There are some spectacular campgrounds within an hour of Mountain View and anytime from June through November is good camping weather. November? Really? Yes. We usually have warm weather, all the way into Autumn in the Bay Area. If you can plan a camping trip during the week, you’ll increase your chances of finding a nice campsite.
Mitch Harnett of Mountain View Working Scholars assisted me with this list of camping destinations. These photos are from his ride at Monte Bello this week.
Monte Bello Open Space Preserve is home to the Black Mountain Backpack Camp, the only site on District lands where visitors can spend the night under the stars. Reservations are required, and visitors must apply in advance for a permit online. You really need to plan ahead, but it’s well worth it. Along with your reservation, you have access to a gated parking lot, for overnight parking. The parking lot is a short walk, about 1.5 miles, from the campsites. The views are spectacular!
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the oldest State Park in California. It was acquired in 1902. The park has miles of trails, which serves hikers and equestrians, links Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reach of the Santa Cruz range. They have a fully stocked store, and hot food. and lots of waterfalls.
Francis Beach in Half Moon Bay has a campground with 52 individual sites, some suitable for tent camping, others for trailers or recreational vehicles. Some campsites have electrical hookups.
China Camp State Park was once a Chinese shrimp-fishing village, that thrived until the 1880s. Nearly 500 people, originally from Canton, China, lived in the village. In its heyday, there were three general stores, a marine supply store and a barber shop. I love this area and hearing about the history of the Chinese immigrants that lived here.
Castle Rock State Park is a land of sculpted sandstone, lush forests, and sweeping vistas. From one of the highest ridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains, park visitors enjoy hiking, backpacking, horseback riding and 20 campsites that are first-come-first-served. Rock climbers explore the park's caverns and rocks, including the namesake Castle Rock.
You can hike from Castle Rock campground to Big Basin campground, and all the way to the coast on a trail called Skyline to the Sea. It is about 35 miles long and an excellent weekend trip if you're up for it. Castle Rock also has a loop trail that is about 4.5 miles long and has beautiful look-outs over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Depending on the weather, you may be able to see the ocean. On the weekends, the parking lot can get pretty crazy, so be patient.
Kirby Cove is just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. They have a famous rope swing that may or may not be hanging, but apparently, it’s very popular. You’ll find a “pristine coarse-sand beach with spectacular views - when it's not foggy - of the Golden Gate Bridge and northern San Francisco, including the historic Presidio.”
Sanborn County Park in Saratoga offers a wooded park of 3,453 acres, and is nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains between Saratoga and Skyline Boulevard. This mountain park of redwoods and tan bark oak, offers hiking, camping, RV camping and picnicking opportunities year-round. Dogs are allowed. Sanborn Park is home to one of Mitch’s favorite beginner trails for cyclists. He likes to take people on this trail when they are first being introduced to trail riding. It is call the "John Nicholas Trail" and is about 5 miles long, perfect for both cyclists and pedestrians.
I found this interesting article: How To Camp For Free in Big Sur. Sounds like it might require a rugged 4 wheel drive, but lots less people will be there!
If you need camping supplies, REI is here in Mountain View, and also Mountain View Surplus. I love both of those stores. I also see lots of post on Next Door about people wanting to borrow camping supplies from their neighbors. I wouldn’t be willing to do that, but lots of people are.
Wherever you go, please let me know how it went. It’s nice to get outdoors and sleep under the stars in this beautiful California weather.