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I just learned that I am going to end up in San Francisco for 2 weeks in early April. I will be meeting a couple of relatives there who will travel from tropical places, so they won't have a lot of "winter" gear. We would like to go on a 10 day hiking/wild camping trip in the area, so I was hoping to get some ideas.
At first I thought about going to Yosemite park, but I read it will be quite snowy at this time of the year.

Any suggestion welcome

  • See also this question which contains some links to resources that may be useful. – gerrit Feb 15 '17 at 14:56
  • 10 days of camping is a lot, for even well experienced folks with all the right equipment. You may want to reconsider the length of this trip and do something else fun while they are in town. – SnakeDoc Feb 15 '17 at 22:53
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I would recommend going to Los Padres National Forest including the Ventana Wilderness in the Santa Lucia Range. No chance of snow there as even the highest mountain does not exceed 1800 metre and most time will be spent at lower elevations. And if you head to summits near the coast you have great views of the Big Sur. You will probably need a car to get to the trailhead. I've hiked along the Big Sur around Christmas time and it was very beautiful and pleasantly warm. You will not need any winter gear¹.

Yosemite is too high, you will need snowshoes to hike there in April. You can also do great hiking in Death Valley or elsewhere in the deserts of Southern California but that is much farther from San Francisco, and much drier. There's certainly coastal areas north of San Francisco as well but I haven't been there so can't comment on those.


¹This may depend on your definition of winter, though. Make sure you study typical night time temperatures for the area and bring appropriate clothes and sleeping bags.

  • Everywhere I go to read about park regulation, I read things like "As a result of the 2016 Soberanes Fire, the US Forest Service closed the entire Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest." which worries a me a bit... – Quentin Geissmann Feb 27 '17 at 17:20
  • @QuentinGeissmann Oh, I have no clue about that! I was there December 2014 and then the problems were rather floods than fires. – gerrit Feb 27 '17 at 17:24
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I would suggest looking at the Point Reyes National Seashore, close to Petaluma, less than a hour north of San Francisco. It is a beautiful area ranging from thick woods to large open bluffs to the seashore. Because it is on the coast, the weather is much more temperate than up in the mountains. There are more miles of trails than you could explore in one trip.

Camping is only allowed in four designated campgrounds. They all require a hike to get there, and they must be reserved well in advance before they fill up. This area takes its reservations (and other rules) seriously, so I wouldn't try to wing it. I expect they have to be strict or they would be overrun, being so close to the SF area.

When we were there, about 15 years ago, we stayed for three nights in the Wildcat Camp. It was about 6 miles in to the campsite. I'm sure that you could coordinate a trip that would take you to different sites over multiple days.

One word of warning: the deer ticks were prevalent. Perhaps they won't be in early April, but they certainly were in August :)

  • Point Reyes is gorgeous! – Ben Crowell Feb 17 '17 at 23:09

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