I want to spend a few days in California, near Nicasio, hiking and sleeping under the sky (no tent, just a tarp in case it rains). I have a lot of experiences in Europe, but I have never been in US. What things should I take in mind?

  • Is it generaly OK with the land owners? I have read sleeping might be a problem. What about hiking?
  • What potential predators are present in this area? Black bear, brown bear, grizzly, coyote, wolf, mountain lion? According to what I've found, there is only mountain lion and coyote. Black bear shouldn't be present around Nicasio
  • Is it generally desired to make fire? It might fend off predators, but could offend land owners?
  • 1
    related: outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/6026/…
    – user2169
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 16:02
  • @Thomas consider editing out the predator portion of the question as there's now a specific question for it.
    – ppl
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


The US doesn't have anything like the Scandinavian right to roam (Swedish allemansrätten, etc.). Private land is usually fenced, and it's against the law to enter private land while hiking without the landowner's permission.

The US term for wild camping is "backcountry camping" or "backpacking," as opposed to car camping, where you pay to park your car in a demarcated area of an organized campground, next to other people.

The US has a complicated system of government lands that are protected from development and that are accessible to everyone. These include national parks, national forests, and state parks. Nicasio is in an area called Marin County. If you look at a map of the area, you'll see a variety of wilderness areas, such as Point Reyes National Seashore. If you want to camp, you need to go online and look up the information for the specific area. For instance, information for Point Reyes National Seashore is here.

Is it generally desired to make fire? It might fend off predators, but could offend land owners?

Basically, don't build fires. The wilderness areas of California are delicate and have large numbers of human visitors. The days are gone when it was acceptable to have this kind of impact on them. Conscientious backpackers these days follow the philosophy of "leave no trace." There are specific regulations in specific areas, but basically the landscape just can't handle being picked over by humans for firewood. 2014 is also one of the driest years in the last century, so the last thing we need is people starting forest fires.

I've started a separate question about dangerous wildlife in California.

The area you're going to is extremely beautiful. Have fun!

  • +1 thank you Ben! Especially for the link to the Point Reyes, very interesting! So it seems like my hiking should restrict to natural parks and follow the rules of each and every one of them, right?
    – Tomas
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 19:41
  • would you be able to find the oficial information for "Indian Tree Preserve" in this area? I have not been able to find it.
    – Tomas
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 19:41

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