California State Parks Backpacking Adventures

Summer 2022 Registration Open Now!

Click Here to Register for 2022

Imagine if the Santa Cruz Mountains could speak....

Travel from spectacular ridgelines, through old growth redwood forests, to sandy shores with our knowledgeable team of backcountry naturalists. We will share the secrets of this precious wilderness and give you a window into the lives of the people who lived here for thousands of years.


2022 Trip Descriptions Here


Basic Trip Information

All mileage is based on the 2015 edition of the Redwood Hikes map of the Bay Area. Some GPS and other personal trackers may provide alternative mileage results.

Participants must be able to hike 2-3 miles/hour with a 20lb pack.


  • WE provide:
    - water filters
    - hot water for AM/PM meals
    - traditional teas
    - *Shuttle between start and ending location for The Skyline Sojourn adventure
  • YOU provide:
    transportation to starting location
    - bring all your own food
    - be able to hike up to 11 miles per day
    - tent/sleeping bag/ sleeping pad
    - all equipment on checklist

To complete registration, it is mandatory to submit the Liability Release Form and the Photo Release Form(optional). To download these forms, please click here.

Participation is open to adults 18 or over, and children ages 13 to 17 accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Cancellation Policy
Reservations are NON-TRANSFERABLE and may only be used by the original registrant. A 50% refund will be issued if you cancel more than 60 days before your trip. Cancellations less than 60 days notice are NON-REFUNDABLE.


What do I bring?
CASPBA participants are responsible for bringing their own backpack with waist straps, tent, sleeping bag and pad, and all of their food. (We recommend dehydrated “just add hot water meals” and other nonperishable food.) Backpacking participants should also bring warm layered clothing, rain gear (weather dependent), sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses), water bottles or hydration reservoirs (to carry at least 3 liters), eating utensils (cup, bowl, spork), headlamp or flashlight, personal medications, basic first aid kit, personal hygiene items (soap, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, etc.).

A more comprehensive packing list can be found here.

Participants also must arrange their own transportation to the starting point of the hike.

What will be provided?
Backpacking leaders will provide plenty of drinking water (filtered and/or treated), boiling hot water to prepare “just add hot water meals” (morning and evening) and coffee/tea, camp stoves and fuel (for boiling water), basic first aid items and traditional teas.

What are the physical requirements for the hike?
Participants must be able to hike 2-3 miles per hour with a 20-pound pack, and be prepared to hike up to 10 miles per day.

Are there age restrictions?
Participation is open to adults 18 and older, and children ages 13-17 when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What kind of shoes should I wear?
Hiking boots or hiking shoes are recommended.

What facilities are available? Picnic tables, a grill, trash, recycling, bathrooms or showers?
Stumps, logs, rocks and the ground are the primary facilities provided by the forest. Trail camps have pit toilets and some have picnic tables. Hikers must pack their trash.

What is the food situation?
Participants must bring all their own food. We recommend dehydrated “just add hot water meals” and other nonperishable food. Here is a Sample 3 Day Menu.

How do we get water?
California State Park staff leading the hike will provide plenty of drinking water (filtered and/or treated) throughout the entire trip. Please bring the capacity to carry 3 liters and full water bottles when meeting on the first day.

Can I bring alcohol or marijuana?
Alcohol is not permitted on CASPBA trips. Smoking is not allowed on any trail or in any trail camp.

Do we have to carry everything ourselves?
Yes, you must carry all of your own gear.

How much should my backpack weigh?
Backpacks should weigh 20-25 pounds for trips of this distance in this region.

Can I bring my dog?
Dogs are not allowed on any backcountry trail or in any trail camp unless they are trained service animals.

What if it rains?
Weather-related cancellations or changes to these trips are not anticipated. In the case of park closures due to extreme and/or dangerous weather conditions we will issue refunds.

What if there’s an emergency or someone gets hurt?
CASPBA leaders are trained in wilderness medicine and we have established Emergency Response Plans to initiate in the case of an emergency or injury out on trail.

Can I charge my devices?
Trail camps are primitive and without electricity. Participants may consider bringing a fully charged cell phone and perhaps small battery pack.

What kind of animals can we expect to see along the way?
Santa Cruz State Parks are teeming with an abundance of wildlife including vibrant birds, colorful reptiles, active mammals, and snazzy insects. Remember, do not feed wildlife. Trail camps are equipped with food lockers to keep food safe from animals during the night.


Why choose us?

This program is truly unique, the only such program led by California State Park staff. We offer naturalist-led backpacking trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains, sharing with you the natural and cultural history of the area. Trips vary in length and difficulty, proposing options for every experience level. Each trip provides two naturalists and you can meet them before hand at one of our in-person or video-conference pre-trip meetings. Native plant teas, trail desserts, demonstrations, stories, and jokes are added bonuses! 


Our mission is to provide for the health, inspiration, and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.

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“This team was so focused, polite and hardworking and still managed to make it fun. It’s very hard to do this, but they made it look easy. I’m only sorry there aren’t dozens of similar programs throughout the state. Thank you so much.” –Gregory Rudd, Skyline to the Sea and The Trail Less Traveled 2016 participant

“This was a blast and with a great group of people. Most fun was the stories and the laughter. I learned a ton. More was covered than I could have ever imagined was out there. I never dreamed there was so much to know and I’m very impressed with Alex and Jeremy’s knowledge.” – Jennifer Hardwick, Skyline to the Sea 2016 participant


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