trail conditions before your trip.

4. Jackson State Forest

From the mountains, make your way 3 hours down the state until you reach Jackson State Forest. Established in 1949, this 48,652-acre forest has three demonstration trails that inform visitors about the ecology, history, and management of the redwood forest. Numerous hiking trails are situated in interesting settings, including Waterfall Grove Trail and the Forest History Trail. Seasonal camping is offered mid-May through September, with two overnight camping areas that have picnic tables, fire pits, and toilets, making it a convenient stop for backpackers.

5. Van Damme State Park

For the final stop on your Northern California backpacking trip, head a half hour southwest to Van Damme State Park on the Mendocino coast. Featuring some of the best Mendocino Trails, this park has both beach and upland and is home to the Fern Canyon scenic trail system, the Pygmy forest, and a bog where skunk cabbage grows. Plus, you’ll be just minutes away from your ultimate destination – our inns! The park surrounds the Inns of Glendeven on three sides, and you can explore the headlands to the west, the wooded trails along Fern Canyon to the east, and south to Van Damme beach, which is right out the front door of our Beach Trail Cottage.

Restore at the Inns of Glendeven in Mendocino

After days (or maybe even weeks!) spent backpacking in Northern California, treat yourself to some much-needed rest and relaxation at our cozy bed and breakfast. You’ll experience total comfort and pampering and can reminisce about the incredible sights and memories you made on your trip.

Torrey Douglass