10 Overnight Backpack Trips in Southern California

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The word is out. Southern California has a veritable plethora of hiking trails. And a plethora and a half of hikers exploring them. 99.9% of hikers are firmly in the day-hike only camp, and usually it’s just a matter of not knowing how to start and where to go to gain some backpacking experience.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of ten great overnight backpacking trips. Most of these trips can be modified to make them easier or more challenging, depending on what you’re after. But they all provide a taste of outdoor adventure that can be enjoyed by anyone with a free night.

1. Crystal Cove State Park

Most people don’t realize this, but Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County has several backcountry camps that you can use — and they have sweeping ocean views! The trails are busy during the day, but you can hike up and setup your camp after work and still have time to cook dinner and watch the sunset. And as the sun goes down, the day-hiker (and mountain biker) crowds go with it, leaving you with a pretty sweet view.

Why this trip rocks? My friend Tracy uses this park for what she calls a “gear shakedown” before any bigger trips, testing new gear in a relatively low-risk situation. It’s a great way to dip your toes into backpacking without traveling far.

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