The Complete Guide to Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of America’s most unique national parks. Located in southeastern California, the park covers nearly 800,000 acres and includes two distinct deserts: the Mojave Desert…

Joshua Tree National Park is one of America’s most unique national parks. Located in southeastern California, the park covers nearly 800,000 acres and includes two distinct deserts: the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. These beautiful desert landscapes provide the stunning backdrop for the park’s namesake Joshua treeWe think the best way to experience everything Joshua Tree has to offer is to spend a few nights sleeping under the stars (which are spectacular by the way!) in your tent or RV and experiencing this incredible environment firsthand.

Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding areas have plentiful options for camping. From the nine campgrounds located within the national park, tons options for backcountry camping, and nearby campgrounds ranging from RV sites to dispersed camping on BLM lands you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Joshua Tree National Park.

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Enjoying the stunning sunsets in just one reason to camp in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

In this Post

Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds

There are nine established campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park. The majority of these are located in the north-west portion of the park with the Cottonwood Springs Campground the lone exception located in the south of the park. These campgrounds are all accessed via one of the three entrance stations to Joshua Tree, located on the west, north, and south of the national park.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Joshua Tree National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree are generally open year round, although they are sometimes closed during the hottest days of the summer. Peak season for camping in Joshua Tree is from October – May, when temperatures are more moderate. Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Joshua National Park.

Reservations & Permits

Six of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park require advance reservations during the peak camping season from the end of August through the first part of June. This includes Indian Cove, Black Rock, Cottonwood, Jumbo Rocks, Ryan and Sheep Pass Campgrounds. Note that the Ryan Campground recently transitioned to a reservation system during the peak season.

The remaining campgrounds of White Tank, Belle, and Hidden Valley do not accept reservations and are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year.

Camping in the park is very popular during the peak season, so we highly recommend making a reservation in advance if at all possible. If  you’re hoping to land one of the first-come, first-served campgrounds during peak season be sure to arrive early as they are very difficult to snag!

Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Expect campgrounds in Joshua Tree to be full during peak season.

 

During the summer off-season from May-September all of the campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The exception to this are the group campsites located at Indian Cove, Cottonwood, and Sheep Pass which require reservations year round. Keep in mind that campgrounds can close during the hottest weather of the summer and many of the campgrounds operate under reduced capacity, so you can expect that there will be fewer campsites available.

To make a reservation for the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park you’ll need to visit the Recreation.gov website, which manages campground reservations for the National Park Service.

Reservations for Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Recreation.gov

For those planning to explore Joshua Tree National Park by foot there are countless opportunities for backcountry camping in the park. There is no permit or reservation required for backpacking in Joshua Tree, but you are required to register any overnight visit at one of the 13 backcountry registration boards in the park. This ensure the NPS and park rangers know who is in the backcountry at any given time. Learn more about backcountry camping in Joshua Tree in this section.

Car camping sites

There are nine unique campgrounds for those looking to car camp in Joshua Tree National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and proximity to different areas of the park and are sure to provide plenty of options for your perfect camping trip in Joshua Tree. Details for all nine campgrounds are below.

Belle Campground

Number of Sites: 18 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Campsite at the Belle Campground in Joshua Tree.

Belle Campground, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS.

The Belle Campground has only 18 campsites, making it ideal for those looking for a quieter experience in Joshua Tree. The campground is located a short drive from the north entrance to the national park and is recommended for its tremendous star gazing. It is located adjacent to the California Hiking and Riding Trail so makes a great place to spend the night before exploring this beautiful trail.

The campground does not accept reservations, so it is a great option if you end up planning a camping trip in Joshua Tree but aren’t able to secure a campsite in advance. The majority of the campsites here can only accommodate a few tents, but there are several that would be suitable for RVs up to 35′.

There is no running water at the Belle Campground so be sure to bring all the water that you’ll need for your stay with you. The campground does have trash and recycling facilities and drop toilets. The campsites all feature a picnic table, fire ring, and grill.

Night sky from the Belle campground

The Belle Campground is the perfect place to take in the stunning night sky in Joshua Tree.

 

Black Rock Campground

Number of Sites: 99 sites, include 20 equestrian sites
Fee: $25/night
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

A tent in Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe

 

The Black Rock Campground is one of the larger campgrounds in Joshua Tree and is easily accessed given its located just on the edge of the national park. Located only a few miles from the town Yucca Valley, CA in the northwest corner of the park, Black Rock Campground is perfect for those looking for convenience and ease of access. Black Rock Campground has multiple hiking trails that leave directly from the campground including the California Hiking and Riding Trail, High View Trail, and Warren Peak.

Reservations are required at the Black Rock Campground during the peak season from the end of August through the beginning of June. Outside of this season the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of the 20 equestrian sites which require a reservation year round. The campsites accommodate tents as well as RVs up to 35′. A bonus for RV campers is that there is potable water and a dump station nearby.

Black Rock does receive some negative reviews for noise, but this tends to come with the larger sites in any national park.

Joshua Tree hiking trail

There are tons of hiking trails that leave from the Black Rock Campground.

 

Cottonwood Campground

Number of Sites: 62 sites, including 3 group sites (15 – 25 people depending on site)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $40/night for group sites
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for group sites. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve Individual sites
Click Here to Reserve Group sites

Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Kurt Moses.

 

The Cottonwood Campground is perfect for those looking to explore the southern section of Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is convenient for those coming from I-10 or any of the towns south of the park and is a just a short drive from the southern entrance station. Cottonwood is the perfect jumping off point for visiting the Lost Palms Oasis, as the trail leaves from the campground.

Reservations are required at the Cottonwood Campground during the peak season from the end of August through the beginning of June. Outside of this season the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of the 3 group sites which require a reservation year round. The campsites accommodate tents as well as RVs up to 35′. There is potable water and a dump station at the campground, a big convenience in the dry desert!

Cottonwood Campground also has a beautiful amphitheater where you can check out a ranger presentation and learn a bit more about Joshua Tree.

Palm tree in Lost Palm Oasis Joshua Tree

A visit to Lost Palms Oasis is highly recommended for those staying at the Cottonwood Campground. Photo credit NPS/Robb Hannawacker.

 

Hidden Valley Campground

Number of Sites: 44 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, up to 25′. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Camper van at the Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree

Hidden Valley Campground is perfect for tents and small camper vans. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The Hidden Valley Campground is located in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is on the smaller side with 44 campsites, all of which are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. The campground is located near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail as well as several popular climbing spots in Joshua Tree.

The campsites at Hidden Valley are smaller than what you’ll find at many of the other campgrounds in Joshua Tree. This is great for car campers as you’ll feel a bit more secluded, but it does limit the size of RVs that can be accommodated to 25′. It is important to note that there is not potable water at the Hidden Valley Campground so you’ll need to plan on bringing all the water you’ll need with you.

Sunset in Hidden Valley

Exploring Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree is a highlight for many. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Indian Cove Campground

Number of Sites: 101 sites, including 13 group sites (15 – 60 people depending on site)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $35 – $50/night for group sites
RVs: Yes, up to 35′ for the majority of sites. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for group sites. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve Individual sites
Click Here to Reserve Group sites

Tents at the Indian Cove Campground

The Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Lian Law.

 

The Indian Cove Campground is located in the northern section of Joshua Tree National Park and just a short drive from either Joshua Tree Village or Twentynine Palms. Indian Cove is located along a dead end road within the park, just north of the famous Wonderland of Rocks and also near the Boy Scout Trail. The campground is perfect for climbers, with tons of pitches near the campsite to explore. 

Reservations are required for all the campsites at Indian Cove during peak-season in Joshua Tree, and are always required for the 13 group sites. Outside of the peak season, individual campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The sites accommodate tents and RVs up to 35′. The group sites at Indian Cove can accommodate between 15 – 60 people depending on the site, so are a great option for those looking for camping options for a larger group in Joshua Tree.

There is no water available at the campground, so plan to bring in what you plan to use. The campsites all provide picnic tables and fire rings and the campground features pit toilets.

Keep an eye out for the elusive Desert Tortoise when staying at the Indian Cove Campground as they are known to frequent the area!

Wonderland of Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park.

Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Brad Sutton.

 

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Number of Sites: 124 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve

Tent in the Jumbo Rocks Campground

Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Centrally located to many of Joshua Tree’s main attractions, the Jumbo Rocks Campground is one of the most popular in the park. Situated along the main road through Joshua Tree and just south of Twentynine Palms, Jumbo Rocks provides for a quintessential Joshua Tree camping experience. The campground is nestled within an iconic Joshua Tree landscape of beautiful boulders, Joshua Trees, and stunning desert surroundings.

During peak season from late-August to early-June reservations are required for the Jumbo Rocks Campground. As with the other campgrounds within Joshua Tree, the sites are first-come, first-served outside of this timeframe. Jumbo Rocks campsites feature picnic tables and fire grates and all have access to vault toilets. There is no potable water available at the campground, so be sure to bring what you plan to use.

Many reviews note that mice can sometimes be a nuisance at Jumbo Rocks, so be sure you’ve securely stored your food and cleaned up after any meals.

Criss Cross Rock in Joshua Tree

Classic Joshua Tree rock formations near the Jumbo Rocks Campground. Photo credit NPS/Robb Hannawacker.

 

Ryan Campground

Number of Sites: 32 sites, including 4 equestrian and 3 bicycle campsites.
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve

Ryan Campground

Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The Ryan Campground is one of the smaller campground in Joshua Tree National Park with just 32 campsites. The campground is very well located with easy access to several excellent hiking trails from the campground. This includes the California Riding and Hiking Trail and the Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail, as well as access to some excellent climbing spots.

The Ryan Campground has recently transitioned from being available on a first-come, first-served system throughout the year to now requiring a reservation during the peak season from the end of August to first part of June. The four equestrian sites at the Ryan Campground require a reservation year round.

The campsites at the Ryan Campground all feature picnic tables, fire rings, and grills. There is not a water source at the campground, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need. 

California Riding and Hiking Trail

Access to the California Riding and Hiking Trail from the Ryan Campground. Photo credit NPS/Brad Sutton.

 

Sheep Pass Group Campground

Number of Sites: 6 group sites (20 -25 people per site)
Fee: $50/night
RVs: Not permitted.
More Information
Reservations: Required.
Click Here to Reserve

Tents at the Sheep Pass campground

Sheep Pass Campground is perfect for larger groups. Photo credit NPS.

 

Perfect for larger groups, the Sheep Pass Campground is centrally located in Joshua Tree National Park. The campground has 6 sites and can accommodate groups size of between 20-25 people depending on the site. Reservations are required for the campsites year-round and can be made through Recreation.gov. An excellent hiking trail leaves directly from the campground and climbs to the top of Ryan Mountain.

The campsites all feature fire pits, grills, and picnic tables. RVs are not allowed at Sheep Pass, so if you’re planning a group camping trip with an RV you’ll need to check out one of the other group sites in Joshua Tree. The campground does not have potable water, so be sure to bring what you need. 

Ryan Mountain trail sign

The hike to the top of Ryan Mountain leaves directly from the Sheep Pass Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

White Tank Campground

Number of Sites: 15 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, max 25′ length. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Sign for the White Tank Campground

The White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The smallest campground in Joshua Tree National Park, White Tank Campground is located along Pinto Basin Road south of Twentynine Palms, CA. The campground provides excellent access to the Arch Rock Trail and California Riding and Hiking Trail.

White Tank Campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. This makes it a great option for a last minute camping trip in Joshua Tree. RVs are welcome at White Tank, although the maximum length is 25′ and there are no hookups available.

As with many of the campsites in Joshua Tree, White Tank does not have any potable water available. However, campsites do feature picnic tables, fire grates, and basic grills. The White Tank Campground is also a great location for stargazing, so be sure to bring those telescopes!

Arch Rock Trail sign

The Arch Rock Trail starts in the White Tank Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

Backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park

For those looking to get off the beaten path, backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect adventure. The nearly 800,000 acres in Joshua Tree National Park provide countless opportunities for backpacking and backcounty camping, provided you follow the national park guidelines and are prepared for this unique environment. Learn everything you need to know to plan a backpacking trip in Joshua Tree National Park below.

Backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Be sure you are prepared before venturing into the Joshua Tree backcountry.

 

Backcountry Camping Registration

The first thing you must know when planning a backcountry trip in Joshua Tree is that you’ll need to register your trip at one of the 13 backcountry boards located throughout the national park. By registering, you’re letting the NPS and rangers know about your trip length, approximate camping locations, and who is in your group should something go wrong.

We can’t overemphasize how important this step is! If something were to go wrong, it is essential that the Park Service has this information about your trip. Check out the list and map below for locations of the 13 backcountry registration boards in Joshua Tree.

Backcountry registration boards are located at:

  • Black Rock Canyon
  • Cottonwood Spring
  • Covington
  • Geology Tour
  • Indian Cove
  • Juniper Flats
  • Keys West
  • North Entrance
  • Pine City
  • Pleasant Valley
  • Porcupine Wash
  • Turkey Flats
  • Twin Tanks

These locations are shown on the map below (click to enlarge):

Map of backcountry camping registration boards in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park has 13 backcountry registration boards. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Each of the 13 registration boards provide access to different trails and parts of the park. Be sure to check out the NPS website here to get a sense of the different trails that each registration board has access to. In addition, you are welcome to leave your car overnight at the registration boards.

Backpacking trails in Joshua Tree National Park

As you’re planning your backcountry camping trip in Joshua Tree you’ll want to spend some time thinking about which trail you’ll plan on hiking and your planned route. While there are countless options, two of the most popular trails are listed and described below:

California Riding and Hiking Trail
The California Riding and Hiking Trail is an approximately 37-mile trail that crosses a huge swath of Joshua Tree National Park. The trail is typically completed over 2 – 4 days starting in the west at the Blackrock Campground and finishing at the north park entrance.

The route is a point-to-point hike meaning you’ll have to shuttle a car between the start and finish to ensure you have transportation back to where you started. One of the big perks of the California Riding and Hiking Trail is how often it visits campgrounds and crosses park roads. This makes it easy to cache water along the trail, which you’ll definitely want to do.

Check out this excellent guide from Hikingguy.com for detailed information.

Boy Scout Trail/Willow Hole Trail
The Boy Scout Trail is an approximate 8 mile hiking trail that connects from just north of the Indian Cove Campground to Park Boulevard adjacent to the Quail Spring Picnic Area in the south. The hike can be extended into an overnight backpacking trip by taking the Willow Hole Trail, a 2.2 mile out and back to Willow Hole.

Backpacking site in Joshua Tree

 

Where to camp in the Joshua Tree Backcountry

Unlike many other national parks, there are no designed backcountry campsites in Joshua Tree National Park. Rather, backpackers are asked to camp on durable surfaces, camp away from other groups, camp an adequate distance from roads, and not camp in day-use only areas. The full list of regulations is below:

  • Do not camp within 1 mile of a park road
  • Do not camp within 500 ft. of a trail or water source
  • Do not camp in day-use only areas (these will be marked)
  • Camp at least 1 mile from any trailheads
  • Limit your group size to the smallest possible.

In practice, this means you should seek out a secluded campsite that is on a durable surface. Rocks and sandy washes make perfect backcountry campsites in Joshua Tree. Please be very careful not to camp or hike on the ‘living soil’ in Joshua Tree. This can be recognized by the dark crust that forms on top of the soil and should be avoided to help protect this sensitive ecosystem.

Joshua Trees in front of mountain landscape.

 

Caching food and water in the Joshua Tree backcountry

Given the lack of water in this fragile desert environment, backcountry campers are permitted to cache food and water in the Joshua Tree backcountry. Caching simply means that you’ll store a supply of food or water somewhere along your planned route. This is incredibly important as you won’t be able to carry all of the water you’re likely to need. Plan on at least 3 liters of water per person per day for backpacking trips in Joshua Tree. Here are a few tips for caching food and water:

  • Plan out your route and caching locations ahead of time
  • Contact the NPS to get a sense of where a good caching location may be for your preferred route
  • Mark your cache with your name, trip dates, and contact information
  • Caches can be left for up to 14 days

You’ll want to store your cache somewhere that is out of the way, but still easy for you to find. We highly recommend utilizing a GPS app on your phone, such as Gaia GPS, in order to record a waypoint for the location of your cache.

Backcountry water cache

Caching water is essential for any backpacking trip in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Joshua Tree National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Joshua Tree National Park. First a few basics:

  • The Maximum group size for individual campsites is six people, three tents, and two vehicles. Note that not all campsites can accommodate this many people/cars.
  • Do not attach any type of rope to the vegetation in Joshua Tree. This means no camping hammocks!
  • You are not permitted to camp in Joshua Tree for more than 30 days/year. Of these, only 14 days may be within the peak season from late-September to early-June.

Fires

Fires are generally permitted at the nine developed campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park. The fire must be contained within the provided fire pit/grate or grill and should never be left unattended. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Do not gather any wood from the national park!

Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry of Joshua Tree, so if you’re planning a backpacking trip be sure to bring a camp stove.

Campfire in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Wildlife

A highlight for many visits to Joshua Tree is the chance to encounter some of the incredible wildlife that calls the park home. The desert adaptations of many of these animals are truly incredible and it is important to limit your impact on their fragile ecosystem. Most animal life is active during the night, although you’re likely to encounter lizards, plenty of birds, a possibly a few mammals during the day. Campers should be especially aware of the following in Joshua Tree:

  • Ground squirrels: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Joshua Tree. Be sure to securely store all food, especially in the backcountry to limit your impact.
  • Snakes: Joshua Tree is home to a wide variety of desert snake species. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail for them. For backcountry campers you’re biggest danger is twisting an ankle in a snake hole or burrow!
  • Birds: Joshua Tree National Park has a very active population of birds. Keep an eye out for the iconic roadrunner!

Learn more about the wildlife in Joshua Tree here.

A roadrunner in Joshua Tree National Park

A roadrunner in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Pets

Joshua Tree National Park strikes a nice balance when it comes to bringing pets along on your trip. Pets are permitted at all of the developed campgrounds throughout the park, but are not allowed in the backcountry or on any hiking trails. 

If you do plan on bringing you pet with you, please follow these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds, on park roads, and in picnic areas
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry

Given the hot desert environment it is important to take proper precautions when bringing a pet to Joshua Tree. This includes bringing plenty of water for them and ensuring their paws do not get burned on the hot ground.

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Joshua Tree National Park website here.

 

Where to get supplies

Stocking up on camping supplies before your trip to Joshua Tree is an important part of trip planning. It is especially important to be sure you’re well equipped with plenty of water given the lack of water sources in the national park. Luckily, there are several towns near all of the Joshua Tree National park entrances, making it easy to get supplies prior to your camping trip. Check out your options below:

  • North Entrance
    • Twentynine Palms: Twentynine Palms serves as the northern gateway to Joshua Tree National Park. It is a short drive from the North Entrance station and provides easy access to the Belle, Jumbo Rocks, White Tank, and Indian Cove campgrounds.  Twentynine Palms has most of the essentials you’ll need to stock up for your camping trip including a grocery store, liquor store, and gas station. The nearest outdoor store is in Joshua Tree Village.
  • West Entrance
    • Joshua Tree Village: Joshua Tree Village is located a few miles north of the West Entrance Station. From here you’ll have easy access to Hidden Valley, Ryan, and Sheep Pass campgrounds. Joshua Tree has a small health food store, gas station, and an outdoor shop. For more services you’ll want to head to Yucca Valley.
    • Yucca Valley: West of Joshua Tree Village, Yucca Valley is the largest town on the north side of Joshua Tree National Park. You’ll travel through Yucca Valley to reach the Black Rock Campground. Yucca Valley has multiple grocery stores and gas stations.
  • South Entrance
    • Indio, CA: Located a 30 minute drive from the Cottonwood Entrance Station on the south side of Joshua Tree National Park, Indio has tons of services. Here you’ll find everything you’ll need to stock up for a camping trip in Joshua Tree including grocery stores, gas stations, and outdoor stores.

Palm trees in Indio, California.

 

Camping near Joshua Tree National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Joshua Tree National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, the popularity of of camping in Joshua Tree means it is possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within the national park. Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of camping options outside of Joshua Tree National Park. Check out your best bets below.

RV campgrounds near Joshua Tree National Park

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Most of the RV campgrounds are located in the Palm Springs area, which provides convenient access to the national park. There is also a good option on the northern side of Joshua Tree for those looking for a great RV campground. Learn more below.

RV parked near Joshua Tree

 

Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $60/night
Capacity: Sites accommodate up to 8 people
RVs: Yes, up to 90′.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA is located just north of Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs, CA. This large site is well located for a visit to Joshua Tree and approximately 50 minutes from both the southern and western entrance stations. Here, you’ll find all the amenities that are typical of a KOA including a pool, dog park, mini golf, playground, and fitness room.

The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA can also accommodate RVs up to 90′ in length, so nearly every camper should fit just fine.

 

Palm Springs RV Resort

Number of sites: 401
Fee: $50 – $80/night depending on season
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Palms Springs RV Resort is located just off of I-10 in Palm Desert, CA. This is an excellent location for those looking to explore the southern section of Joshua Tree National Park as the campground is only 30 minutes from the southern entrance station.

The campground is large, with over 400 campsites that can accommodate RVs of all lengths. Here you’ll get access to a pool, WiFi, a playground, dog park, and much more.

 

Twentynine Palms RV Resort

Number of sites: 168
Fee: $47/night
Capacity: Max of 5 people per site
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Twentynine Palms RV Resort is well located just a short drive from the northern entrance station to Joshua Tree. Every site at Twentynine Palms features electricity, water, and sewer hookups. The campground has tons of amenties as well, including a pool, fitness room, and small shop selling camping supplies.

Highly recommended!

 

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $50/night depending on hookup size
Capacity: Price is for two adults. Additional guests are $10/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground is one of the closest RV campgrounds to the national park located just 20 minutes from the western entrance station in Joshua Tree Village. This independently run campground gets great review for its location and small pond. You won’t find the same amenities here as you’ll get at the other options (no pool!), but you will get a quieter site with tremendous views.

 

Little Pioneertown RV Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Call to inquire. (760) 362-2163
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Little Pioneertown RV Campground is located north of Joshua Tree National Park in Yucca Valley, CA. From here, you’re only a 20 minute drive from the western entrance station making this a great option for those interested in exploring the northern section of the park.

All sites at this campground feature electricity, water, and sewer hookups although you won’t find the same amenities as some of the other RV campgrounds listed above.

Car camping sites near Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Joshua Tree National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Joshua Tree.

Car camping near Joshua Tree

There are plenty of options for car camping near Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Mt. San Jacinto State Park State Park

Number of Sites: Idyllwild (28 sites) and Stone Creek (44 sites)
Fee: Varies, but plan on between $15 – $45/night depending on the campground and hookups.
Capacity: 8 people per campsite.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Required. Visit website here. 
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Mt. San Jacinto State Park is located to the west of Palm Springs and between 1 – 1.5 hours from Joshua Tree National Park. Here, you’ll find two developed campgrounds perfect for pitching your tent. The Mt. Jacinto area stands in stark contrast to the desert landscape of Joshua Tree. Here you’ll be immersed in a high altitude mountain environment surrounded by pine trees.

The two developed campgrounds in Mt. San Jacinto State Park, Idyllwild and Stone Creek, both can accommodate tents and small RVs up to 24′. While not as close to Joshua Tree National Park as some of the other RV parks in the area, you’ll find a more basic campground that has a wilderness feel.

Dispersed campsites near Joshua Tree National Park

Your final option for camping near Joshua Tree National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land located both north and south of the national park. This land is overseen by the BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

A free dispersed campsite on BLM land north of Joshua Tree National Park.

Free dispersed camping is available near Joshua Tree National Park on BLM land.

 

The two camping areas below are both overseen by the Barstow Field Office of the BLM, so be sure to contact them with any questions.

North Joshua Tree Dispersed Camping

Located a short drive from the western entrance to Joshua Tree, the BLM land located north of the national park is a popular free campground near Joshua Tree National Park. The camping area is between Joshua Tree Village and Twentynine Palms, giving you access to plenty of services in these two towns.

To get to this area you’ll take Highway 62 (the Twentynine Palms highway) to Sunfair Road. Turn north on Sunfair Rd and continue to Two Mile Road. Turn east here and continue until the road ends. Click here for directions.

The camping area is located on a dry lake bed and there is plenty of space to accommodate all campers. Given that this is not an established campsite, there is no water available and fires are not allowed. Please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping here.

As always, Freecampsites.net also has good information on the North Joshua Tree Dispersed camping area.

South Joshua Tree Dispersed Camping

The dispersed camping area located on the south side of Joshua Tree National Park is located just off of Cottonwood Springs Road. This location couldn’t be better if you’re looking to explore the southern section of the park, as you’re mere minutes from the Cottonwood entrance station. The campsites are located just north of I-10, giving you easy access to Indio for supplies.

To get here, take I-10 to Cottonwood Springs Road and head north towards Joshua Tree National Park. After approximately 1 mile of driving along Cottonwood Springs Road you’ll begin to see campsites located to the west. Click here for directions.

There is no water available here and the campsites do not have any services. Check out the Freecampsites.net description for more information.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Joshua Tree National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is a true hidden gem. Tucked away in the central heart of California, Pinnacles is home to a variety of rugged landscapes and stunning rock formations. Although…

Pinnacles National Park is a true hidden gem. Tucked away in the central heart of California, Pinnacles is home to a variety of rugged landscapes and stunning rock formations. Although it is one of the country’s youngest National Parks, Pinnacles’ history goes back many millions of years to a time when numerous volcanoes formed the spires, caves, and canyons that make it such a unique and beautiful place.

Many nature lovers will agree that exploring wild places like Pinnacles National Park is best experienced on a camping trip. There’s no better way to bring closure to a day in the outdoors than a night under the stars. Since camping options are limited and Pinnacles is still an off-the-beaten-track destination, it can be challenging to find good information on camping in Pinnacles National Park. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide so you can spend less time planning and more time in the great outdoors. Enjoy!

Wild flowers bloom along the Rim Trail in Pinnacles National Park.
Wildflowers bloom along the Rim Trail in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Cindy Martinez.

In This Post:

Camping Inside Pinnacles National Park

When it comes to camping inside Pinnacles National Park, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that backcountry and dispersed camping are not permitted anywhere within the park. The good news? It’s still possible to enjoy camping in the lovely and convenient Pinnacles Campground, and those looking for more remote dispersed camping have a few good options nearby.

Pinnacles National Park Camping Map
Pinnacles Campground is located on the more developed East side of the park.

Pinnacles Campground

# of sites: 134

Type: Tent, RV, Group, Glamping

Fees: $35 (Standard tent), $45 (RV w/electric), $75-$110 (group) $119 (glamping cabin)

Located near the Visitor’s Center on the East side of the park, Pinnacles Campground offers a range of camping options. There are numerous tent pitches (many with good shade, 6 people max per site), RV sites with electric hookups, glamping cabins, and group sites that can accommodate up to 20 people.

There is a handy campground store on the premises that offers basic food and supplies. A shuttle runs from the campground to the Bear Gulch Nature Center and nearby trailheads.

Looking towards Pinnacles Campground and Bear Gulch.
Looking towards Pinnacles Campground and Bear Gulch. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Amenities:

  • Fire ring
  • Picnic tables
  • Food storage box
  • Flushing toilets
  • Hot showers ($0.50/3 minutes)
  • Wifi
  • Swimming pool
  • General store

Reservations

Due to the limited camping options at Pinnacles, reservations are recommended during the peak wildflower season (March-May), on weekends, and during holidays. Additionally, it is advisable to book in advance if you are wanting an RV site (only 20 total), glamping cabin (6 total), or group site (14 total). Group sites can be booked up to 12 months in advance, while all other sites can be booked up to 6 months in advance.

Reservations can be made at recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777

Pets

Pets are allowed on the paved areas of the campground and must be kept on a leash. You cannot bring your pet on any of the trails in Pinnacles National Park.

Fires

Fires are permitted inside designated fire rings, depending on the time of year. During times of high fire danger, campfires and smoking are prohibited throughout the park (including inside the campground), although propane cooking stoves are typically allowed. Information on current conditions and fire bans can be found on this website.

Wildlife

Pinnacles National Park is a renowned habitat for the critically endangered California Condor. There is a viewing area with telescopes at the Pinnacles Campground; your best chance of seeing one of these beautiful giants is during their evening feeding time. More commonly seen in the campground are racoons, squirrels, and numerous smaller birds, such as the scrub jay. It is imperative that visitors not feed the wildlife, and be sure to keep all of your food inside your car or in the box provided at your campsite.

A California Condor at Pinnacles National Park.
A California Condor spotted in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near Pinnacles National Park

Despite the limited options for camping within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Park, there are plenty of good campgrounds in the surrounding area. For easy access to the East side of the park, the towns of Hollister and King City are each about 30 miles and 40 minutes’ drive away. The west side of the park is more remote, requiring about an hour’s drive (38 miles) from the nearest town of Soledad.

Below we’ve shared our top picks and tips for the best campgrounds near Pinnacles National Park:

Campgrounds Near Hollister, California

Hollister Hills SVRA

For those looking for a more rustic option near Hollister, the Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area offers basic camping options in several campgrounds on the 6,800-acre site. Keep in mind that this is a recreation area for 4WD vehicles and ATVs, so don’t expect it to be particularly quiet.

# of Sites: Varies by campground. (There are 7 campgrounds and 2 remote sites total)

Type: Tents, RVs (no hookups)

Fees: $10/night

Amenities:

  • Flushing toilets
  • Showers (not available at all campgrounds)
  • Water
  • Firepit
  • Picnic tables

Fires: Yes, but seasonal restrictions may apply.

Pets: Yes

Reservations: N/A. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Get there early, as it fills up most weekends.

Hollister Hills SVRA Website

Camping in Hollister California
Car camping+fire pits=Gourmet dinners!

San Benito RV and Camping Resort

Located 14 miles south of Hollister, this is one of the closest camping options to Pinnacles National Park (about a 25-minute drive). The San Benito RV and Camping Resort is a big, busy, well-appointed RV park that doesn’t permit tent camping.

# of Sites: 596

Type: RV, Cabins

Fees: RV sites ($68/night and up), Cabins ($130/night-$300/night)

Amenities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Clubhouse with Wifi
  • Pool/Hot tub
  • Playground
  • Laundry
  • Water

Fires: In barbeques only.

Pets: Allowed for RV camping, but not inside cabins.

Reservations: Recommended for busy weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

San Benito RV and Camping Resort Website

Camping near Hollister California rock climbing
Camping in Hollister gives you close proximity to some of the most popular climbing routes in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near King City, California

San Lorenzo County Park

Conveniently located near the center of King City, San Lorenzo County Park offers a wide variety of campsite types in a shady campground with good facilities.

# of Sites: 100

Type: RV, Tent, Group

Fees: Full Hook-Up ($45/night) Water/Electric or Water-Only ($40/night)

Amenities

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Water
  • Barbeques
  • Picnic tables
  • Laundry
  • Internet kiosk
  • Putting green

Fires: Barbeques only.

Pets: Yes (must be kept on leash), additional fee required.

Reservations: Recommended for busy holidays and weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

San Lorenzo County Park Camping Website

Camping in King City California, Pinnacles National Park
Many of the best trails in Pinnacles National Park are less than an hour’s drive from San Lorenzo County Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near Soledad, California

Arroyo Seco Campground

Nestled on a wooded hillside near two small lakes and a river, this rustic campground offers a good option for campers who want to appreciate their natural surroundings. There are some spots that can accommodate smaller RVs, but no hookups are available.

# of Sites: 33

Fees: $30/night

Amenities:

  • Toilets (some flush, some vault)
  • Drinking water
  • Showers (coin-operated)
  • Picnic table
  • Firepit with grill

Fires: Yes, but seasonal restrictions may apply.

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Reservations: Recommended. This is a small campground that gets heavy use throughout the year. Reservations can be made HERE.

Arroyo Seco Campground Website

Camping near the west entrance to Pinnacles National Park.
Camping near Soledad, CA gives you easy access to the West entrance of Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Yanks RV Resort

Yanks RV Resort is well-positioned for easy access to either the western or eastern entrance to Pinnacles National Park. This is an RV-only campground and tents are not permitted.

# of Sites: 79

Fees: $51-71/night

Amenities:

  • Full hook-ups
  • Wifi & cable TV
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques
  • Pool/hot tub
  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Dog park
  • Propane filling station
  • Laundry
  • Store
  • Fitness center

Fires: Yes

Pets: Yes, except for pitbulls, rottweilers, & dobermans.

Reservations: Recommended for busy holidays and weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

Yanks RV Resort Website

Pinnacles National Park Camping Caves
Exploring the caves in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Dispersed Camping Near Pinnacles National Park

There are a couple of good options for dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park. The Laguna Mountain BLM area is the closest option to the park, requiring a roughly 50-minute drive to reach the East entrance. The Condon Peak BLM area is just a bit further, about one hour’s drive from Pinnacles National Park’s East entrance. While these camping options may be a bit further than some of the other campgrounds in the area, they provide an affordable and private alternative to the busier RV parks.

Laguna Mountain BLM Recreation Area

There are plenty of secluded spots to be found off any of the roads in the Laguna Mountain area (be sure to read and follow the camping regulations on the website). Stargazers will enjoy the dark night skies here, and hikers should make a short detour to check out one of the waterfalls in the area. Keep in mind that there are no restrooms, water, or trash facilities for dispersed campers. There are also two primitive campgrounds with level spaces to accommodate RV’s, although there are no hook-ups.

# of Sites: Varies

Fees: Free

Amenities:

  • None in dispersed spots
  • Campgrounds have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables

Fires: Seasonal Restrictions may apply

Pets: Yes

Reservations: Not available. Get there early on weekends to find a good spot.

Laguna Mountain BLM Website

Dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park
Dispersed camping allows you to enjoy the peace and solitude of the outdoors.

Condon Peak BLM Recreation Area

Condon Peak Recreation Area is another good option for dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park, although there are a few drawbacks to consider. There is a $5 vehicle permit required for both camping and day use, and Condon Peak is a bit further from Pinnacles than Laguna Mountain. Additionally, the area is quite busy during the summer hunting season. That being said, there are many good dispersed spots and a primitive campground suitable for tents and RVs.

# of Sites: Varies

Fees: $5 vehicle permit (good for one week and must be purchased on recreation.gov)

Amenities:

  • None in dispersed spots
  • Campgrounds have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables

Fires: Seasonal Restrictions may apply

Pets: Yes

Reservations: Not available. Get there early on summer weekends to find a good spot.

Condon Peak BLM Website

Camping near Pinnacles National Park, Balconies Trail

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of activities to enjoy in Pinnacles National Park. You can watch for the endangered California Condor and other birds of prey, explore the fabulous network of hiking trails, choose from excellent climbing routes suited for a range of ability levels and styles, or venture into one of the incredible talus caves (no special experience or equipment required!) Your next adventure is waiting, and it all starts with the perfect basecamp. Happy camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, located in western Virginia, is one of America’s most iconic National Parks. The Blue Ridge mountains create a stunning backdrop for the incredible Skyline Drive, a 105-mile…

Shenandoah National Park, located in western Virginia, is one of America’s most iconic National Parks. The Blue Ridge mountains create a stunning backdrop for the incredible Skyline Drive, a 105-mile roadway that runs through Shenandoah National Park. We think the best way to experience everything that Shenandoah has to offer is to spend a few nights in your tent or RV where you’ll experience this beautiful part of the country first hand.

Shenandoah National Park and the surrounding areas have plenty of options for camping from the five campgrounds located within the park to an abundance of backcountry camping options and plenty of nearby campgrounds only a short drive from the National Park.

Keep reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Shenandoah National Park.

Sunset in Shenandoah National Park.

Enjoying a stunning sunset from your tent in Shenandoah National Park is an experience not to be missed!

 

In this Post

 

Shenandoah National Park Campgrounds

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip in Shenandoah is to first understand a bit about the geography of the park. Shenandoah National Park is over 105 miles long, but quite narrow across. Skyline Drive runs the length or the park and is used to access the majority of campgrounds and trailheads within the park.

As such, most destinations within Shenandoah will have their location given by the mile marker they are located at along Skyline Drive. The mile markers begin at the northern entrance station at Front Royal (mile 0) and finish at mile 105 at the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station located at the southern end of the park.

Tunnel along Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive runs the length of Shenandoah National Park.

 

In between these two points you’ll have several options for camping within Shenandoah National Park. The five campgrounds within the national park provide plenty of options for everything from RV camping to secluded car camping, while over 500 miles of hiking trails provide endless opportunities for the adventurous to enjoy backcountry camping in Shenandoah.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of the campgrounds are located in Shenandoah National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area.

Map of campsites at Shenandoah National Park

Campground options in Shenandoah National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

All of the campgrounds within Shenandoah National Park are open seasonally beginning in the late-Spring through the late-Fall. This typically means that you can expect campgrounds to open in late-April or early-May and stay open through the end of October or early-November.

You can check the opening and closing dates for all the campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park here. 

Reservations & Permits

Reservations for campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park are only required for the Dundo Group Campground. However, we highly recommend making reservations for any of the campgrounds you hope to stay at during the peak summer season, and especially on weekends. The exception to this is the Lewis Mountain Campground, which does not accept reservations.

To make a reservation for the Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, Loft Mountain, or Dundo Group Campgrounds you’ll need to visit the Recreation.gov website, which manages campground reservations for the National Park Service.

Reservations for Shenandoah National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Recreation.gov

It is important to know that even if you don’t have a reservation in peak season you can still find a campground in Shenandoah. All of the campgrounds within the national park (with the exception of the Dundo Group Campground) have a small number of first come, first served campsites available. These can be a lifesaver when you plan a last minute camping trip to Shenandoah!

Shenandoah National Park camping

You’ll be glad to made a reservation if you’re hoping to camp in peak season in Shenandoah.

 

For those who are exploring the vast trail network and plan to spend a night (or two) at a backcountry campsite in Shenandoah National Park you’ll need to get obtain a backcountry permit. The permit is free and can be obtained at one of the self-registration stations located throughout the park or through the Shenandoah’s online permit system.

Online Permits for backcountry camping in Shenandoah National Park can be obtained here. 

 

Car camping sites in Shenandoah National Park

There are five options for those looking to car camp in Shenandoah National Park. These campgrounds are spread throughout the park and give plenty of options for those looking to explore different areas of Shenandoah. Details for all five campgrounds are below.

Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.1)

Number of Sites: 161 individual (up to 6 people) and 3 group sites (up to 25 people)
Mile marker: 22.1
Fee: $15/night for individual sites, $50/night for group sites
RVs: Yes. No electric or water hookups available.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

The Mathews Arm Campground is the most northern campground in Shenandoah National Park, just 22.1 miles from the Front Royal Entrance Station. This is a great place to spend the night before visiting Overall Run Falls, as the campground is short distance from the main trail leading to this spectacular waterfall.

Matthews Arms has 161 individual campsites which can accommodate up to 6 people and two cars in addition to three group sites, which can accommodate up to 25 people each. The campground has a significant number of campsites that are first-come, first-first served, making this a great option for those without reservations.

View a map of the Mathews Arm Campground here. 

The campground has five public restrooms, plenty of potable water spigots, utility sinks for cleaning up, and an RV dump station. The Traces Trail can be accessed directly from the campground, making for a lovely walk directly from your campsite.

Mountain view in Shenandoah National Park

Mathews Arm Campground makes a perfect jumping off point for exploring Shenandoah. Photo credit NPS/N. Lewis

 

Big Meadows Campground (mile 51.2)

Number of Sites: 222 individual (up to 6 people) and 2 group sites (up to 15 people)
Mile marker: 51.2
Fee: $20/night for individual sites, $45/night for group sites
RVs: Yes. There is a dump station, but no electric or water hookups available.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

Sign for Big Meadows campground in Shenandoah National Park

 

The Big Meadows Campground is centrally located in Shenandoah National Park, and is located at mile marker 51.2. The campground is well situated and makes for a perfect place to camp before visiting Dark Hollow Falls, Lewis Falls, or the Fisher’s Gap overlook. The Appalachian Trail pass just north of the campground, so you can expect to see a few through hikers!

Big Meadows has 222 individual campsites and 2 group sites, which can accommodate up to 15 people. Most of the campgrounds at Big Meadows require a reservation, although there are still several that are always available on a first-come, first served basis. Big Meadows Campground also has a number of ‘walk-in’ campsites where you’ll park your car and then carry your camping gear to your site. These offer a bit more privacy and are a great option for those looking for more solitude and a true wilderness experience.

View a map of the Big Meadows Campground here. 

The campground has nine restrooms, plenty of water spigots, showers, laundry, firewood for sale, and an ice machine. There is also a dump station for those traveling in an RV.

Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park

Dark Hollow Falls is a short distance from the Big Meadows Campground. Photo credit NPS/N. Lewis

 

Lewis Mountain Campground (mile 57.5)

Number of Sites: 30 individual sites
Mile marker: 57.5
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes. No dump station, water or electric hookups available.
More Information
No reservations accepted

Lewis Mountain Campground is the smallest campground in Shenandoah National Park, and is located just off the Appalachian Trail at mile marker 57.5. The campground is well located for those looking to do a bit of hiking on the AT, hiking to South River Falls, or visiting the ruins of the Upper Pocosin Mission.

View a map of the Lewis Mountain Campground here. 

Lewis Mountain Campground only has 30 campsites, and they are spaced relatively close together. This can cause the campground to feel a bit noisy and crowded despite its small size. Facilities include restrooms, water spigots, showers, firewood for sale, and an ice machine. There is no dump station available for RVs.

Loft Mountain Campground (mile 79.5)

Number of Sites: 207 individual sites
Mile marker: 79.5
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes. There is a dump station, but no electric or water hookups available.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

The Loft Mountain Campground is perennially a favorite among campers in Shenandoah National Park. Although one of the largest in the park many of the campsites feel very private and the views looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains are truly spectacular! The site is located at mile marker 79.5, making it a great option for those coming from the southern entrance station at Rockfish Gap.

View a map of the Loft Mountain Campground here. 

Loft Mountain features 207 campsites, most of which are available on a first-come, first served basis. The campground has five restrooms, which can feel a bit crowded given the size of the campground, plenty of water spigots, showers, and a camp store selling essentials. The edges of the campground feature several tent only campsites which are a good option to get a bit more privacy. Nearby hikes include the Blackrock Summit hike and Doyles River Falls.

Loft Mountain makes the perfect campground if you plan on visiting Doyles River Falls. Photo credit NPS.

 

Given the popularity of the Loft Mountain Campground, reservations are recommended during peak summer weekends. If you don’t have a reservation be sure to arrive as early as possible to give yourself the best change to secure a campsite.

Dundo Group Campground (mile 83.7)

Number of Sites: 3 group sites (up to 20 people)
Mile marker: 83.7
Fee: $45/night
RVs: Not permitted.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

The Dundo Group Campground in Shenandoah National Park is exclusively for groups, with each of the three campsites accommodating between 7-20 people. Although a group campground, the fact that there are only three campsites makes this a pleasant place to spend the night. The campground is located at mile 83.7 and is close to many of the highlights of the southern section of Shenandoah such as Blackrock Summit and Sawmill Run Overlook.

View a map of the Dundo Group Campground here. 

Given that there are only three campsites and the Dundo Group Campground, all sites must be reserved in advance.

It is also important to note that there are no RVs allowed at Dundo, so if you’re traveling in your RV you’ll need to camp at one of the other campgrounds in Shenandoah.

Fire pit at a campground in Shenandoah National Park

 

Backcountry campsites in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a backcountry campers dream. The park features over 500 miles of trails that wind their way throughout this stunning landscape and provide countless options for your perfect backpacking trip. However, there are some rules and regulations you’ll need to keep in mind as you plan your backcountry camping trip in Shenandoah National Park, outlined below.

Hiking trail in Shenandoah National Park

Backcountry camping is an incredible way to experience Shenandoah National Park.

 

Backcountry Camping Permits

All backcountry campers in Shenandoah National Park are required to obtain a free permit before starting their trip. This can be done at one of the eight self-registration stations conveniently located throughout the park. You can also obtain a permit through the National Park Service’s online permit system for Shenandoah, accessible here.

Regardless of where you obtain your permit you’ll need to have the following details:

  • Trip leader name and contact information
  • Itinerary including planned stopping points for each day
  • Number of people in your group
  • Number of nights at each campsite
  • Planned start and finish date

Where to camp in the Shenandoah backcountry

Unlike many National Parks, Shenandoah does not have designated backcountry campsites. Rather, the NPS recommends that backcountry hikers camp at obvious campsites which have been developed by previous users. These should be fairly obvious on the trail as you’ll generally be able to see where tents have been placed, logs arranged for seating, etc.

Regardless of where you decide to pitch your tent you’ll need to be at least 1/4 mile from the nearest road,  and avoid close proximity to water sources, other campers, structures, and trails.

You can view all of the backcountry campsite regulations for Shenandoah National Park here.

In addition to mapping out a successful itinerary it is imperative to carry a detailed map and know how to navigate utilizing a map and compass. We highly recommend bringing a copy of the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Topo Map for Shenandoah National Park on any backpacking trip in Shenandoah.

Additionally, trekkers need to be prepared to treat their own water. We recommend bringing a small, packable filter like the Sawyer Squeeze.

River in the Shenandoah backcountry

Be sure to treat the water in Shenandoah National Park.

 

Planning your Itinerary

The expansive trail network in Shenandoah can make planning a backcountry camping trip seem a bit overwhelming. If you’re not familiar with the National Park it can be difficult to know how to start even thinking about what a good itinerary might be. Luckily, the National Park Service has put together comprehensive list of backcountry camping itineraries in Shenandoah. Check it out below.

Check out a comprehensive list of backcountry camping itineraries in Shenandoah here. 

Leave No Trace

Given the sensitive ecosystem of Shenandoah National Park it is essential that you practice Leave No Trace principles when backpacking in the National Park. This includes packing out all of your own trash and property disposing of your waste. Fires are not permitted in the backcountry. 

Properly storing your food is also essential as bears and other wildlife are common throughout the National Park. We recommend bringing a bear canister for any trip into the backcountry.

Black bear in Shenandoah.

Be sure to properly store your food when backpacking in Shenandoah!

 

Shenandoah National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Shenandoah National Park.

Campfires in Shenandoah

Fires are generally allowed at each of the five campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park. The fire must be contained within the provided fire pit/grate and should not be left unattended. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry of Shenandoah, so if you’re planning a backpacking trip be sure to bring a camp stove.

Campfire in Shenandoah National Park

 

Wildlife

A wide variety of wildlife calls Shenandoah National Park home. For campers in the park there are a few you’ll want to be especially aware of. These include:

  • Black bears: Be sure to properly store your food in either the park provided bear bins or in a bear canister. This is especially important for backcountry campers in Shenandoah.
  • Snakes: Shenandoah is home to a diversity of snake species. Most of these are non-venomous and all of them are likely to try and avoid contact with visitors. However, there are several venomous snakes including timber rattlesnakes in the park. Be aware of your surroundings and always keep an eye out!
  • Birds: The stunning landscapes of Shenandoah make a perfect habitat for several species of birds to thrive. Keep an eye out for the stunning peregrine falcon and the elusive scarlet tanager.

For those camping, you’ll primarily want to be vigilant about keeping food properly stored and keeping a close eye out for snakes.

Bear in Shenandoah National park.

A black bear in Shenandoah. Photo courtesy of NPS.

 

Pets

If you’ve spent much time in National Parks you’ll know that pets are typically not permitted on any of the trails. Shenandoah is one of the few exceptions, and you are welcome to bring your pets along on your Shenandoah National Park camping trip. 

Pets are permitted in all of the campgrounds within the park, as well as on backcountry camping trips. However, there are several trails where pets are not allowed, and the National Park Services lists those here.

If you do plan to bring your pet on a camping trip in Shenandoah, keep these regulations in mind:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all time. This includes at the campgrounds.
  • Please pick up your pet waste. Do not bag it and leave it on the side of the trail.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Where to get supplies

Given the length of Shenandoah National Park the best place to get camping supplies is highly dependent on where in the park you are camping. Our recommendations for each section are listed below:

  • Northern section (Matthews Arm Campground)
    • Front Royal, Virginia: The northern gateway town to Shenandoah, Front Royal has all the essentials you’ll need to stock up for your camping trip including a grocery store, outdoor store, liquor store, and gas stations.
    • Elkwallow Wayside: This small eatery is located at mile 24.1 on Skyline Drive. You’ll be able to pick up some basic groceries, camping supplies, and even takeout food here.
  • Middle section (Big Meadows Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground)
    • Luray, Virginia: Luray is smaller than some of the other towns near Shenandoah, but you’ll still find a grocery store, gas station, and outdoor store.
    • Big Meadows Wayside: Larger than Elkwallow Wayside, Big Meadows (mile 51.2) stocks basic groceries, camping and hiking supplies, has a small restaurant, and also sells gas and diesel.
  • Southern section (Loft Mountain Campground, Dundo Group Campground)
    • Waynesboro, Virginia: Waynesboro is near the southern entrance to Shenandoah and has gas stations, groceries stores, and an outdoor shop.
    • Loft Mountain Wayside: Similar to the other options in the park, you’ll be able to get simple groceries, some camping essentials, in addition to the small restaurant on site.

 

Big Meadows Wayside in Shenandoah National Park

Big Meadows Wayside is a perfect place to pick up a few essentials for your Shenandoah camping trip. Photo courtesy of NPS.

 

Camping near Shenandoah National Park

Given the popularity and scarcity of options, it is always possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within Shenandoah National Park. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary! Check out your best options below:

RV campgrounds near Shenandoah National Park

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Shenandoah National Park. The best option for you will depend on which section of the park you’re planning to explore, and we’ve provided RV campgrounds near the northern, central, and southern sections of Shenandoah below.

Twin Rivers Campground – Northern section

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $45/night depending on electricity hookup size.
Capacity: Prices are for two people. Extra guests are $5/night. Kids 16 and under free
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Required. Visit website here or call (540) 636-6192
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Twin Rivers Campground is located north of Shenandoah in Front Royal, VA. A short drive from the Front Royal Entrance Station, this is the perfect place to camp if you’re looking to explore the northern section of the park. The campground features electricity hookups at every site, and river front access to the Shenandoah River.

Luray KOA Campground – Middle section

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Varies depending on size of RV and hookups required.
Capacity: No stated limit.
RVs: Yes, up to 70′.
Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The KOA Luray Campground is located just north of the town of Luray, VA. From here, it is an approximate 20 minute drive to the Thornton Gap Entrance Station. The Luray KOA can accommodate RVs up to 70′ in length and provides guests with access to WiFi, a dog park, snack bar, and pool.

Misty Mountain Camp Resort – Southern section

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $70 – $85/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Misty Mountain Camp Report is located south of Shenandoah National Park in Greenwood, VA. The campground is located just 10 minutes from the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station, providing excellent access to the southern section of Shenandoah. Misty Mountain can accommodate all types of RVs and also has tent sites and cabin rentals. Guests staying at the RV campground get access to tons of amenities including WiFi, a swimming pool, fishing pond, and multiple playgrounds. See their full list of amenities here.

RVs near Shenandoah National Park

There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Shenandoah National Park.

 

Car camping sites near Shenandoah National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Shenandoah National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Shenandoah.

Car camping near Shenandoah National Park.

Car camping near Shenandoah National Park.

 

Shenandoah River State Park

Number of Sites: 71 sites
Fee: $25 – $46/night depending on hookups and residency. More info here. 
Capacity: 6 people per campsite
RVs: Yes, up to 60′.
Reservations: Recommended. Half of the site are also available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Shenandoah River State Park is a true gem that offers abundant camping options just outside of the National Park. This campground is perfect for those looking to avoid the feel of an RV park and also gives access to the beautiful Shenandoah River. The campground is open year round and offers sites with electric and water hookups, tent-only sites, restrooms with showers, and each site also features a fire ring.

This is a great campground for those traveling with their family.

Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground

Number of Sites: 35 sites
Fee: $16/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: All sites are first-come, first served.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground is located near the northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park in the adjacent George Washington National Forest. The campground features 35 sites that can accommodate tents and smaller RVs. All of the campsites are first-come, first-served, so be sure to get there early in the day if you’re hoping to snag a spot.

The campground features vault-toilets (flush toilets and showers available during warmer months) and a water source. Alcoholic drinks are prohibited at this family campground.

Dispersed campsites near Shenandoah National Park

Your final option for camping near Shenandoah National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite in the adjacent George Washington National Forest. This national forest is overseen by the Forest Service/BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

Dispersed camping near Shenandoah National Park

There are some fantastic dispersed campsites just outside of Shenandoah National Park.

 

Crisman Hollow Dispersed Camping

Located to the west of Luray, Crisman Hollow Road (also known as Forest Service Road 724) offers some excellent dispersed camping in George Washington National Forest. Many of the campsites are located along Passage Creek and have fire rings.

The campsites are located near the Scothorn Gap Trail and directions can be found here.

Freecampsites.net also has good information on Crisman Hollow Dispersed Camping.

Slate Lick Fields Dispersed Camping

Located north-west of Harrisonburg, VA the Slate Lick Fields offer great dispersed camping near Shenandoah National Park. The campsites are located along Hog Pen Road and directions can be found here. Keep in mind there is not a good water source here, so you’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water with you.

BLM regulations on dispersed camping allow you to camp for up to 14 days in a 28 day period, so be sure to observe that limit at both of the sites above.

It is especially important to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Shenandoah National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Sunset in Shenandoah

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Routeburn Track | Maps & Routes

The Routeburn Track on New Zealand’s South Island is a classic walk with one of the best alpine crossings in this spectacular country. Over the course of three days the…

The Routeburn Track on New Zealand’s South Island is a classic walk with one of the best alpine crossings in this spectacular country. Over the course of three days the route connects Mt. Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park with jaw dropping scenery throughout. A network of Department of Conservation huts and campsites provide accommodation along the tramp and the walk is well served with plentiful transportation options at both ends. This post will give you an introduction to the incredible Routeburn Track by providing in-depth maps, navigational resources, and much more!

In this post

Views from Harris Saddle on the Routeburn Track.

Stunning views from Harris Saddle on the Routeburn Track.

 

Where is the Routeburn Track?

The Routeburn Track is located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. The route is accessed from the Routeburn Shelter on the eastern end and The Divide on the west. The Routeburn is typically walked from east to west, beginning at the Routeburn Shelter and finishing at the Divide, although it is possible to walk in the opposite direction as well. In between these two points the track crosses the Harris Saddle, with spectacular views of the surrounding high mountains and verdant valleys.

Map showing the Routeburn Track in New Zealand

The Routeburn Track connects Mt. Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks on New Zealand’s South Island.

 

The nearest town to the traditional starting point of the Routeburn Shelter is Glenorchy, located on the far shores of Lake Wakatipu. Glenorchy is a beautiful place to spend a night before your trek and has a much quieter vibe than nearby Queenstown. You’ll find plenty of transport options to the Routeburn Shelter from either Glenorchy or Queenstown, so deciding between the two is a matter of personal preference.

The Routeburn finishes on its western end at what is known as The Divide, which is little more than a car park with a few restrooms. From here most walkers book onward transportation to Te Anau, just south of the Divide, back to the Queenstown area, or north to Milford Sound for a bit of sightseeing. There are plenty transportation providers who will pick you up at the Divide, but be sure you’ve arranged it ahead of time as buses can be full during peak season. 

Hiking alongside Lake Harris on the Routeburn.

 

Between the start and finish points, the Routeburn Track provides some of the best walking in New Zealand. The highlight is the crossing of the Harris Saddle, with its stunning views of the Hollyford Valley, Lake Harris, and the rugged mountains beyond. However, you’ll also experience beautiful beech forest, high-alpine meadows, and a spectacularly situated trail.

There are four Department of Conservation Huts along the route as well as three campsites, giving you plenty of options for accommodation. Given that the Routeburn Track is one of the most popular Great Walks advance bookings for the the huts and campsites is required.

The route is typically completed in three days with overnight stops at the Routeburn Falls Hut and Lake Mackenzie Hut, both located in spectacular settings. For those interested in camping your best bet for a three day itinerary is to camp at the Routeburn Flats campsite and Lake Mackenzie campsite. Below is the standard itinerary for the Routeburn Track:

  • Stage 1: Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut
  • Stage 2: Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut
  • Stage 3: Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide

Routeburn Track Map

Map of the Routeburn Track.

 

In addition to completing the main trail, trampers will have the option to complete a few worthwhile side trips along their trek. The first is the climbing of Conical Hill from the Harris Saddle. If the weather is clear, we highly recommend it as the views are truly outstanding. However, if there is bad weather it is best avoided as conditions at the top can be quite severe.

You’ll also have the opportunity to hike to the top of Key Summit on what will most likely be your last day. This is a shorter hike than Conical Hill, but still boasts stand out views. You can view the trails to the top of Conical Hill and the Key Summit on the maps below.

Map of Conical Hill on the Routeburn Track.

If the weather is pleasant, we highly recommend a hike to the top of Conical Hill from the Harris Saddle.

 

Map of Key Summit on the Routeburn

If you just can’t get enough of the tremendous views on the Routeburn be sure to take a side trip to the top of Key Summit.

 

Interactive Routeburn map

The interactive Routeburn Track map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.

 

How long is the Routeburn?

The Department of Conservation website lists the Routeburn track as 33 kilometers long. While certainly a very accurate estimate, we measure (via GPS) the Routeburn to be 31.45 kilometers (19.5 miles) from the Routeburn Shelter to The Divide. 

Of course, measuring the exact distance of the walk has very little practical value as you’ll certainly end up walking a bit further than any exact distance we provide. Most walkers will at a minimum want to take a side trip to the top of Conical Hill, weather permitting, which adds an additional 2 kilometers. Add in the 1.7 kilometer round-trip hike to the top of Key Summit and you’ve already walked over 35 kilometers total.   In addition, evening explorations to stretch the legs, countless opportunities to take in view points, and short side trips to trail side lakes will make the distance actually walked vary from person to person.

However, it is still helpful to have an idea of the distances of each stage of the Routeburn Track. The map below shows just that, with the approximate distances of each stage provided. The distances are calculated based on the classic itinerary outlined above.

Map of the Routeburn Track with stage distances shown.

Distances for the traditional three stages of the Routeburn Track.

 

Routeburn Track Elevation Profile

At its heart the Routeburn Track is an alpine crossing as walkers make their way over the Harris Saddle. As discussed above, this takes approximately 31.5 kilometers and gains 2,130 meters. Averaged over the traditional three stages this equates to an average of 710 meters of elevation gain each day. The majority of this elevation gain occurs on the first stage as walkers begin the long ascent towards the Harris Saddle.

Harris Saddle is near the high point of the Routeburn Track and sits at 1,254 meters above sea level. For those who trek to the top of Concial Hill you’ll reach an elevation of 1,515 meters. Since The Divide sits at a slightly higher elevation than the Routeburn Shelter, those walking in the traditional direction will gain a bit more elevation than they lose.

The elevation profile shown below will give you an overview of what each stage of the Routeburn Track in like in terms of total elevation change as well as distance covered. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents one of the Department of Conservation Huts/Campsites along the route.

The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the the stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from the Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut has a lot of elevation gain, while the stage from Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide covers quite a bit of distance.

You can use the elevation profile below to help plan your own itinerary for the Routeburn Track, taking into account distance and elevation between any two stopping points.

Elevation profile of the Routeburn Track.

Elevation profile of the Routeburn Track.

 

Which maps should I carry on the Routeburn Track?

As with all the Great Walks, the Routeburn Track is a well marked and easy to follow trail. Given the number of hikers, clear path, and good signage there will be little opportunity to take a wrong turn. However, we always recommend carrying a physical map with you on any backcountry trip. 

The best physical map to bring on the Routeburn is the NewTopo Routeburn/Greenstone-Caples Track map. This map covers the tramp at a 1:40,000 scale and also includes the nearby Greenstone-Caples Track. Given that you are more likely than not to experience at least some rain on your walk, we also recommend bringing a waterproof carrying case like this one.

Beyond just a physical map, we highly recommend all hikers along the Routeburn have some type of GPS navigation on their walk. The Routeburn is notorious for thick fog/cloud cover that can set in on the track, making navigation difficult. A GPS app on your phone can greatly help with this issue, as the signal can typically penetrate the cloud cover to show you where you are on the trail at any given point. Since there is limited to no cell phone service on the Routeburn Track, it is very important to have a good offline mapping app, such as Gaia GPS, to ensure you’ll be able to access your location along the walk.

These apps combined with our Routeburn Track GPS digital download should give you a solid foundation to navigate from while on the tramp.

Stage-by-stage maps for the Routeburn Track

The Routeburn is typically walked over three days, with each stage finishing at a Department of Conservation Hut/Campsite. Maps for the traditional three day Routeburn itinerary are shown below.

Stage 1: Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut

Distance: 9.1 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +800 m / -304 m

Map of Stage 1 of the Routeburn Track from Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut

Stage 1 of the Routeburn Track from the Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut.

 

Stage 2: Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut

Distance: 10.85 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +702 m / -787 m

Map of Stage 2 of the Routeburn Track from Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut

Stage 2 of the Routeburn Track from Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut.

 

Stage 3: Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide

Distance: 11.49 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +629 m / -996 m

Map of Stage 3 of the Routeburn Track from Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide

Stage 3 of the Routeburn Track from Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide.

 

Routeburn Track GPS/GPX

If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our Routeburn Track GPX file for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each stage of the Routeburn Track, way-points for each of the Department of Conservation huts and campsites along the route, and route data for the Conical Hill and Key Summit side trips.

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Routeburn Track Map

BUY NOW

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the Routeburn Track. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you likely won’t have) to display the map. Our How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. Although written for a different hike, this step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device for the Routeburn.

Have a great Routeburn Adventure!

We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the Routeburn Track. Let us know your questions or comments below. Happy trails!

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Coast to Coast Walk Accommodation

The incredible scenery you’ll experience on England’s celebrated Coast to Coast Walk can only be rivaled by the warm hospitality you’ll receive along the way. Whether you’re enjoying rich pub…

The incredible scenery you’ll experience on England’s celebrated Coast to Coast Walk can only be rivaled by the warm hospitality you’ll receive along the way. Whether you’re enjoying rich pub meals and luxurious B&B’s or roughing it with some trail mix and a tent, the places you spend your nights on the Coast to Coast Walk are sure to be as memorable as the ones traversed in the daytime hours.

We put together this guide to help you get the most out of your accommodation experience during your Coast to Coast adventure. Here’s what’s covered in the post:

St. Bees Head Coast to Coast Walk

Coast to Coast Walk Accommodation Basics


Do I need to reserve my accommodation in advance for the Coast to Coast Walk?

Generally speaking, yes. During the peak season (May-August), it is very likely that many places will be sold out nearly every night. Even outside of the busy months, it is a good idea to make advance bookings for places in resort areas, small towns with few accommodation options, and on weekends.

Most campgrounds on the Coast to Coast Walk do not require reservations, but there are a few notable exceptions. You should book ahead for any campgrounds in the Lakes District during peak months, and at smaller camping areas like Lord Stones.

When booking for peak season, the earlier the better. If possible, try to reserve the most in-demand accommodations 3-6 months in advance. If you’re more of a last-minute person, don’t despair. Even calling a few days ahead while you’re on the trail could really pay off.

Coast to Coast Walk Camping Gear
Bookings aren’t required for most campgrounds on the C2C, but there are some important exceptions.

How much does accommodation cost on the Coast to Coast Walk?

A wonderful aspect of the Coast to Coast Walk is its very customizable nature. No two walkers have the same experience on this dynamic trek; in fact, if you walk it twice you’ll likely have vastly different experiences each time! Just as you can tailor your itinerary to match your timeframe and your packing list to fit your travel style, so can you choose accommodation to fit your budget.

Prices vary greatly from place to place, but generally speaking, here’s what you can expect to pay for accommodation along the Coast to Coast Walk:

  • B&B/Guesthouse/Hotel: £75+ (per person/per night)
  • Bunkhouse/Hostel: £40 (per person/per night)
  • Camping: £10 (per person/per night)

In our accommodation directory, we’ve provided our recommendations for high-end, mid-range, and budget options at all of the typical Coast to Coast stops. We’ve defined those categories as follows:

  • High-End: £70+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: £40-70 (per person/per night)
  • Budget:<£40 (per person/per night)

Want to know more about budgeting and money on the Coast to Coast Walk? Check out our Ultimate Guide for a detailed cost list and other essential information!

Full English Breakfast at a B&B on the Coast to Coast walk
If you choose to stay at B&B’s. you can expect to eat like a king!

Coast to Coast Walk Accommodation Directory


There are fabulous places to stay along the entire Coast to Coast route. In this directory, we’ll give you key details about all of your options, as well as our best recommendations for every budget.

We’ve organized our list to follow most variations of the classic west-to-east walking itinerary.

If you’re looking for a helpful visual to go with this list, be sure to check out this Coast to Coast Maps & Routes article!

Patterdale Coast to Coast Walk
The charming village of Patterdale.

St. Bees

High-End: Stone House Farm

You’ll start your walk fully energized from the comfortable beds and lavish breakfast spread at Stone House Farm. The service is friendly and personalized and the location is convenient. Those on a tight budget can camp in the lovely garden.

Mid-Range: The Seacote Hotel

The oceanfront location of this hotel means that it provides great views and easy access to the official start of the Coast to Coast Walk. A full English breakfast is included in your room rate and dogs are welcome (for an additional fee).

Budget: Seacote Caravan Park

If you plan on staying in St. Bees for a few nights before starting your walk, this is a great budget option. You can rent a holiday caravan that is quite luxurious and provides beautiful views (minimum 3-night stay). Alternatively, a great budget option is to camp at their well-appointed seaside campground.

Cleator

High-End: Jasmine House B&B

With spotless rooms, helpful staff, and a hearty breakfast, this is an excellent option in Cleator. It is located just steps from the Coast to Coast route, making it a convenient place to stop.

Mid-Range: Ennerdale Country House Hotel

The friendly staff at Ennerdale Country House Hotel welcome both people and dogs to their tranquil abode. The lovely garden is a perfect place to relax after a day of walking.

Ennerdale Bridge

High-End: Thorntrees B&B

Thorntrees B&B is an excellent stop on the Coast to Coast Walk for a multitude of reasons. The location is ideal for walkers, the rooms are cozy and luxurious, and the food is top-notch.

Mid-Range: Fox and Hounds Inn

A stay at this cozy pub and inn is sure to be a quintessential Coast to Coast experience. The Fox and Hounds is at the heart of Ennerdale Bridge, and a popular gathering point for C2C walkers to enjoy a pint and swap stories. Rooms are basic but comfortable.

Budget: YHA Ennerdale

To reach this well-appointed hostel, you’ll need to walk an extra couple of hours past the town of Ennerdale Bridge and traverse the entire length of Ennerdale Water. Those willing to go the extra miles will be rewarded with an atmospheric stay at a great value (private rooms and dorms are available).

Black Sail Hut

Mid-Range: YHA Black Sail Hostel

If you are looking to complete the Coast to Coast Walk at a more relaxed pace, you may want to consider staying at the Black Sail to break up a long and strenuous stretch of the walk. If you choose to do this, it is imperative to reserve your bed at the Black Sail in advance, as it only sleeps 16 people in total.

Black Sail Hostel Coast to Coast Walk
The delightfully cozy Black Sail Hostel.

Rosthwaite

High-End: Hazel Bank Country House

If you’re looking for an all-around exceptional Cumbrian B&B experience, look no further than Hazel Bank Country House. From the stunning setting to their homemade truffles, every detail is curated to make your stay relaxing and memorable.

Mid-Range: Royal Oak Hotel

This cozy family-run hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Borrowdale, giving you easy access to the Coast to Coast route and a smattering of pubs. The knowledgeable staff are happy to provide helpful advice to C2C walkers.

Budget: YHA Borrowdale

YHA consistently provides excellent budget accommodations throughout the UK, and the Borrowdale location is no different. With convenient amenities (drying room, communal kitchen, free wifi), central location, and friendly lounge, it is the best budget option in the area. Private rooms, dorms, camping pods, and tent camping are available.

Grasmere

High-End: Heidi’s Grasmere Lodge

This exceptional B&B is located steps from the center of town, yet still provides a tranquil setting and beautiful views. The staff is friendly and the service exceptional, plus there’s a great cafe on site.

Mid-Range: Raise Cottage

Raise cottage provides both private rooms and dorm-style accommodation, but it is a big step up from your typical bunkhouse or hostel. The delightful owner serves up fresh bread and homemade jam each morning, and the cottage is rustic yet tidy. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll need to walk an additional two miles past Grasmere to reach Raise Cottage.

Budget: YHA Grasmere Butharlyp Howe

You guessed it- another YHA! It it unlikely that you’ll tire of staying at these hostels, especially when you see the gorgeous setting for the YHA Grasmere. Located in a magical old mansion just minutes from the shops and restaurants in town, this hostel is excellent. Choose from private rooms, dorms, and camping.

Patterdale

High-End: Old Water View Hotel

Options in Patterdale are rather limited, but you won’t be starved for creature comforts at the Old Water View. Rooms are cozy and peaceful, and the breakfast is excellent. Those looking for a more affordable and/or more unique accommodation can stay in the quaint “Herdy Hut” shepherd’s hut in the garden.

Mid-Range: The White Lion Inn

While it may be a bit lacking in regards to stellar service and smart furnishings, the White Lion makes up for it in convenience and camaraderie. The downstairs pub is a festive gathering place for Coast to Coast Walkers and it’s located directly along the route.

Budget: YHA Patterdale

From the cozy lounge area to the well-stocked communal kitchen to the newly-renovated showers to the serene lakefront setting, there’s a lot to love at this hostel. The YHA Patterdale offers private rooms, dorms, and camping.

Shap

High-End: The Greyhound Hotel

Though its history can be traced all the way back to 1680, there are plenty of modern touches to accompany all of the Greyhound’s old world charm. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, many with nice views, as well as an excellent bar and delicious breakfast.

Mid-Range: Brookfield House B&B

Although the price falls into the mid-range category, the hospitality at Brookfield House certainly feels high-end! The warm and friendly owners are legendary among C2C walkers for knowing exactly what weary hikers need from the moment they arrive and throughout their stay.

Budget: New Ing Lodge

This lovely B&B is located in a pastoral setting on the edge of town. It offers great amenities at a reasonable price, especially for pairs and groups. There is also a large space with great facilities on-site for campers.

Kirkby Stephen

High-End: Fletcher House

With a prime location and plenty of thoughtful touches for walkers, Fletcher House is arguably the best place to stay in Kirkby Stephen. After a night at this well-appointed B&B, you’ll be fully rested and fueled up for the next stage of your Coast to Coast adventure.

Mid-Range: The King’s Arms B&B

The central location, lovely terrace, and clean, cozy rooms make the King’s Arms an excellent moderately-priced option. There are en suite rooms available, as well as a few lower-priced rooms with a shared bathroom.

Budget: Kirkby Stephen Hostel

Located inside an old church, this convenient hostel has a beautiful and unique interior. The ambiance is balanced nicely with functional amenities, such as a communal kitchen, free wifi, bike and luggage storage, and a drying room. All of the beds are in dormitories with shared bathrooms.

A trail sign on the Coast to Coast Walk shows the distances to St. Bees and Robin Hood's Bay
A trail sign in Kirkby Stephen reminds walkers of the incredible distances they’ve covered!

Keld

High-End: Frith Lodge B&B

This atmospheric B&B is set in a stunning location with grand vistas of the Dales in every direction. Guests will enjoy warm hospitality, well-equipped rooms, and delicious homemade meals.

Mid-Range: Butt House B&B

This cozy B&B is centrally located in the small, idyllic village of Keld. The guest rooms offer thoughtful touches and great views, and the common area is a perfect place to relax after a long day on your feet.

Budget: Keld Bunk Barn

This unique accommodation puts a luxury spin on the classic bunkhouse. Not only are affordable-yet-plush dorm beds available, but there are also private en suite rooms and deluxe yurts for rent. Enjoy a soak in the private hot tub and dine on delicious homemade meals to really make the most of this little oasis in Keld.

Reeth

High-End: The Burgoyne Hotel

Set in a beautiful country house, the Burgoyne offers classic charm and fantastic service. Guests will enjoy super comfortable beds, tasteful furnishings, and delicious breakfast fare.

Mid-Range: Ivy Cottage B&B

This charming bed and breakfast is located right on the village green in the center of Reeth. Each cozy room comes with its own private bathroom and plenty of thoughtful amenities. The afternoon tea is lovely and the breakfast features local ingredients.

Budget: Orchard Caravan Park

Although there is a two-night minimum to rent their caravans, Coast to Coast walkers can camp or stay in the bunkhouse for a very modest fee. Guests are given a warm welcome and a good cup of tea on arrival. Orchard Caravan Park is located in a pretty pastoral setting about fifteen minutes’ walk from the village green.

Richmond

High-End: The Castle House B&B

If by this point in your Coast to Coast Walk you are seeking a bit of pampering, look no further than the Castle House. Named for its location steps from the iconic Richmond Castle, this bed and breakfast feels just as regal as its neighbor. From the nightly turndown service to the luxurious bathrooms, every detail is impeccable.

Mid-Range: The Turf Hotel

This centrally located hotel offers basic accommodation for a very good value. The rooms are clean and comfortable and the staff are friendly and helpful.

Budget: The Golden Lion Bunkhouse

Cheap accommodation is hard to come by in swanky Richmond, so the Golden Lion is truly a hidden gem. The space consists of a small dormitory with a shared bathroom and a kettle. Located above the Golden Lion Pub in the heart of Richmond, this is a comfortable and convenient choice.

Richmond Castle Coast to Coast Walk
Richmond Castle.

Brompton-on-Swale

Mid-Range: The Farmers Arms Inn

Brompton-on-Swale is an ideal stop for those looking to break up the long walk between Richmond and Danby Wiske, but accommodation options are limited in this area. Fortunately, the Farmers Arms serves up quality hospitality in its well-appointed private guestrooms. A full English breakfast is included, and there is a playground for those walking with children.

Budget: Brompton on Swale Bunk Barn

This dorm-style accommodation offers friendly lodging at a great value. There is a shared kitchen and shower available, and the property is located close to pubs and the village shop. Dogs are welcome and camping is permitted on site.

Danby Wiske

High-End/Mid-Range: Ashfield House B&B (01609 771628)

Though there are rather few accommodation options in Danby Wiske, you can still find a quality bed and breakfast experience at Ashfield House. The friendly owners will make sure that your stay is pleasant and comfortable.

Mid-Range: Inglenook B&B

This is a lovely option in the heart of Danby Wiske. The B&B has a quaint and charming feel, and the hosts serve up plenty of genuine hospitality. Keep in mind that only twin beds are available here.

Budget: The White Swan

The White Swan is a classic country pub of the very best kind. Beyond good ales and hearty meals, they also offer simple accommodation in recently-updated private rooms for a variety of group sizes. Camping is also available on site.

Ingleby Arncliffe

High-End: Park House Guest House

This beautiful gem is located right on the Coast to Coast path and they know how to cater to weary walkers. From laundry service to lifts to the local pub for supper, the wonderful people at Park House will ensure you feel welcome and rejuvenated.

Mid-Range: Swan House B&B

Friendly hosts, luxurious bedding, a well-stocked bar, and a delicious breakfast spread…there’s a lot to love about the Swan House! This reasonably priced accommodation also offers more budget-friendly lodging in their caravan park. Keep in mind that Swan House is a couple of miles from the main Coast to Coast route, although the owners may be able to provide you with a lift back to the path in the morning.

Budget: The Blue Bell Inn

This family-run inn is conveniently located next to the pub and right along the Coast to Coast path. Rooms are basic, but each one is en suite and breakfast is included with your stay. Campers are welcome in a large grassy field behind the pub.

Ingleby Cross Coast to Coast Walk
A coffee stop near Ingleby Cross.

Osmotherley

High-End: Vane House

This bed and breakfast is a clean, comfortable, and cozy place to recharge in the quaint town of Osmotherley. It is located right in the center of the village, with easy access to the pub and shops.

Mid-Range: The Golden Lion Inn

While it’s got plenty of old school 18th-century charm, this isn’t your typical pub accommodation. Rooms at the Golden Lion are very well-appointed with beautiful oak finishes and curated toiletries in the private bathrooms. Breakfast is included with your stay.

Budget: YHA Osmotherley

This is a great budget option with all of the comforts and conveniences you’d expect from a YHA hostel, such as a drying room, lounge, and communal kitchen. There are several choices of room sizes available, and campers are welcome in the large garden.

Clay Bank Top/Great Broughton/Chop Gate

High-End/Mid-Range: Newlands House B&B

Warm hospitality is the trademark of this traditional bed and breakfast in Great Broughton. The friendly hosts will make every effort to ensure your stay is special, from lifts to/from the Coast to Coast path (about two miles away) to home-cooked meals and comfortable furnishings.

Mid-Range: Wainstones Hotel

This comfortable hotel is located in the lovely village of Great Broughton, about two miles north of the Coast to Coast path. If those extra miles sound daunting, fear not- the friendly staff will pick you up and/or drop you off at the trail. Some of the decor could use an updating, but there are plenty of thoughtful touches and good amenities to make Wainstones a great choice.

Budget: Lordstones

Lordstones is the only accommodation that can boast a trailside location at this point in the walk. This luxury camping park features camping pods, yurts, and grassy tent pitches, all with access to excellent bathroom facilities, a farm shop, cafe, and restaurant.

Blakey Ridge

Mid-Range: The Lion Inn

Perhaps the most special aspect of traversing the North York Moors is the feeling one gets of being in the middle of nowhere. The only downside of that is there’s not much accommodation to be had in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, the iconic Lion Inn has been welcoming weary travelers to their remote locales for centuries. A number of room sizes are available, all with private bathrooms and breakfast included. Camping is also permitted on site.

North York Moors Stage 12 Coast to Coast Walk
Beautiful purple heather in the North York Moors.

Glaisdale

High-End: Red House Farm

Not only does Red House Farm offer well-appointed B&B guest rooms and cottages in their tranquil setting, but they also have a pool, spa, and conservatory on site. This is a great place to get in some pampering before you embark on the final stretches of your Coast to Coast Walk.

Mid-Range/Budget: Arncliffe Arms

Conveniently located in the center of Glaisdale and above the town pub, Arncliffe Arms is an excellent option for Coast to Coast walkers. The generous breakfast will keep you fueled for miles and miles!

Grosmont

High-End/Mid-Range: Geall Gallery B&B

The luxurious rooms at this bed and breakfast are as tastefully curated as the landscape paintings in Chris Geall’s gallery below them. Art fans will appreciate this unique accommodation, and all Coast to Coast Walkers will enjoy the cozy on-site cafe and central location.

Mid-Range/Budget: Intake Farm B&B (Littlebeck)

Those looking for a great value may want to consider walking a few extra miles to reach Intake Farm in Littlebeck. Your extra effort will be rewarded with a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake upon arrival, not to mention an excellent shower and lovely pastoral setting. Those on a shoestring budget can camp in the pretty garden and enjoy access to the nice facilities inside the house.

Robin Hood’s Bay

High-End: Fernleigh B&B

A stay at the luxurious Fernleigh is the perfect way to celebrate the completion of your Coast to Coast walk. The newly renovated victorian home features top-notch amenities and beautiful decor on a quiet street near the center of town. The wonderful owners will make sure you feel welcome and well-fed.

Mid-Range: The Grosvenor Hotel

The Grosvenor is a favorite accommodation for many Coast to Coast walkers and for good reason. Guests at this charming hotel will enjoy spotless rooms, a delicious breakfast, and a location that’s just five minutes’ to the beach.

Budget: YHA Boggle Hole

Of all the fantastic YHA hostels, this might be the most magical. Tucked away in an old smugglers cove, the main building is set in a recently-renovated historic mill building. The entire place embraces a fun nautical theme and boasts excellent facilities and lots of fun activities. Dorms and private en suite rooms are available.

Shap Coast to Coast Walk Stage Five

What’s Next?

Check out our other great Coast to Coast Walk Resources:

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Milford Track | Maps & Routes

The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most stunning Great Walks and is commonly referred to as the ‘finest walk in the world’. The route starts along the shores…

The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most stunning Great Walks and is commonly referred to as the ‘finest walk in the world’. The route starts along the shores of Lake Te Anau and finishes in Milford Sound at Sandfly Point. The Milford track is completed in four days with overnight accommodation at well run Department of Conservation huts. This article will introduce you to this incredible trail, give an overview of the Milford Track route, as well as provide in depth maps, navigational resources, and much more so you can be sure you’re ready to tackle the finest walk in the world!

Hikers along New Zealand's Milford Track

Hikers along New Zealand’s Milford Track.

 

In this post

Where is the Milford Track?

Located in the far southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, the Milford Track explores the stunning valleys, high mountain passes, and untouched rainforest of Fiordland National Park.

Map of New Zealand showing the Milford Track

The Milford Track brings walkers to the stunning Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.

 

The walk begins at Glade Wharf along the shores of Lake Te Anau, which is only accessible via boat from Te Anau Downs. The nearest town to the start of the walk is Te Anau, where there is ample accommodation for both before and after the walk. On the northern end of the track walkers will finish at Sandfly Point, a short boat ride from Milford Sound village. While not exactly a town, here you’ll find overnight accommodation, transportation links, and plenty of tour operators. Walkers may be in for a bit of shock when they encounter the vast number of visitors in Milford Sound for a boat tour, kayak trip, or sightseeing flight after four days in the wilderness!

Milford Sound at the end of the Milford Track.

The Milford Track finishes with a boat ride through Milford Sound.

 

In between Glade Wharf and Sandfly Point, walkers will spend most of their trek exploring two glacially carved valleys (the Clinton and Arthur River valleys) separated by the stunning Mackinnon Pass. You must stay in the designated Department of Conservation huts along the way (unless you have booked a private, guided trek) and you must complete the walk in four days during the Great Walk season from the end of October through the end of April. This is to help manage the total number of walkers on the track at any point and ensure trampers stay reasonably spread out along the trek. The stages of the Milford Track are as follows:

  • Stage 1: Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut
  • Stage 2: Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut
  • Stage 3: Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut
  • Stage 4: Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point

Milford Track Map

The Milford Track must be completed in four stages.

 

Unlike many long-distance walks, there are no alternate trails along the Milford Track. However, there is the opportunity to take in a few side trails along the way, with the most notable example being a visit to Sutherland Falls, shown on the map below.

Map of Sutherland Falls in New Zealand

Sutherland Falls can be visited via a short detour off the Milford Track.

 

Interactive Milford Track map

The interactive Milford Track map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.

 

How long is the Milford Track?

Most sources list the Milford Track as being 53.5 kilometers or 33.2 miles long from Glade Wharf to Sandfly Point. While this is certainly very accurate, we measure (via GPS) the Milford Track to be 54.5 kilometers long. But what’s a single kilometer!

Of course, measuring the exact distance of the walk has very little practical value as you’ll certainly end up walking a bit further than any exact distance we provide. Most walkers will at a minimum want to take a side trip to see the spectacular Sutherland Falls, which is approximately 4.5 kilometers round-trip. In addition, evening explorations to stretch the legs, countless opportunities to take in view points, and short side trips to trail side lakes will make the distance actually walked vary from person to person.

However, it is still helpful to have an idea of the distances of each stage of the Milford Track. The map below shows just that, with the approximate distances of each stage provided. These distances don’t include a trip to Sutherland Falls so be sure to factor that in as well.

Map of the Milford Tack with stage distances

Distances of the four stages of the Milford Track in kilometers.

 

What is the elevation profile of the Milford Track?

Over the course of the Milford Track’s 54.5 kilometers the trail gains approximately 1,755 meters! Averaged across the four stages this equates to around 440 meters of elevation gain each day. Of course, the majority of this elevation games comes on Stage 2 and 3 of the Milford Track which brings the crossing of Mackinnon Pass.

Mackinnon Pass is the high point (literally and figuratively!) of the Milford Track at 1,154 meters above sea level. Given that you finish at sea-level you can at least appreciate the fact that you’ll ultimately lose more elevation than you’ll gain on the Milford Track.

Mackinnon Pass on the Milford Track

Mackinnon Pass is the high point of the Milford Track.

 

The elevation profile shown below will give you an overview of what each stage of the Milford Track in like in terms of total elevation change as well as distance covered. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents one of the Department of Conservation Huts along the route where each stage finishes.

The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the the stage. So for instance you can see that the stage from Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut has a lot of elevation gain, while the stage from Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut covers quite a bit of distance.

Elevation profile of the Milford Track in New Zealand

Elevation profile for the Milford Track in kilometers and meters.

 

Which maps should I carry on the Milford Track?

The Milford Track is a remarkably well marked and easy to follow trail. There is little opportunity to take a wrong turn and most trampers will have no problem navigating on the trail. However, we always recommend carrying a map with you on any backcountry or wilderness excursion and the Milford Track is no exception.

When we walked the Milford Track we did not rely on a physical map, instead preferring to utilize GPS navigation on our phones. Given that there is limited to no cell phone service on the Milford Track, it is very important to have a good offline mapping app, such as Gaia GPS, to ensure you’ll be able to access your location along the walk.

In addition to GPS navigation, we recommend all trampers also carry a physical map. In the event the famous Fiordland rain renders your phone unusable you’ll be glad you brought it! There are a few options for Milford Track topographic maps out there, and we recommend the NewTopo map available here. The 1:40,000 scale is sufficient for basic navigation along the route.

Given the high probability of rain during your trek we also recommend bringing a weatherproof carrying case like this one.

Stage-by-stage maps for the Milford Track

The Milford Track is broken into four distinct stages with each stage finishing at a designated Department of Conservation hut. Maps for each of the four stages of the Milford Track are shown below.

Stage 1:  Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut

Distance: 4.8 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +140 m / -150m

Map of Stage 1 of the Milford Track.

Stage 1 from Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut.

 

Stage 2: Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut

Distance: 17.75 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +854 m / -430 m

Map of Stage 2 of the Milford Track

Stage 2 from Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut.

 

Stage 3: Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut

Distance: 13.7 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +753 m / -1248 m

Map of Stage 3 of the Milford Track.

Stage 3 from the Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut.

 

Stage 4: Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point

Distance: 18.3 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +560 m / -672 m

Map of Stage 4 of the Milford Track.

Stage 4 from the Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point.

 

Milford Track GPS/GPX

If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our Milford Track GPX files for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each stage of the Milford Track, plus way-points for each of the Department of Conservation huts along the route.

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Milford Track Map

BUY NOW
 

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the Milford Track. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you likely won’t have) to display the map. Our Milford Track Offline Mapping post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. This step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device.

Sandfly Point at the finish of the Milford Track.

 

What’s Next?

Check out our other great Milford Track Resources:

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Abel Tasman Coast Track: The Complete Guide

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, treks that are designed to showcase the best of this stunning country. The Coast Track highlights the…

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, treks that are designed to showcase the best of this stunning country. The Coast Track highlights the incredible beaches, tropical forests, and turquoise waters of the Abel Tasman National Park on the northwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Over 60+ kilometers, the Abel Tasman Coast Track follows the often rugged coastline and is serviced by a series of Department of Conservation huts and campsites along the route. The track is the easiest of all the Great Walks due to its easy grades, well maintained trail, and ease of access.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to plan your perfect adventure on the Abel Tasman Coast Track!

Map of the Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Abel Tasman Coast Track covers 60+ km from Marahau to Wainui.

 

Abel Tasman Coast Track: In this post

Abel Tasman Coast Track: Must Know

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is the most popular of the Great Walks. It follows the shoreline from the car park just north of the town of Marahau to its end point at Wainui. However, due to the lack of transportation options at Wainui, many walkers opt to finish at Totaranui by completing the Gibbs Hill track at the end of the walk. Completing the entire walk will take you along 60+ kilometers of this beautiful coastline with overnight accommodation options frequent along the walk. Keep reading below for some essential information as you begin to plan your Abel Tasman Coast Track adventure!

Beach along the Abel Tasman Coast Track

You’ll visit countless stunning beaches along your walk.

 

How long is the Coast Track?

The short answer: it depends!

In general, trampers should expect to cover around 60 kilometers on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. This will of course vary depending on your chosen itinerary, if you’re able to take low-tide routes, side trips to see points of interest, and countless other factors. However, we’ve provided some general distances for planning purposes below:

  • For those completing the Coast Track in its entirety and finishing at the Wainui car park you’ll cover approximately 58 kilometers.
  • If opt to complete the Gibbs Hill Track to connect back to Totaranui (which we recommend!) you should plan on covering 62 kilometers.

In addition to the main track, there are countless opportunities to take short detours along the walk to stunning viewpoints, waterfalls, and sandy beaches. These will surely add a bit of distance to your total walk, but we highly recommend exploring while on your walk!

Map of the Abel Tasman Coast Track

 

How difficult is the Coast Track?

The Abel Tasman Coast Walk is considered by many to be the easiest of New Zealand’s Great Walks. The trail is very well maintained and you’ll rarely encounter a tough section. Most trampers opt to walk in just running shoes given the ease of the trail and the likelihood of getting your feet wet. However, walkers should still be well prepared as any multi-day trek is a serious undertaking.

Many of the challenges of walking in Abel Tasman National Park are related to heat, bugs, and the highly variable tides. Be sure to bring plenty of water, a good hat, insect repellent, and be aware of tidal crossing. Keeping these tips in mind, most reasonably fit hikers should have no problem completing the Abel Tasman Coast Track. 

A section of trail on the Coast Track.

You can expect well maintained trails and easy walking on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

 

Abel Tasman Coast Track Reservations

Advance reservations are required for all of the huts and campsites along the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Given the popularity of the walk, it is recommended that you book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. You can book your huts/campsites directly through the Department of Conservation at the link below:

Book Accommodation for the Abel Tasman Coast Track

It is important to think through a few key details prior to making your booking, all of which we cover in this post:

  • How many days will you take to walk the Coast Track?
  • How do you plan to get back to Marahau from the end of your walk?

If possible, it is good to have some flexibility in the number of days you’ll spend on the track and/or the day you plan to start. You may discover that a specific hut or campsite is fully booked for your ideal day, in which case you may need to get creative to plan your walk. Camping alleviates some of this issue as there are 19 campsites along the route compared with only four huts.

Advance reservations are required for all huts and campsites along the Coast Track.

 

When to hike the Coast Track

The Abel Tasman Coast Track can be walked year round. This part of New Zealand is renowned for its abundant sunshine and mild climate, making the Coast Track the perfect adventure for any time of year. A breakdown by season is below:

Summer (December, January, February):

During New Zealand’s summer months the track will be at its most crowded. However, in exchange for these crowds you’ll get reliably sunny weather, plenty of transportation options, and might even be able to brave the chilly waters for longer than a few minutes!

Sandy beach on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Summer brings near perfect weather to the region.

 

Fall (March, April, May):

Many consider fall to be the best time to walk the Abel Tasman Coast Track. The crowds start to thin out, but you’re still likely to be treated to warm and sunny weather. If you have your pick, this is the time to walk!

Fall may be the best time to walk the Coast Track.

 

Winter (June, July, August):

Come the winter months you’ll be more likely to encounter cooler temperatures and rain along the walk. However, accommodation should be easy to reserve and you can expect to have many sections of trail to yourself!

Abel Tasman National Park

Winter brings cooler temperatures and more rain to Abel Tasman National Park, but also plenty of solitude along the Coast Track.

 

Spring (September, October, November):

As winter turns to spring the weather in Abel Tasman National Park starts to improve. While you can expect to see a few more rain showers, this is generally a great time to walk the Coast Track before the summer crowds arrive.

Cloudy day in Abel Tasman National Park

 

Tides on the Coast Track

Given the fact that the Coast Track closely follows the shoreline, walkers will need to be aware of tides, especially in the two sections described below:

Awaroa Inlet
You’ll encounter the Awaroa Inlet immediately after the Awaroa Hut, on what will likely be your third or fourth day of the walk. The tides here are dramatic, varying by up to 6 meters depending on the time of day and season. For this reason, you are only able to cross the Awaroa Inlet between 1.5 hours before and 2 hours after low tide. This is important to plan for as the low tide time will dictate how far you are able to walk that day. The Department of Conservation publishes low tide times here. 

High tide at the Awaroa Inlet on the Coast Track

High tide at the Awaroa Inlet.

 

Low tide at the Awaroa Inlet

Low tide at the Awaroa Inlet – much easier to cross!

 

Torrent Bay
Torrent Bay is just past the Anchorage Hut and most walkers will need to cross here at the start of their second day. Similar to the Awaroa Inlet above, Torrent Bay can only be crossed within two hours of low-tide. Fortunately, there is a high-tide track that circumnavigates the bay and allows walkers to cross at anytime. See the map below for more detail. Our best advice is to plan on taking the high-tide track around Torrent Bay, but you just may get lucky and be able to cross at low-tide.

Torrent Bay tide

There is a high-tide and low-tide option for crossing Torrent Bay on the Coast Track.

 

Bugs & Pests

There are few things that could spoil the splendor of your surroundings while walking the Coast Track in Abel Tasman National Park. The few that you should be prepared for are sandflies and wasps. You’ll encounter sandflies throughout New Zealand and those who have been in the country for more than a few days will likely be all too familiar with them. These tiny, biting insects swarm you covering any exposed skin with itchy bites! It’s not all doom and gloom though as sandflies are mostly only around during the dawn and dusk hours. Be sure to bring some insect repellent for when they do come out though!

The other nuisance to be aware of in the Abel Tasman region is the prevalence of wasps. Their nests are common throughout the park, though you are likely to go your entire trek without encountering any. Still, if you are highly allergic be sure you have any needed allergy medication. For other trampers, it is best to pack some Benadryl or other antihistamine just in case of a sting. The Department of Conservation undertook a control program in 2015 to reduce their prevalence in Abel Tasman National Park.

Beach in Abel Tasman

The beautiful beaches of Abel Tasman can harbor some unwanted pests!

 

Abel Tasman Coast Track: Logistics

The Coast Track is remarkably well connected and easy to access. However, there are a few key pieces of information outlined in the following sections that you should keep in mind when planning your trek.

Getting to and from the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Most walker’s will access the Coast Track from the town of Nelson, which sits on the other side of the Tasman Bay from Marahau and Abel Tasman National Park. There is frequent bus service connecting Nelson to Marahau (the traditional starting point for the Coast Track) with most services also stopping in Motueka en route. Some popular service providers include:

  • ScenicNZ: Offers a daily bus connection between Nelson and Marahau via Motueka.
  • Trek Express: This tramper focused provider offers transport to/from the Coast Track and Nelson.

Depending on your chosen itinerary you’re likely to finish your walk in either Wainui or Totaranui. While Wainui is the official end point of the Coast Track, transportation options are limited. As a result, it is more common for trampers to finish their walk by taking looping back to Totaranui via the Gibbs Hill Track. Your best options for getting back to Marahau from each potential finishing points are below:

Getting from Wainui to Marahau
Trek Express operates the most reliable service between the end of the Coast Track in Wainui and Marahau. Expect on the journey taking approximately 1.5 hours. In addition, Golden Bay Coachlines operates a bus service between Wainui and Nelson, with a stop at the car park in Marahau.

Getting from Totaranui to Marahau
Most trekkers opt to finish their walk in Totaranui where you’ll have many more transport options back to the start of the track available. One of the big appeals of finishing here is that you’ll be taking a water taxi back to the Marahau, a fantastic way to cap off your time in Abel Tasman National Park! Your best bets for water taxis from Totaranui to Marahau are below:

  • Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi: A reliable and popular operator, they offer a multitude of transport options.
  • Marahau Water Taxis: This service provides efficient transportation back to Marahau and also has options to connect you back to Nelson via bus.

Water taxis in Bark Bay

Water taxis are plentiful along the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

 

Where to leave your car when walking the Coast Track

If you’ve driven your own car or campervan to Abel Tasman you’ll want to know where to park it. Luckily, the Department of Conservation provides free overnight parking at three locations along the Coast Track: Marahau, Totaranui, and Wainui. The car parks are not covered, but at least give you an easy place to leave your vehicle. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to camp overnight at any of the three car parks!

Transportation on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Many walkers on the Coast Track will opt to only walk a specific section of the Coast Track (more on that below!) and may need transport from other points along the route. If this is the case you find yourself in, your best bet will almost certainly be to take a water taxi back to Marahau. All of the water taxi providers listed above will be happy to accommodate and will pick you up from any of the following access points:

  • Apple Tree Bay
  • Anchorage
  • Medlands Bay
  • Bark Bay
  • Tonga Quarry
  • Onetahuti
  • Awaroa
  • Totaranui

It is important to note that no motorized boat traffic is allowed past Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park. This is to maintain the natural state of the northern section of the park, so you’ll want to be sure you take that into account when planning your walk.

Kayakers in Abel Tasman National Park

There is no motorized traffic allowed past Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park.

 

Accommodation on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Coast Walk is well served by a network of Department of Conservation huts and campsites. These huts and campsites make it easy for walkers to plan a variety of itineraries and provide excellent accommodation options. In addition to the Department of Conservation options there are also a few private accommodation options along the track that give the weary walker options other than pitching their tent or settling for a noisy bunk room. Keep reading below to see what sleeping quarters await you on the Coast Track.

Department of Conservation Huts & Campsites

The Department of Conservation provides a network of 19 campsites and 4 huts along the Coast Track. The four huts along the walk are evenly spaced to make for an easy five-day itinerary for those who don’t want to sleep in their tent. These huts are located at Anchorage, Bark Bay, Awaroa Bay, and Whariwharangi. Each of the huts also has a campsite adjacent to it, so campers can also enjoy the simplicity of stopping at these locations.

In addition to the four campsites located next to the DoC huts along the Coast Track there are 15 other sites scattered along the Coast Track. Many of these won’t make sense for trampers given their location, but several provide a great alternative for those who prefer a quieter campsite. We describe your best options in the itinerary section below.

Abel Tasman Coast Track Huts
As mentioned above, the DoC provides huts at Anchorage, Bark Bary, Awaroa Bay, and Whariwharangi. All of these huts are quite basic and provide a common room, sleeping quarters with basic mattresses, potable water, and bathrooms. You’ll need to bring cooking supplies and a camp stove as none of the huts feature cooking facilities, a sleeping bag, and a headlamp as many of the huts do not have lighting.

The huts must all be reserved in advance and have varying rates depending on the time of year and whether or not you are a Kiwi or international tourist.

You can book your Abel Tasman Coast Track Huts here. 

Abel Tasman Coast Track Campsites
There is a network of 19 DoC campsites along the Coast Track. All of the campsites along the route provide toilets and potable water, while some of the larger ones provide a cooking shelter, picnic tables, and seating areas. It is important to note that if camping outside one of the four huts along the route you are not allowed to use the hut facilities. You’ll need to bring all of your own camping equipment, including a stove and cooking supplies, as none of the campsites are equipped with stoves.

You also are not allowed to use a hammock at any of the campsites in Abel Tasman National Park, so be sure you’ve packed your tent, bivvy, or other sleep system.

As with the huts along the route you are required to reserve your all of your campsites along the Coast Track in advance. The fee for these campsites varies depending on the time of year and depending on if you are a local New Zealander or not.

You can book your Abel Tasman Coast Track Campsites here. 

 

Tent at Anapai Bay Campsite.

Camping mere steps from the beach at Anapai Bay along the Coast Track.

 

Private Accommodation

In addition to the Department of Conservation huts and campsites along the route there are also a handful of private accommodation providers along the Coast Track. If you’re looking for something unique (see Aquapackers), a little more luxurious (check out the Awaroa Lodge), or something with a bed and breakfast feel (the Meadowbank Homestead) the following options will surely meet your needs!

Aquapackers
The Aquapackers Hostel is a truly unique accommodation in Abel Tasman National Park. This floating hostel is anchored in Anchorage Bay has dorm beds as well as private cabins. Your room rate includes dinner, breakfast, and bedding for your stay. The vibe is typically a younger crowd, although they do try to keep noise to a minimum.

Torrent Bay Lodge
The Torrent Bay Lodge offers luxurious digs just past Anchorage along the Coast Track. Unfortunately for trampers, they require a minimum two-night stay during peak season. Alternatively you can book a package Coast Walk experience that will have you staying at their other lodge along the route.

Awaroa Lodge
The Awaroa Lodge is located just up the trail from the main DoC hut and campsite at the Awaroa Inlet. This is the most luxurious option along the Coast Track and makes the perfect place to treat yourself to a night of luxury along the Coast Track.

Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa
Similar to the Torrent Bay Lodge, the Meadowbank Homestead is geared toward those in search of a bit more luxury. During high season you’ll have to book a package stay that includes a night at the Torrent Bay Lodge.

 

Stage-by-stage Itinerary for the Abel Tasman Coast Track

We recommend hiking the Coast Track over 3 – 5 days depending on your hiking ability, pace preferences, and weather conditions. The classic itinerary described below takes five days to complete and will be the best option for the majority of hikers.

 

Stage 1: Marahau to Anchorage

Distance & Elevation: 11.7 km // +737 m, -728 m
Where to stay: 
Anchorage Hut & Campsite // Te Pukatea Campsite
Description:
The Abel Tasman Coast Track begins from the car park outside of Marahau and crosses a tidal estuary via a well-built wooden walkway. From here the track climbs gently and begins to open up to stunning views of the sea beyond. There are frequent side tracks down to the water if you fancy a dip at this early stage.

At approximately 7 km into the walk the track will turn inland and climb along the hillside. Near the top of the hill you’ll be presented with diverging trails. The trail on the right will lead you down to the Anchorage Hut and Campsite while the trail on the left continues on the Coast Track for those who are walking a bit further on their first day.

The Anchorage Hut can accommodate up to 34 people and has a large campsite adjacent. For those who are camping and would like a bit quieter accommodation we recommend continuing on a bit further past Anchorage to the Te Pukatea campsite.

Stage 1 of the Coast Track from Marahau to Anchorage

Stage One of the Coast Track from Marahau to Anchorage.

 

Tidal estuary near Marahau

The Coast Track starts by crossing a tidal estuary just outside of Marahau.

 

Stage 2: Anchorage to Bark Bay

Distance & Elevation: 11.2 km // +657 m, -660 m
Where to stay:
Bark Bay Hut & Campsite
Description:

From Anchorage Bay you’ll quickly reach Torrent Bay where you’ll have two options. The first option is to take the high-tide route which circumnavigates the bay and is passable at all times. A short detour off the high-tide route is Cleopatra’s Pool, a perfect swimming hole on a hot day!

The second option is to take the low-tide alternate (shown on the map below), which crosses directly across Torrent Bay. This route is only passable within 2 hours before and after low-tide, so it is best to plan on taking the high-tide route.

Once past Torrent Bay the track turns inland and gently climbs the coastal hillside. You’ll soon reach the Falls River and cross a long swing bridge over the river. Swing bridges are a staple of New Zealand tramping, so be sure to take in the view! From the swing bridge the trail returns to the coast and winds its way to the Bark Bay Hut & Campsite. The campsite at Bark Bay is located to the right, just off the main trail.

Stage Two - Anchorage to Bark Bay

Stage Two of the Coast Track from Anchorage to Bark Bay.

 

The Falls River Swing Bridge

Crossing the Falls River Swing Bridge on the way to Bark Bay.

 

Stage 3: Bark Bay to Awaroa Bay

Distance & Elevation: 12.2 km // +634 m, -635 m
Where to stay:
Awaroa Hut & Campsite // Awaroa Lodge
Description:

From Bark Bay you’ll begin your walk to Awaroa Bay by either crossing the tidal estuary at low-tide, or taking the high-tide track around the bay. The high-tide track only adds 10 minutes to your walk, so no need to plan in advance. From here the Coast Track once again turns inland as you make your way to the former Tonga Quarry. Continuing along the coast you’ll reach Onetahuti Beach, which the Coast Track walks along for nearly 1 km!

From the end of the beach you’ll climb through the bush before descending to Awaroa Bay. Here you’ll find the Department of Conservation run Awaroa Bay Hut & Campsite as well as the adjacent Awaroa Lodge. The Lodge is a great place to spend the night if you’re in search of a bit more luxury that what the DoC huts have on offer!

Remember that you cannot cross the Awaroa Inlet outside of 1.5 hours before and 2 hours after low-tide. If you plan to walk further on this day you need to consult the tide schedules to be sure it will be possible.

Stage 3 on the Coast Track from Bark Bay to Awaroa.

Stage 3 on the Coast Track from Bark Bay to Awaroa.

 

Boat on the Awaroa Inlet

You’ll have to wait until low-tide to cross the Awaroa Inlet.

 

Stage 4: Awaroa Bay to Whariwharangi

Distance & Elevation: 17.3 km // +805 m, -801 m
Where to stay:
Whariwharangi Hut & Campsite // Anapai Beach Campsite
Description:

After crossing the Awaroa Inlet to begin Stage 4 of the Abel Tasman Coast Track the route cuts across a forested headland before heading back to the coast. The trail continues on hugging the shoreline along Goat Bay before a short, but steep climb brings you to a viewpoint with spectacular views of Totaranui Beach. Heading down from the lookout you’ll eventually reach Totaranui with its huge campsite and busy dock. Many walkers opt to finish at this point and grab a water taxi back to Marahau. If you want to spend the night at Totaranui keep in mind that there is no hut here, so you’ll need to camp.

For those continuing on you’ll follow the road through the Totaranui complex before turning right, walking past a parking area, and then picking up the main trail again as it heads into the bush. You’ll climb up and over another headland before arriving at the Anapai Beach Campsite. This is a great option for those looking to camp near Totaranui, but prefer a quieter site. Located on a lovely beach, this is a great place to spend the night!

From Anapai Beach the track climbs steadily before descending down to Mutton Cove. From here the main Coast Track heads inland, although we highly recommend taking the alternative route to Separation Point, with its beautiful views of the sea beyond. The main Coast Track and Separation Point track meet again at a high point and then descend to the Whariwharangi Hut & Campsite. This is the last hut along the Coast Track and a lovely place to spend you last evening.

Stage 4 on the Coast Track from Awaroa Bay to Whariwharangi.

Stage 4 on the Coast Track from Awaroa Bay to Whariwharangi.

 

View of Totaranui Beach.

Taking in views of Totaranui Beach on the Coast Track.

 

Stage 5: Whariwharangi to Totaranui (via Gibbs Hill Track)

Distance & Elevation: 9.8 km // +677 m, -679 m
Where to stay:
Totaranui or onward travel accommodation
Description:

The final stage of the Abel Tasman Coast Track presents walkers with two options. The first is to finish the walk on the traditional route by descending to the carpark at Wainui, just over 5 km from the Whariwharangi Hut. The problem with this option is that there is not frequent transportation from the end of the walk in Wainui, with only a few bus operators serving the car park and official end of the Coast Track. The second option, and what we recommend, is to take the Gibbs Hill Track back to Totaranui. This makes for a 10km walk from Whariwharangi, but you’ll have many more transportation options back to Marahau and Nelson from Totaranui. Plus, you’ll get to see a bit more of the mountainous interior of Abel Tasman National Park.

Regardless of your choice, you’ll begin by leaving the hut or campsite at Whariwharangi and climbing steadily up to the junction with the Gibbs Hill Track. For those heading to Wainui, it’s a short 3 km descent to the car park and finish of the Coast Track. For those continuing on to Totaranui, you’ll join the Gibbs Hill track as it ascends towards a high point at, you guessed it, Gibbs Hill. From here the track begins its descent to Totaranui and you’ll soon come to a junction where you’ll take a left. From this point it is approximately 4.5 km back to Totaranui.

Regardless of which option you choose you can celebrate in the fact that you’ve just completed the Abel Tasman Coast Walk! Get your transportation out of Abel Tasman sorted out and be sure to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with completed one of New Zealand’s Great Walks!

Stage 5 of the Coast Track from Whariwharangi to Totaranui or Wainui.

Stage 5 of the Coast Track from Whariwharangi to Totaranui or Wainui.

 

Taking the Gibbs Hill Track back to Totaranui will let you see a different side of Abel Tasman National Park.

 

Alternative Itineraries for the Coast Track

The five day itinerary described above can be broken into almost countless alternative itineraries for walking the Coast Track. If you’ve only got time for a few days, we suggest the following itineraries:

3-day Abel Tasman Coast Track
For those with only three days to spare in Abel Tasman we recommend starting with a big first day to from Marahau to Bark Bay. From Bark Bay you’ll head to Awaroa, where you’re likely to need to spend the night in order to time the tidal crossing correctly. On your final day, head along the coast to Totaranui to catch a water taxi back to the start.

  • Stage 1: Marahau to Bark Bay: 23 km
  • Stage 2: Bark Bay to Awaroa Bay: 12 km
  • Stage 3: Awaroa to Totaranui: 6.5 km

1-day Abel Tasman Coast Track
Even with a single day in Abel Tasman you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best parts of the walk. Our recommendation is to take a water taxi to Totaranui and then complete the northern portion of the walk by first hiking to Whariwharangi and then taking the Gibbs Hill Track back to Totaranui. This is the least crowded section of the trail and also has some of the most incredible views, including those from Separation Point.

Abel Tasman Coast Track: What to Pack

Packing for the Coast Track is a balancing act between ensuring you have everything you need while not over packing. In general, you should be able to get by with a 30L – 60L backpack and the following essentials:

Also, you won’t be able to buy any food along the trail. Thus, you’ll need to be sure you’ve packed all you’ll need for the entire walk. In general, we recommend backpacking staples such as ramen, freeze-dried backpacker meals, trail mix, and instant oatmeal. Be sure and think through each day of your walk when meal planning as you want to ensure you’ve brought enough food!

Abel Tasman Coast Track packing list

Campers will need to bring a bit more on the Coast Track.

 

Baggage Transfer on the Coast Track

Taken all of our packing advice above, but still have too much gear? No problem! All of the main water taxi operators will be more than happy to shuttle your packs from beach to beach along the Coast Track. However, remember that there are no water taxis allowed past Totaranui, so you’ll have to carry your own pack past there!

We recommend the following companies for baggage transfer on the Coast Track:

 

What’s Next?

If you’ve read our Complete Guide to the Abel Tasman Coast Track above, you’re well on your way to having an incredible experience on the hike. However, you still have lots of preparation before you’re truly ready! Be sure to read our entire series on the Coast Track to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip!

Beach in Abel Tasman, New Zealand

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The Complete Guide to Mt. of the Holy Cross

Mt. of the Holy Cross is one of Colorado’s most iconic mountains. Situated deep within the Sawatch mountain range it is renowned for its northeast face, which features two deep…

Mt. of the Holy Cross is one of Colorado’s most iconic mountains. Situated deep within the Sawatch mountain range it is renowned for its northeast face, which features two deep couloirs form a near-perfect cross when filled with snow. The peak barely meets fourteener status, with a summit elevation of 14,005′ above sea level. Located just outside the town of Minturn, Colorado and with multiple routes carrying Class 2 difficult rating according to 14ers.com, the mountain makes for a popular 14er to bag. Keep reading to learn everything you’ll need to know to have a great adventure climbing Mount of the Holy Cross!

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Mt. of the Holy Cross Elevation

The summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross sits at 14,005 feet above sea level. As with many mountains, you’ll see a variety of elevations given depending on the source. We chose to utilize the elevation shown on the USFS map below, which gives the official elevation as 14,005′. Regardless, you can count on the air being thin at the top!

The summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross sits at 14,005′. Map courtesy of USFS.

 

The summit is surrounded by several prominent 13,000′ peaks, including Notch Mountain located to the northeast.

 

Mt. of the Holy Cross trailheads

Mt. of the Holy Cross is accessed via the Half Moon Trailhead, which sits at the end of Tigiwon Road (sometimes spelled “Tigwon” and also known as Forest Service Road 707). For those hiking Mt. of the Holy Cross via the standard North Ridge Route you’ll take the Half Moon Trail which will be on your right-hand side when looking at the trailhead. Hikers attempting the Halo Ridge Route should take the Fall Creek Trail which leads to Notch Mountain and/or Lake Constantine in the adjacent drainage. Get directions to the trailhead below:

To reach the Half Moon Trailhead you’ll take I-70 to exit 171 towards Minturn. From the highway exit, it is a five-mile drive past the town of Minturn to Tigiwon Road, which you’ll take to reach the trailhead.

From Highway 24 you’ll want to keep an eye out for Tigiwon Road, which leads to the trailhead.

 

It is an approximate 8.3-mile drive up Tigiwon Road to the Half Moon Trailhead. The dirt road is rough in some places but can be driven in a passenger car with care. If possible, we recommend a 4WD, AWD, or vehicle with higher clearance to ensure you don’t have any issues reaching the trailhead.

Keep in mind that Tigiwon Road is closed to motor vehicles annually from May 1st – June 21st. This generally shouldn’t impact those looking to hike Mt. of the Holy Cross, as the trail is unlikely to be free from snow until later in the summer anyways.

At the end of Tigiwon Road there is a small parking area that serves the trailhead. On busy summer weekends, you can expect this parking area to be at capacity given the popularity of the trail. However, there is abundant overflow parking available along Tigiwon Road leading up to the trailhead. If you do have to park along the road be sure to leave enough space for other cars to pass!

If the Half Moon trailhead parking lot is full, there is overflow parking available along Tigiwon Road.

 

Hiking Mt. of the Holy Cross

There are several different routes all leading to the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross. For most hikers, your best bet is to take the North Ridge Route described below. This is the standard route up Mt. of the Holy Cross and by far the most popular. For those looking for alternative routes (with significantly more difficulty), you can also complete the Halo Ridge Route with its spectacular views of the cross couloir. 

Map of different routes to hike Mt. of the Holy Cross

The North Ridge Route and Halo Ridge Route are the most popular options for hiking Mt. of the Holy Cross. Map courtesy of USFS.

 

The North Ridge Route and the Halo Ridge Route up Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 

Mt. of the Holy Cross North Ridge Route

Distance: 10.46 miles (round-trip)
Elevation Gain/Loss:
+ 5,616 feet / -5,616 feet
Starting point:
Half Moon Trailhead

The North Ridge Route up Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 

The North Ridge Route is the standard and most popular route up Mt. of the Holy Cross. The route has a Class 2 difficulty according to 14ers.com, and most hikers will find the distance and elevation gain make this a very challenging hike. The route crosses Half Moon Pass (elevation 11,650′) within the first three miles before descending down again to East Cross Creek, at which point the ascent to the top of Mt. of the Holy Cross begins. This results in a staggering total elevation gain of over 5,600 feet. For this reason it is popular to split the climb into two days and spend a night camping at East Cross Creek.

Keep in mind that you won’t get any views of the Cross Couloir on the North Ridge Route. If that is important to you we recommend completing the Halo Ridge Route described below, or hiking adjacent Notch Mountain.

Mount of the Holy Cross from Half Moon Pass

Mount of the Holy Cross from Half Moon Pass.

 

Description:

From the Half Moon Trailhead, you’ll begin with a gentle ascent on the Half Moon Trail through pine forest towards the top of Half Moon Pass. The top of the pass is at treeline, so you’ll enjoy some beautiful views of the Gore Range behind you. As you begin the descent, Mt. of the Holy Cross will dominate the horizon – you’ll struggle to believe you’re climbing all the way to the top!

Views of the Gore Range from Half Moon Pass.

Views of the Gore Range from Half Moon Pass.

 

Approximately 3 miles into the hike, you’ll reach East Cross Creek where you’ll set up camp if you’re splitting the hike into two days. From here, the climb to the top of Mt. of the Holy Cross begins in earnest. After a steady ascent through the trees, you’ll eventually reach treeline and the beginning of Mt. of the Holy Cross’ north ridge. The terrain from here on out becomes much more rugged, so be sure to tread carefully. At this point, the trail also disappears and you’ll need to closely follow the large cairns as you make your way up. It is not especially difficult to stay on course, but be sure to exercise caution as you are walking very near to the ridgeline.

Sunrise on the North Ridge Route – Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 

As you reach the end of the ridge, the ‘trail’ will turn to the southeast as you make your final approach to the summit. The area is covered in large talus so you’ll find the large wooden posts that have been erected to be helpful for navigation. The last 500 feet or so are difficult hiking, but the route to the summit should be straightforward.

Finish your last bit of climbing and you’ll be standing on the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross!

Enjoy expansive views from the summit.

 

Mt. of the Holy Cross Halo Ridge Route

Distance: 15.2 miles (roundtrip, out-and-back) // 12.83 miles (descending via the North Ridge route)
Elevation Gain/Loss:
+ 4,658 feet / -4,658 feet (round-trip retracing the route)
Starting point:
Half Moon Trailhead

The Halo Ridge route to the top of Mt. of the Holy Cross adds another layer of difficulty to summitting this beautiful mountain. For this effort, hikers will be rewarded with stunning views of the Cross Couloir and the opportunity to visit the Notch Mountain Shelter, a truly beautiful structure. As with the North Ridge Route, this is a serious undertaking with between 13 – 15 miles of hiking depending on your chosen descent. It is advisable to start very early.

The Halo Ridge Route up Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 

Description:

The Halo Ridge Route begins at the Half Moon Trailhead where you’ll begin your hike along the Fall Creek Trail. It is important to note that this is not the same trail as those hiking via the standard North Ridge Route will take. The trail climbs gently through forest for the first 2.25 miles before coming to the junction with the Notch Mountain Shelter Trail.

From here, you’ll begin the ascent to the Notch Mountain Shelter via a steep, but well-maintained trail. The shelter sits at an elevation of 13,084 feet and was built in 1933 as a place to stay for those on a pilgrimage to see the famous Mt. of the Holy Cross. Unfortunately, you are no longer allowed to camp in the shelter. You can view the Forest Service information on the shelter here.

Take a moment at this point to soak in the incredible views of the Cross Couloir!

From the shelter, you’ll trace your way along the ridgeline towards the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross. Take great care on this section as the route is very exposed. You’ll first climb to Point 13,248, which will allow you to claim to have summited a 13er and a 14er all in the same day! From here you’ll set your sights on another 13er, Point 13,373, before reaching a flatter portion of the ridgeline.

Continuing on, you’ll ascend to the summit of the Holy Cross Ridge at 13,830 feet above sea level. From here, you’ll descend slightly before tackling the final climb to the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross!

We highly recommend reading the route description on 14ers.com for a more in-depth discussion on the Halo Ridge Route.

 

Mt. of the Holy Cross Camping

There are several options available for those looking to camp before, during, and after their hike of Mt. of the Holy Cross, all of which are described below. Be sure to check in with the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District prior to camping to check current regulations.

Camping near Mt of the Holy Cross

Camping options are abundant near Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 

Tigiwon Road Camping

The first option for camping near Mt. of the Holy Cross is to pitch your tent at one of the many dispersed campsites available along Tigiwon Road. These campsites are perfect for those who may arrive later in the evening and want to set up a base camp before setting out the next day. The campsites start a few miles along the road (be sure you are in the National Forest and not on private property) and continue most of the way up to the trailhead. The final 0.5 miles of Tigiwon Road does not allow camping, so be sure you’ve found a site before getting to the trailhead.

Campsite along Tigiwon Road.

Make sure you camp only at designated spots with a fire ring along Tigiwon Road.

 

You should only camp at designated campsites along the road, which will be indicated by the presence of a fire ring. Be sure and check local regulations before having a campfire, as this area of the state is often under fire restrictions. Also, keep in mind that there are no water sources available at the campsites along Tigiwon Road. It is very important to bring enough water not only for your camping needs, but also enough for your hike of Mt of the Holy Cross.

These campgrounds receive quite a bit of use, so we can’t stress enough how important it is to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping along Tigiwon Road. Be sure and leave your site in better shape than you found it!

 

Halfmoon Campground

The Halfmoon Campground is located adjacent to the trailhead at the top of Tigiwon Road. This is a formal campground operated by the Forest Service and features seven campsites, vault toilets, campfire rings with grates, and tables. The campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to get there early if you’re looking to snag a site. The fee is $15/night.

The campground is about as convenient as you can get for those who are looking to car camp the night before climbing Mt. of the Holy Cross, as you’ll wake up mere steps from the trailhead.

As with the campsites along Tigiwon Road, there is no drinking water available at the Halfmoon Campground, so be sure to bring all you’ll need.

Map of Halfmoon Campground near Mt. of the Holy Cross

Halfmoon Campground provides great access to Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 

East Cross Creek Camping

The backcountry campsites at East Cross Creek are utilized by those who are splitting their hike into two days. As described above, this allows hikers to avoid having to cross Half Moon Pass twice in a single day and spread out the elevation gain of the trek. We recommend anyone concerned about the length or difficulty of the North Ridge Route to overnight at East Cross Creek in order to make the hike more manageable.

The East Cross Creek campsites are located approximately 3 miles into the hike up Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 

East Cross Creek is reached by hiking approximately 3 miles in from the Half Moon trailhead and requires crossing Half Moon Pass. The area has 10 designated campsites that are all well-marked. If a campsite marker has a stone placed on top of it, it means the campsite is occupied. It is very likely that all 10 sites will be occupied on any given night. If this is the case, it is best to politely ask if you can share a site with one of the groups already there. Yes, this may mean getting cozy with a few fellow hikers, but it is a much better option than camping outside of the designated area. Given the popularity of Mt. of the Holy Cross it is important to minimize your impact as much as possible at East Cross Creek. 

Water can be taken from the creek, though do be sure to filter it before drinking. Also, there are no campfires allowed at any time at the campsites, so be sure to pack in stove fuel if you need it.

Map of campsites at East Cross Creek

There are 10 designated campsites at East Cross Creek.

 

Mt. of the Holy Cross Weather

As with all fourteeners, it is paramount to keep an eye on the weather when attempting to climb Mt. of the Holy Cross. Given the altitude, exposed nature of the hike, and significant length, we highly recommend starting very early in the morning to give yourself the best chance of avoiding afternoon thunderstorms.

mountain storm

Be prepared for storms to roll in at any time.

 

You can use the link here to get a sense of the weather forecast for Mt. of the Holy Cross. However, conditions can change at any time, so any forecast for a 14,000′ peak should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also advisable to check in with the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District to get current conditions.

Wrap-up & Resources

That’s it! We hope you found the information in this post useful for planning your Mt. of the Holy Cross adventure! As always, be sure to check out some of the helpful resources below for planning your hike:

Mount of the Holy Cross from Half Moon Pass

 

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The Complete Packing List for the Coast to Coast Walk

What does one bring for a self-powered journey across an entire country? One of the absolute best parts of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk is the ever-changing landscapes it traverses….

What does one bring for a self-powered journey across an entire country? One of the absolute best parts of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk is the ever-changing landscapes it traverses. That type of variety can make packing a little tricky, though. What you might need during a rainstorm in the Lakes District is quite different from what you’ll require on a sunny day in the Yorkshire Dales.

However, before you go packing a rucksack bigger than you are, remember the golden rule of backpacking: keep it as light as possible! Carrying minimal weight is one of the best things you can do to ensure you enjoy your trip to the fullest.

So how does one strike that elusive balance between having all of the necessities without feeling like they have a baby elephant on their back? Read on for our best advice and detailed kit lists to learn everything you need (and everything you don’t) to have your best possible Coast to Coast Walk!

In this post:

coast to coast packing basics
One of the many incredible landscapes you’ll encounter on your C2C Walk.

Packing Basics for the Coast to Coast Walk

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the Coast to Coast Walk, such as accommodation type, hiking style, trip length, baggage transfers, time of year, and many more. Every hiker will have a unique kit to best serve their individual needs. Even though you are a special, one-of-a-kind snowflake, there is some universal gear wisdom that applies to all Coast to Coast Walkers.

How Much Should My Pack Weigh?

This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…

  • How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
  • Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before? 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying indoors should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 20kg, and your daypack shouldn’t exceed 4kg. If you are backpacking for the first time or have a chronic injury, the weight of your pack should be significantly less than these guidelines.

Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for lightening your load:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Bring quick-dry items that you can rinse out in the sink or shower.
  2. Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
  3. Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.
Backpacking backpack
The type of pack you’ll need for the Coast to Coast will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the Coast to Coast

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Coast to Coast walk. Also similar to your boots, your pack needs to be broken in for optimal comfort. We recommend carrying a weighted pack on your training walks to get used to the extra weight and ensure it fits well.

If you plan on staying in B&B’s along the route, you won’t need a very large rucksack. A 25-liter pack should be enough to hold a few clothing items, food, water, and toiletries.

Those staying in dorms and bunkhouses will most likely need to carry a sleeping bag and towel. A 30-40L pack will be more than enough space for everything you need.

If you plan on camping, you’ll need a larger pack to fit your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment in addition to your basic supplies. A 45-60L pack will be suitable for most campers.

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a pack cover to protect against rain! Many newer packs come with one built-in.

Coast to Coast Walk hiking boots
Footwear on the Coast to Coast Walk comes down to personal preference and fit, but always break in new boots ahead of time!

Footwear on the Coast to Coast

Taking care of your feet is of the utmost important on a long-distance walk like the C2C. Blisters, chafing, and other ailments can completely sabotage your experience, and the Coast to Coast’s wide range of underfoot conditions and wet environments can increase your risk of issues. The right shoes and socks can make all the difference.

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Coast to Coast Walk, provided that they will work for your unique needs. The most important thing is that they’re adequately broken in and that you’ve tested them on multiple walks to ensure they are comfortable.

In terms of waterproofing, there are two opposing schools of thought about this. It is inevitable that your feet will get wet at multiple points along your walk, from driving rains, flooded paths, bogs, and so on. Many hikers prefer to use sturdy boots with a thick layer of waterproofing to keep the moisture out as much as possible. This is a good strategy, but keep in mind that when these heavier shoes get wet they can take a long time to dry. Other prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple hours and allow your feet to get some air in the meantime. It’s totally a matter of personal preference, but it’s a good idea to try a few options out prior to setting off on your C2C journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Coast to Coast. We love merino wool socks like these for their comfort, breathability, and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister-prone, consider trying toe sockssock liners, and/or body glide.

Rainy weather on Ennerdale Water in the Lakes District, Coast to Coast Walk
Moody weather is part of the Coast to Coast experience.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! You will undoubtedly face plenty of wet days on your Coast to Coast, so good waterproofs are an important investment.

At the very minimum, make sure you have a lightweight rain jacketrain pants, and a pack cover. Some hikers pack their clothing and other items inside trash bags or waterproof packing cubes as an extra precaution. A hat can be nice to keep the rain out of your face. A waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either. Finally, many walkers like to use gaiters for especially boggy or flooded areas.

Coast to Coast Walk personal gear

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your Coast to Coast Walk packing list. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this trek, we’ve left it up to you to determine your own list of additional self-care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc). 

Most Valuable Personal Item: Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack

The Coast to Coast Walk passes through some of the rainiest parts of England, so it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll do some wet walking at one point or another. Walking in a downpour? Kind of fun. Getting to your destination and not having dry clothes to change into? The worst. Even with a pack cover, sustained walking in drenching conditions can penetrate your bag. You’ll be glad you took the extra step to protect clothes, bedding, and electronics.


ItemOur recommended gear 
Multi-toolGerber Suspension Multi-PlierPerfect for cutting cheese and bread when you need some trail-side snacks!
First-aid kitAdventure Medical KitsA good backpacking first aid kit is essential. You hope to never have to use it, but will be glad you have it when you need it.
Hydration bladderPlatypus 3L Hydration BladderWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3 liter version.
Small day-packCotopaxi Luzon 18L DaypackOptional item that is great for walking around town.
Pack-coverSea to Summit Pack coverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the Coast to Coast Walk!
Men's backpackOsprey Atmos 65LWhile backpacks are a very personal item, we find Osprey to make by far the most comfortable packs on the market.
Women's backpackOsprey Aura 65LOne of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the 'anti-gravity' mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking polesBlack Diamond Trail Trekking PolesThese can help take the load off your knees and they're great on steep sections.
Travel towelSea to Summit Drylite TowelGreat to have in hostels and campsite showers.
HeadlampBlack Diamond Storm HeadlampGreat headlamp with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry bagsSea to Summit Ultra-Sil dry bagsKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour!
Hiking gaitersOutdoor Research Rocky Mountain High GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug sprayBen's Insect RepellentYou'll be glad you brought this when the midges come out.
Toilet paperAs any hiker will tell you, it's always better to be prepared! Plus, not all of the bathrooms you'll find along the C2C provide toilet paper.
Yorkshire Dales Coast to Coast Walk

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any Coast to Coast Walk packing list. From getting your stinky shirt clean to keeping your phone charged, these items help your trek run smoothly. Make sure to use this list in addition to the other categories to complete your Coast to Coast kit. 

Most valuable miscellaneous gear: Anker Powercore 10000.

Chances are, you’re getting out on the trail to get a break from the constant demands of screens and technology and that’s wonderful. However, don’t underestimate the importance of having a charged cell phone on the Coast to Coast Walk. Your phone can be your navigational device, your camera, your guidebook, and your notepad all in one. Charging opportunities can be unreliable along the route, so a battery backup can be an absolute lifesaver. This one is dependable, relatively small, and can fully charge your phone 1.5-2 times between charges. Check it out here:


ItemOur recommended gear 
GuidebookTrailblazer
or
Ciccerone
We think Trailblazer's guide is better overall, but the Ciccerone book is available as an eBook, handy for lightweight packing.
Ear plugsMack's EarplugsEssential for getting a good night's sleep!
Sleeping maskAlaska Bear Sleeping MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in hostels or campgrounds on the Coast to Coast Walk.
Travel adapterAll-in-one Travel AdapterGreat for all of your travels.
Digital watchCasio digital watchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times.
CameraSony a5100 mirrorless cameraIan loves his Sony mirrorless camera!
Battery backupAnker PowerCore 10000Great for charging electronics when you don't have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable soapSierra Dawn Campsuds Outdoor SoapPerfect for doing the dishes or washing a few clothing items.
Plastic Bags- quart, gallon, and garbage bags. We used these constantly for everything from storing trail mix to keeping our sleeping bags dry. A must-have for backpacking.
Coast to Coast Walk women's packing list

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for two weeks in various weather conditions and while doing some serious walking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Coast to Coast Walk. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring. This list is also a handy (and experience-backed)  guideline for quantities of items such as shirts and socks. 

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Columbia Storm Surge Rain Pants 

English weather is temperamental. You’ll get to experience a wide range of elements (rain, sun, wind, etc), often all in one day! For the times when the weather turns, you’ll want to be able to quickly and effortlessly adapt your clothing to stay dry and comfortable. These Columbia rain pants are simple, effective, comfortable, and easy to get on and off over boots. Check them out here:


ItemOur recommended gear 
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Women's UnderwearVery packable and easy to wash on the go!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports BraBrooks Women's Rebound Racer Sports BraThis is the most versatile, comfortable, and high-quality sports bra that Emily has found on the market.
Long sleeve base layer (1)Smartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 CrewA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings.
Short sleeve hiking shirt (3)Smartwool Women's Merino Short SleeveMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pantsprAna - Women's Halle Roll-upStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Running shorts (1 pair)Lululemon Run Speed ShortsThese shorts are so comfortable, packable, and quick-drying, that Emily didn't even feel the need to buy hiking-specific shorts.
Down jacketPatagonia Down SweaterLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Helium II JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain pantsColumbia Storm Surge pantsFor those heavy English downpours!
Hiking bootsKeen Targhee II Mid Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSuncloud Loveseat Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you're outside all day. And these are stylish too!
Basic black dressColumbia Women's PG Freezer III DressVery optional. For the nights we went out to dinner in town, it was nice to have one non-hiking outfit. This comfortable, versatile dress was easy to pack and worked great.
Underwire/standard braAfter a long day of hiking in a sweaty sports bra this can be a welcome relief to change into.
GlovesSmartwool Liner GlovesOptional. Perfect for cold evenings, but not necessary in the summertime.
HatHeadsweats Performance Trucker HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1Great to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaI used this for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Coast to Coast Walk Men's Clothing
Another perk of hiking socks-really cool tan lines!

Men’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for two weeks in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials.

Ian’s most valuable clothing item: Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks

The conditions on the Coast to Coast Walk are such that hikers are at a particularly high risk of getting blisters at some point on their walk. The wet environments, long mileage, and stony paths conspire to create the perfect environment for blisters to sabotage your walk. Fortunately, a good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chance of foot issues. This is one of those times where you really do get what you pay for. We love Darn Tough socks because they keep our feet dry and comfortable in a variety of conditions. They have just the right amount of cushion without being too bulky in boots. Plus, the Merino wool keeps them smelling fresh for days. Check them out here:


ItemOur recommended gear 
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long sleeve base layer (1)Smartwool Men's NTS Mid 250 CrewVery versatile mid-weight base layer
Short sleeve hiking shirt (1)SmartSmartwool Men's Merino Short Sleeve shirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking pants (1)Prana Brion pantsThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking shorts (1)Prana Brion Hiking ShortsAwesome shorts that are great for hiking.
Down jacketPatagonia Down Sweater HoodySuper warm and super packable
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Men's Helium II JacketA good rain jacket is a must for the Coast to Coast Walk!
GlovesSmartwool Merino Wool Liner Gloves Optional. Perfect for cold evenings, but not essential in the summer.
Rain pantsMarmot Precip PantsFor those heavy English downpours!
HatHeadsweats Performance Trucker HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1 sandalsSuper comfortable to change into after walking in boots all day!
Hiking bootsSalomon Men's X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking BootVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSuncloud Mayor Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you're in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Coast to Coast Walk Camping Gear

Camping Gear

Camping on the Coast to Coast Walk is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. We loved the flexibility and independence it gave us. Plus, campgrounds along the trail are plentiful, convenient, and generally quite comfortable. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Coast to Coast Walk with your own tent.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

Many people choose to camp along the Coast to Coast Walk because of the tremendous money they can save on their accommodation. The budgetary benefits go beyond your sleeping arrangements, though. Camping allows you to self-cater your meals, saving you from spending tons on overpriced pub food every day. This MSR Kit is super lightweight, easy to pack, and convenient for all of those al fresco dinners and trailside coffee breaks.


ItemOur recommended gear 
TentSierra Designs - Clip Flashlight 2
or
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
The Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 is the best budget tent on the market, while the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 is the best overall tent you can buy.
Sleeping bagMarmot Trestle 30A 30° F or 0° C sleeping bag should keep you plenty warm on the Coast to Coast.
Sleeping padNemo Astro Insulated Sleeping PadIf you are a side sleeper this is a must! Even if you're not, this is one of the most lightweight and comfortable sleeping pads out there.
PillowTherm-a-Rest pillowIf you're camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
StoveMSR Pocket Rocket StoveIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking potGSI Halulite
UtensilsHumangear Spork Best $4 you will ever spend!
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-person mess kitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
Black Sail Hostel Coast to Coast Walk
The delightfully cozy Black Sail Hostel.

Hostel/Bunkhouse Gear

If you are sticking strictly to hotels, B&B’s, and guesthouses, you shouldn’t need to worry about the items on this list. However, for those staying in communal/dorm-style accommodations, there are some essential items you need to pack. Keep in mind that most hostels provide bedding, but you should check with individual places in advance to be sure. On the other hand, you will be responsible for providing your own towel (although some places will rent you one for an additional fee).

Most valuable item for bunkhouses & hostels: Mac’s Ear Plugs

Hiking is infinitely less fun when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. There are many wonderful hostels along the Coast to Coast Walk, but Olympic-level snorers and other noisy neighbors seem to hang out in all of them. These earplugs do an excellent job of blocking out sleep-sabotaging sounds. We find that they work better, stay in longer, and are more comfortable than those cheap foam earplugs.


ItemOur recommended gear 
EarplugsMack's EarplugsThe perfect defense for that snorer next door!
Sleeping maskAlaska Bear Sleeping MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
Sleep sheetVumos Sleep SheetA nice item to have for nights in bunkhouses and hostels.
Travel towelSea to Summit Drylite TowelMany hostels and bunkhouses on the Coast to Coast do not provide towels.
Sandals/SlippersCrocsWhile not the most stylish, Crocs make the perfect bunkhouse/hostel shoes!

What’s Next?

Check out our other great Coast to Coast Walk Resources:

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The Ultimate Guide to the Coast to Coast Walk

Back in 1973, a legendary man named Alfred Wainwright devised a new walking route across Northern England, from the Irish Sea to the North Sea and through three incredible national…

Back in 1973, a legendary man named Alfred Wainwright devised a new walking route across Northern England, from the Irish Sea to the North Sea and through three incredible national parks along the way. The walk was popularized by his detailed book, A Coast to Coast Walk, and even became the star of its own TV series. Decades later, the Coast to Coast (C2C) Walk continues to inspire walkers from all over the world, with its varied scenery, natural beauty, and cultural experiences.

The Coast to Coast walk remains an unofficial trail, though it makes good use of the U.K.’s plentiful access paths and public rights of way. In many ways, the fact that the C2C doesn’t have National Trail status actually adds to its appeal. It has an eclectic and grassroots kind of feel to it, and it’s clear that both hikers and locals feel a real sense of responsibility for the well being of this special trail.

In this post:

Looking out over a tarn and green hills in England's Lakes District on the Coast to Coast Walk
A beautiful sunny day in the Lakes District.

Why Walk the Coast to Coast?

How often do you get the chance to walk across an entire country? And, better yet, without having to quit your job or spend several months on the road? Traversing the nearly 200 miles between the western and eastern coasts of England is profoundly rewarding. It is incredible to watch the landscape change from the dramatic mountains of the Lakes District, to the rolling pastures of the Yorkshire Dales, to the agricultural heartland in the center of the country, and finally through the bleak and stunning North York Moors before reaching the sea at the picturesque bluffs near Robin Hood’s Bay.

Perhaps even more wonderful than the incredible landscapes are the people and communities you’ll encounter along the way. The Coast to Coast Walk is undoubtedly an amazing outdoor adventure, but it is also a rich cultural experience and a rewarding personal journey.

A trail sign on the Coast to Coast Walk shows the distances to St. Bees and Robin Hood's Bay
A trail sign on the Coast to Coast reminds walkers of the incredible distances they’ve covered!

How Long is the Coast to Coast Walk?

Official Distance: 192 miles (309 kilometers)

Elevation Gain: 29,000 feet (8,850 meters)

The Coast to Coast walk is purported to be 192 miles from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. While this is certainly a close estimate, we measured (via GPS) the Coast to Coast to be 186 miles long for those who stick to the traditional route. For those on the metric system that’s a whopping 300 km!

Of course, measuring the exact distance of the Coast to Coast has little practical value, as walkers will certainly end up walking further than the specific measured distance. The taking of alternate routes, detours, and the occasional jaunt off the trail to visit the local pub will assuredly make the distance actually walked vary from person to person.

How long does it take to walk the Coast to Coast?

Wainwright originally broke his route into twelve stages, each ending in a place with overnight accommodation. However, most of today’s guidebooks break up the walk into a more reasonable thirteen stages, which averages out to about fourteen miles per day. Even a thirteen-day itinerary will be quite challenging for many walkers. Towards the end of this guide, we’ve provided 17-day, 14-day, and 12-day itineraries to give you a sense of the possibilities.

Generally speaking, allow yourself about two weeks to complete the Coast to Coast Walk. Some walkers may want to move at a more relaxed pace and/or build some rest days into their itineraries. Others may want to push themselves to cover great distances each day. Remember, you don’t have to do the whole route in one go. Many walkers are happy to cover just a segment, based on their individual schedules and preferences.

  • Fast pace: 11-13 days
  • Moderate pace: 13-16 days
  • Relaxed pace: 16-19 days
Rainy weather on Ennerdale Water in the Lakes District, Coast to Coast Walk
Moody weather is part of the Coast to Coast experience.

When is the best time to walk the Coast to Coast?

There are some hearty souls who attempt the Coast to Coast during England’s dark, cold, wet winter months, but most mere mortals will enjoy it much more in the summer season. Due to the fact that you’ll be traversing a variety of landscapes and climates, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter a wide range of weather conditions any time you walk.

Generally speaking, here’s what you can expect in each month of the hiking season:

April: Cool temps, moderate rainfall, and sparse crowds make this an attractive month to hike. Be aware of the shorter days, which allow for fewer daylight hours on the trail.

May & June: The weather tends to be a bit milder and more settled than in April and the days are longer, but it’s still pretty quiet on the trail. These are great months to walk to C2C.

July/August: School holidays and warm weather mean that these are the busiest months on the Coast to Coast. July and August (August in particular) tend to be wetter than May and June, but you can also get some brilliant sunny days, too.

September: With few crowds, mild temperatures, and relatively less rainfall, September is a wonderful time to be on the trail.

October: The days begin to get shorter, colder, and wetter as you enter October. You may get some incredibly clear and crisp autumn days, but you’ll also need to be prepared for harsh conditions.

Rainbow in Yorkshire Dales on the Coast to Coast Walk
Magical moments occur year-round on the Coast to Coast Walk.

Which Direction to Walk the Coast to Coast?

Wainwright devised the original Coast to Coast route to be traversed from west to east, but it can easily be walked in either direction.

West to East

Begin with the stunning Lakes District and tackle the most challenging terrain with fresh legs. Traditionalists will appreciate following in Wainwright’s footsteps, and the prevailing winds are likely to be at your back. This is the more popular direction to walk so you’ll make friends with the other hikers you encounter again and again.

East to West

Meet new hikers each day and shake up tradition. This direction allows you to save the dramatic Lakes section for the grand finale, and also approach it with the enhanced fitness you’ve built along the walk. International travelers will enjoy the easier connection to Manchester upon finishing.

Rainbow in Yorkshire Dales on the Coast to Coast Walk
Whichever way you choose to walk, St. Bees head makes for a dramatic start or finish to your adventure!

How Difficult is the Coast to Coast Walk?

Let’s start by saying this: any long-distance hike that requires two weeks’ of nonstop walking is going to be challenging. The cumulative stress on your body adds up after several consecutive long days on the trail. When it comes to a thru-hike like the Coast to Coast, it is definitely important to respect the distance.

That all accounted for, compared to many of its counterparts, the C2C is quite approachable.

The most physically strenuous sections of the trail are found in the Lakes District. In these stages you’ll find the biggest elevation changes and steepest climbs.

In the middle section of the walk, you’ll have some days where you’ll need to cover great distances (often 15-20 miles in a single day). These stages mostly entail flat, easy walking, but they require endurance and the repetitive motion can be hard on the body.

It’s important to take into account the mental challenges of a long-distance walk, as well. There are some very long stretches of road walking through uninteresting farmland that seem to go on forever. These can often feel harder than summiting a mountain! However, finding a strong headspace and pushing through our mind’s own limitations is the very reason many of us love with hiking in the first place. These challenges are the very best!

Road walking in the North York Moors Coast to Coast Walk
Long stretches like this one can challenge both the mind and body.

Finally, England’s temperamental weather can add a significant level of challenge to your trek. From relentless rain, to gale-force winds, to blazing sunshine, the elements will certainly add another layer of difficulty to your walk at some point or another.

Conclusion: With the proper preparation, any reasonably fit hiker can complete the Coast to Coast Walk. This is not a super-technical mountaineering endeavor reserved for only the hiking elite. Families, older adults, and less experienced walkers can certainly find enjoyment and success on the C2C. The trail rarely ventures too far from civilization, allowing for plenty of shortcut opportunities and easy logistics. Just remember to train in advance, take time to prepare your route, logistics, and kit, and, of course, respect the distance.

Weather

As we mentioned in the When to Go section, you’ll encounter a wide range of weather conditions throughout your walk (see that section for a month-by-month weather breakdown, too). One thing is nearly certain: it’s going to rain at some point along your walk. Be sure to pack some good waterproofs so you can enjoy England’s wet climate to the fullest!

Don’t be fooled by the relatively low elevation profiles on this walk; the conditions can quickly change in the mountains and hills. This can be dangerous if you’re not prepared (especially in the Lakes District where you’ll be on exposed peaks and ridgelines). If there are very high winds, torrential rains, or thunderstorms predicted, you should not attempt to hike.

The Met Office has an excellent app and website for forecasting England’s ever-changing elements. Make sure to pay special attention to the “Hazards” section, as this gives a useful rating of any potential inclement weather in the forecast. The Met Office allows you to search locations by postal code, interactive map, town name, or landmark. This is important, as weather events can be quite localized, so try to search as close to where you’ll be hiking as possible.

Cloudy skies in the Lakes District on the Coast to Coast Walk
The weather can change quickly in the mountains and fells.

Accommodation

Walkers of every style and budget will find plenty of excellent lodging options along the Coast to Coast. In fact, the unique and friendly accommodations are a highlight of many C2C walkers’ experiences. The available options vary greatly from place to place, but we’ve outlined all of the types of accommodation you’ll encounter along the Coast to Coast Walk.

For a complete accommodation directory, be sure to check out our Coast to Coast Accommodation Guide!

B&B’s and Guesthouses

These are what the Coast to Coast is all about. With their warm hospitality, incredible full English breakfasts, and cozy decor, independently-run guesthouses are at the heart of the C2C experience. Expect to pay about £65 per person in a double room.

Our favorite Coast to Coast B&B’s

Castle House, Richmond: Richmond is a charming town located roughly halfway along the C2C, making it an ideal place for a rest day. If you want to take your relaxation to the next level, don’t miss staying at the Castle House! Everything is top-notch here, from the well-appointed rooms to the sumptuous breakfast spread.

Fernleigh B&B, Robin Hood’s Bay: With the friendliest owners, thoughtful touches everywhere, a peaceful location, and luxurious amenities, this is the perfect place to treat yourself upon finishing your C2C walk.

Full English Breakfast at a B&B on the Coast to Coast walk
If you choose to stay at B&B’s, expect to eat like a king!

Hotels

While certainly less plentiful than B&B’s, there are a fair number of hotels located along the Coast to Coast route, mostly in larger towns. These hotels are not of the big, chain variety, but rather smaller, independently-owned establishments. They vary quite a bit in terms of price and quality, but most are very well-appointed and include amenities such as wifi, tea/coffee, and often breakfast. A double room will typically cost you about £100 a night.

Our favorite Coast to Coast Hotels

Scafell Hotel, Borrowdale: This hotel mixes the classic charm of a historic countryhouse with the modern luxuries of recently renovated guestrooms. Plus, there’s a fabulous free breakfast.

Burgoyne Hotel, Reeth: Hungry hikers always rave about the delicious meals at the Burgoyne (breakfast is included). Beyond the food, the rooms are quite comfortable and hotel’s setting is convenient and beautiful.

Coast to Coast Walk hotel accommodation
Hotels along the Coast to Coast tend to be smaller, independent, and quite charming.

Bunkhouses and Hostels

Bunkhouses and hostels provide an excellent budget option for those who are not keen on camping. There are several hostels run by the YHA along the route, and these are particularly good. Facilities vary widely across the many bunkhouses and hostels along the C2C, but generally you can expect dorm-style accommodations with shared bathrooms (sometimes mixed gender). Many places provide communal kitchens and lounge areas, drying rooms, wifi, and meals for purchase. Most bunkhouses and hostels require you to bring your own sleeping bag and towel. The average dorm bed in a bunkhouse or hostel costs about £40 a night.

Our Favorite Bunkhouses and Hostels

YHA Patterdale: With a beautiful kitchen and lounge area, spotless facilities, and piping hot showers, this is undoubtedly one of the best hostels along the Coast to Coast.

YHA Grasmere: We can’t speak highly enough about the YHA hostels, and their Grasmere hostel is a prime example of why we love them. Set in a perfect location and housed in a charming historic building, a night at the YHA Grasmere feels more like staying at friend’s mansion than at a hostel. It’s more expensive than other options in the area, but the great facilities make it a good value.

Black Sail Hostel Coast to Coast Walk
The delightfully cozy Black Sail Hostel.

Camping

Camping on the Coast to Coast is a budget-friendly option that allows for maximum flexibility and freedom on your walk. Wild camping is not permitted anywhere in Northern England, although it is possible to pitch your tent in a low-profile way in a few places along the route, particularly in the Lakes District. For those who prefer official campgrounds, there are numerous camping options located throughout the Coast to Coast Walk. These range from luxurious holiday parks to basic pub gardens, but most campgrounds provide toilets, showers, and electronics charging. Prices vary widely, but expect to average around £10 per person to camp in an organized campground.

Our favorite Coast to Coast Camping

Orchard Caravan and Camping Park, Reeth: Set in a tranquil location within a few minutes’ walk to town, this campground has thoughtful touches, excellent facilities, and plenty of flat, grassy pitches.

Intake Farm B&B, Littlebeck: Instead of stopping in Grosmont, campers should push on further to this gem in Littlebeck. The friendly B&B owners welcome campers in their lovely garden and allow them access to the shower and toilet inside the main house. Complimentary tea, cake, and chit chat is served upon arrival, and meals can be purchased on request.

Don’t forget to check out this post for a comprehensive list of C2C accommodation!

Camping on the Coast to Coast Walk
Camping provides great value and maximum flexibility.

Food & Drink

Delicious food and drink are plentiful along the Coast to Coast, making your adventure as much a culinary delight as an outdoor endeavor. If you plan on staying mostly in guesthouses and B&B’s along the route, expect to fill up on lavish breakfast spreads each morning. Many of these accommodations will also provide packed lunches for an additional fee. Dinner is served at the many guesthouses, inns, and pubs located at frequent intervals along the route, although many require that you book your meal a few hours in advance. These meals are generally hearty and delicious, but you’ll pay handsomely for the convenience.

Those on a tighter budget can self-cater quite easily along the Coast to Coast Walk. There are grocery stores and shops at several points along the route, allowing you to resupply frequently and carry less weight in your pack. Many hostels have communal kitchens where walkers can prepare meals, but campers should bring their own stove and cookware.

Honestly boxes stocked with candy bars, snacks, and soda can be found in a few places along the route. These can be the most wonderful surprise pick-me-up on a long day of walking!

Regardless of your approach to food and drink on the Coast to Coast, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Always plan ahead to ensure you have enough food with you at all times. Look to see where the next restaurant or shop is located, and prepare accordingly. Carry an extra meal and some snacks to have in case your plans change.
  • Don’t miss out on some of the best gastronomic experiences the Coast to Coast has to offer. Be sure to enjoy a real ale in a cozy pub, a cup of tea on a wet afternoon, and a full English breakfast at least once along your route.
Food and drink on the Coast to Coast Walk
Everything tastes more delicious after a long day of walking!

Water

You can fill up on clean drinking water at most pubs and guesthouses along the route. It’s a good idea to carry 1-3 liters with you each day, depending on the weather and total mileage. Unless you’re certain you’ll be able to refill along the way, fill up for the entire day before setting off in the morning. Do not drink from rivers, streams, or other sources without filtering first.

Drinking Water on the Coast to Coast Walk
It may be tempting, but don’t drink from streams without filtering first!

Getting to and from the Walk

The Coast to Coast Walk is bookended by St. Bees on the western coast of England and Robin Hood’s Bay on the eastern coast. Both towns are accessible via public transport. Most international travelers will fly into Manchester as that is the nearest major airport to St. Bees, the traditional start of the walk.

Getting from Manchester to St.Bees

It’s quite easy to travel by train from Manchester to St. Bees, as there’s a railway station in the center of St. Bees that receives several trains each day (except Sundays). The journey from Manchester Piccadilly Station to St.Bees takes 3-4 hours and requires 1-2 transfers depending on the booking. Tickets can be purchased at Manchester Piccadilly or in advance through TransPennine Express.

Depending on how far in advance you purchase your ticket, time of year, and time of day, one-way ticket prices range from £20-£60.

Getting from Robin Hood’s Bay to Manchester

Getting between Manchester and Robin Hood’s Bay is a little less straightforward.

The cheapest option is to travel by bus. Arriva runs a service from Robin Hood’s Bay to Middlesbrough. From there you can take another coach service to Manchester (Megabus and National Express both offer service). The entire journey takes 5-8 hours and costs about £30.

If you want to travel by train, you’ll first need to get a railway station in one of the nearby towns that have stations, either Whitby or Scarborough. It’s possible to take an Arriva bus from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby or Scarborough. TransPennine Express operates a rail line that runs from Whitby and Scarborough to Manchester. The entire journey takes about 4-6 hours and costs about £60.

Manchester Piccadilly Station Coast to Coast Walk transportation
Many walkers will connect through Manchester’s Piccadilly Station to get to and from the Coast to Coast.

Maps and Guidebooks

Given that the Coast to Coast is not a National Trail in the UK, you won’t find the usual trail signs giving clear directions at every turn. Rather, the Coast to Coast is often very poorly marked and can be difficult to navigate on. For that reason we highly recommend that every walker have some sort of map (digital or paper, preferably both) that they bring with them on their Coast to Coast trek.

Maps

When we walked Wainwright’s Coast to Coast we did not use paper maps, other than those included in our guidebook. Instead, we utilized downloadable GPS maps on our phones to ensure we knew where the trail was as well as where our next stop was. Given that cell phone service can be spotty along the route, especially in the Lakes District, it is critical to have a good offline mapping app, such as Gaia GPS, to ensure you’ll be able to access your location.

If you’re interested in utilizing this method of navigating, you can learn more in our Coast to Coast Maps and Routes post.

Even with the convenience of GPS navigation, we still recommend carrying a paper map or map booklet for the Coast to Coast. This will provide a bit of insurance should that trusty phone of yours get dropped in a puddle or soaked in one of the many downpours you’ll surely encounter.

Given the long distance of the Coast to Coast walk we highly recommend bringing a compact map booklet that contains the entire route. We like the version created by Cicerone, which contains Ordnance Survey maps (Ordinance Survey is the UK’s national mapping service) for the entire Coast to Coast route at 1:25,000 scale. You can purchase that map booklet here.

If you’d prefer to carry full-size Ordnance Survey maps for the entire Coast to Coast, you can find the entire set here.

If you do plan to carry paper maps, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Navigating on the Coast to Coast Walk
A map is an essential piece of gear for the Coast to Coast Walk!

Guidebooks

Both Cicerone and Trailblazer make excellent guides for the Coast to Coast Walk. Both are filled with tons of great content, from local history to practical information and insider tips. We highly recommend bringing either along on your walk, as it will make your journey smoother and your experience richer.

The Trailblazer book is the best overall guide in terms of its organization, in-depth trail narratives, and accommodation/logistics information.

Ciccerone’s guide is slightly less user-friendly and a little lacking in on-trail information, but it offers an Ebook version (Trailblazer does not). This is a great option for those trying to keep their packs as light as possible!

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the guide that started it all: Wainwrights original book, A Coast to Coast Walk. This one is less useful as a guidebook, but still a wonderful source of inspiration chock full of incredible illustrations and colorful anecdotes.

Shap Abbey, Coast to Coast Walk
Shap Abbey. Bringing along a guidebook will ensure that you appreciate sights like this one to the fullest.

Budgeting and Money

The UK is expensive. It’s easy to spend a fortune on your Coast to Coast Walk. If you want to stay in plush B&B’s, eat most meals in restaurants and pubs, and treat yourself to modern conveniences (such as baggage transfers), you’re going to need deep pockets.

However, it is absolutely possible to walk the Coast to Coast on a small budget, and still have a great time doing so. Self-catering most meals and camping along the route are the two best ways to save money on the C2C.

Here’s a very general breakdown of various expenses on the Coast to Coast:

  • B&B/Guesthouse/Hotel: £75 (per person/per night)
  • Bunkhouse/Hostel: £40 (per person/per night)
  • Camping: £10 (per person/per night)
  • Meal at pub/restaurant: £15-£20
  • Pint of beer: £4-£5
  • Cup of tea/coffee: £3
  • Regional transport: £50
  • Local transport: £3-£10
  • Baggage Transfer: £10 (per bag/per day)

Money

Credit cards are accepted at many shops, restaurants, and accommodations along the Coast to Coast. That being said, plenty of smaller places (such as some guesthouses, campgrounds, and cafes) still require cash. As it may be many miles before you reach the next ATM, it’s always a good idea to carry enough cash to cover your expenses for a few days.

You’ll also need cash or a contactless card for most local buses, so keep that in mind if you plan on taking any shortcuts or detours.

Coast to Coast Walk budgeting
At least the million dollar views on the Coast to Coast don’t have to cost a fortune (just a bit of physical effort)!

What to Pack for the Coast to Coast Walk

Regardless of fitness level or hiking style, there is one golden rule that rings true for all walkers: the lighter your pack the better off you’ll be. It can be tempting to carry a lot with you on your C2C trek- you’re walking across an entire country after all! In reality though, it’s what you don’t pack that will help you the most on your journey.

To be clear, we’re not suggesting you need to be an extreme minimalist, but simply that you put some thought into what goes in your rucksack. That’s where we can help! Read on for our very best, tried-and-true packing advice.

For a full kit list, check out this post!

Footwear on the Coast to Coast

Taking care of your feet is of the utmost important on a long-distance walk like the C2C. Blisters, chafing, and other ailments can completely sabotage your experience, and the Coast to Coast’s wide range of underfoot conditions and wet environments can increase your risk of issues. The right shoes and socks can make all the difference.

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Coast to Coast Walk, provided that they will work for your unique needs. The most important thing is that they’re adequately broken in and that you’ve tested them on multiple walks to ensure they are comfortable.

In terms of waterproofing, there are two opposing schools of thought about this. It is inevitable that your feet will get wet at multiple points along your walk, from driving rains, flooded paths, bogs, and so on. Many hikers prefer to use sturdy boots with a thick layer of waterproofing to keep the moisture out as much as possible. This is a good strategy, but keep in mind that when these heavier shoes get wet they can take a long time to dry. Other prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple hours and allow your feet to get some air in the meantime. It’s totally a matter of personal preference, but it’s a good idea to try a few options out prior to setting off on your C2C journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Coast to Coast. We love merino wool socks like these for their comfort, breathability, and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister-prone, consider trying toe socks, sock liners, and/or body glide.

Coast to Coast footwear
Good footwear and rain pants are necessities for the Coast to Coast Walk!

Don’t forget to check out our Complete Coast to Coast Packing List for a detailed kit list and expert advice!

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! You will undoubtedly face plenty of wet days on your Coast to Coast, so good waterproofs are an important investment.

At the very minimum, make sure you have a lightweight rain jacket, rain pants, and a pack cover. Some hikers pack their clothing and other items inside trash bags or waterproof packing cubes as an extra precaution. A hat can be nice to keep the rain out of your face. A waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either. Finally, many walkers like to use gaiters for especially boggy or flooded areas.

Coast to Coast packing list waterproof gear
Glad to have our waterproofs and pack covers!

Choosing a backpack for the Coast to Coast

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Coast to Coast walk. Also similar to your boots, your pack needs to be broken in for optimal comfort. We recommend carrying a weighted pack on your training walks to get used to the extra weight and ensure it fits well.

If you plan on staying in B&B’s along the route, you won’t need a very large rucksack. A 25-liter pack should be enough to hold a few clothing items, food, water, and toiletries.

Those staying in dorms and bunkhouses will most likely need to carry a sleeping bag and towel. A 30-40L pack will be more than enough space for everything you need.

If you plan on camping, you’ll need a larger pack to fit your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment in addition to your basic supplies. A 45-60L pack will be suitable for most campers.

How to Train for the Coast to Coast Walk

The Coast to Coast walk is not extremely strenuous relative to most long-distance hikes, but it is still very important to get in shape before attempting it. You will have a much more enjoyable experience if you are not dragging your miserable, exhausted body to the end of the trail each day!

Endurance

The best thing to do to prepare your body for two weeks of daily long walks is to build your endurance base. Ideally, you should aim to hike, walk, or do another moderately-paced cardio-building activity (like jogging, rowing, cycling, or swimming) 3-4 times per week for at least three months leading up to your trip. Even 20-30 minutes of walking is helpful, although you should try to get in at least one longer effort (1-4 hours) every week or two.

Strength

It’s also a good idea to incorporate some strength training to prevent injuries and imbalances as you increase the time spent on your feet. Core exercises are important for stability and will help you manage the weight of your pack. You should also aim to regularly complete a variety of leg exercises to prepare for the demands of the trail.

Mental

Finally, don’t forget to train your mind for long hours of walking! Being mentally strong is critical for those seemingly endless stretches or unexpected challenges that arise on a long-distance trek. Positive mantras, favorite daydreams, and simple mind games can all be helpful when you’re struggling mentally.

Coast to Coast Walk Difficulty
The greater the challenge, the sweeter the reward.

Itineraries and Stage Descriptions

There are limitless ways to walk the Coast to Coast. Some people do just a segment at a time, others spend weeks meandering across the entire route, and others fastpack it in much less time. It’s up to you to determine your perfect itinerary, keeping in mind your time-frame, fitness, and travel style.

As a starting point, we’ve provided a detailed guide for a classic, 14-day itinerary. We’ve also provided basic 12-day and 17-day itineraries. All itineraries follow the traditional west-to-east direction, but could easily be reversed.

Little Beck Wood, Stage Fourteen Coast to Coast Walk UK
The final stage of the walk meanders through the gorgeous Little Beck Wood.

Classic 14-Day Itinerary

Stage 1: St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge

Distance/Elevation: 14.04 mi // +2,542 ft, -2,214 ft

Where to Stay: Thorntrees B&B

Begin your walk by completing two very important Coast to Coast rites of passage. Head down to the water’s edge to dip your boots in the Irish Sea and pick up a pebble. You’ll dunk your boots in the North Sea and deposit your pebble upon finishing in Robin Hood’s Bay. Once you’ve savored these great traditions, follow the trail atop ruggedly beautiful seaside clifs as it makes its way out of St. Bees. Once you turn inland, it’s mostly flat walking past farmland and through a couple of quaint villages. There’s a final climb over Dent Fell (and phenomenal views) before a few more easy miles to Ennerdale Bridge.

Stage One of the Coast to Coast Walk from St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge.
Stage One of the Coast to Coast Walk from St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge.

Stage 2: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite

Distance/Elevation: 14.71 mi // +2,320 ft, -2,385 ft

Where to Stay: Hazel Bank Country House

Stage Two is arguably one of the most beautiful of the entire walk, and certainly showcases the best of the Lakes District. Begin on a rugged path that traces the length of Ennerdale Water before winding your way up to the remote Black Sail Hostel. The hostel is as cozy and charming as can be, set against a stunningly wild backdrop. Pop in for a cup of tea before tackling the steep ascent to Honister Pass. Finish with a picturesque descent into Rosthwaite.

Stage two of the Coast to Coast Walk from Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite.
Stage two of the Coast to Coast Walk from Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite.

Stage 3: Rosthwaite to Grasmere

Distance/Elevation: 7.23 mi // +1,987 ft, -1,992 ft

Where to Stay: Beck Allan’s Guest House

Enjoy more incredible Lakeland beauty on this stage, which starts with wild landscapes and rugged trails. There is one section that requires mild scrambling as you make your way up to Lining Crag. Cross the vast, boggy Greenup Edge before choosing between the more straightforward main route down or the dramatic variant over Helm Crag. A delightful evening in Grasmere is the perfect reward for your efforts.

Stage three of the Coast to Coast Walk from Rosthwaite to Grasmere.
Stage three of the Coast to Coast Walk from Rosthwaite to Grasmere.

Stage 4: Grasmere to Patterdale

Distance/Elevation: 7.53 mi // +1,948 ft, -1,739 ft

Where to Stay: Old Water View Hotel

This stage begins on a gently climbing path that leads walkers through attractive farmland before entering more untamed hillsides. As you ascend towards Grisedale Hause (the high point of this stage), incredible vistas open up first behind you and later in front of you. Follow a rocky, rugged path for a bit before the trail becomes gentler as you approach Patterdale. Be sure to stop in at the atmospheric White Lion Pub in Patterdale to commemorate your final night in the Lakes District.

Stage four of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grasmere to Patterdale.
Stage four of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grasmere to Patterdale.
Patterdale Coast to Coast Walk
The charming village of Patterdale.

Stage 5: Patterdale to Shap

Distance/Elevation: 15.25 mi // +3,291 ft, -2,955 ft

Where to Stay: New Ing Lodge

One of the best parts of the Coast to Coast Walk is the way it allows walkers to witness the changing landscapes that make up the diverse patchwork of Northern English terrain. Stage Five is one of the best examples of this. The first section is marked by a challenging final climb to Kidsty Pike, the highest point of the entire walk. From there, you’ll leave the mountainous Lakeland behind as you descend to Haweswater. It’s a tedious but scenic walk as you trace the length of the lake. When you finally leave Haweswater, a new landscape of rolling hills and pastures opens up before you. Take a short detour to explore the historic Shap Abbey before resting up in the small village of Shap after a long day on your feet.

Stage five of the Coast to Coast Walk from Patterdale to Shap.
Stage five of the Coast to Coast Walk from Patterdale to Shap.
Shap Coast to Coast Walk Stage Five
Beautiful pastoral scenery awaits as you near the village of Shap.

Stage 6: Shap to Kirkby Stephen

Distance/Elevation: 19.3 mi // +1,714 ft, -1,977 ft

Where to Stay: Fletcher House

Stage Six covers quite a bit of distance, but those weary of the Lakeland climbs will find some relief. Alternate between colorful moors and tidy farmland, all while marveling at the wide-open spaces. The sky feels boundless and the green stretches on forever. You’ll learn to use new muscles as you navigate the many stiles that you’ll cross as you pass through farmland. End the day in the well-appointed town of Kirkby Stephen, which offers many shops, restaurants, and other services.

Stage six of the Coast to Coast Walk from Shap to Kirkby Stephen.
Stage six of the Coast to Coast Walk from Shap to Kirkby Stephen.

Stage 7: Kirkby Stephen to Keld

Distance/Elevation: 11.54 mi // +1,910 ft, -1,431 ft

Where to Stay: Frith Lodge

If you brought along your gaiters and waterproof boots, today is the day to use them! Stage Seven packs plenty of excitement (and a good deal of challenge) into a relatively short distance. Start the day with a climb to the legendary and mysterious Nine Standards Rigg, which marks the watershed of Britain. From there, the bog-hopping begins! Pay close attention to the color-coded routes, as the appropriate route varies by time of year to prevent excessive erosion and environmental impacts. After a wet and wild traverse of the bogs, descend to a stream set in a picturesque valley. An undulating and scenic path (with a bit of road walking) carries you to Keld.

Stage seven of the Coast to Coast Walk from Kirkby Stephen to Keld.
Stage seven of the Coast to Coast Walk from Kirkby Stephen to Keld.
Nine Standards Rigg Stage 7 Coast to Coast Walk
Nine Standards Rigg.

Stage 8: Keld to Reeth

Distance/Elevation: 10.66 mi // +1,818 ft, -2,200 ft

Where to Stay: The Burgoyne Hotel

There are two route options between Keld and Reeth and both are splendid. The high-level route takes walkers on a rugged climb to bleak moorland scattered with fascinating old mining remains. This is the more challenging option, both in terms of physical exertion and also because poor waymarking makes navigation quite difficult. The low-level route ambles alongside the River Swale for much of the way, providing delightful glimpses of waterfalls, wildflowers, pastures, and forests. This stage showcases some of the best of the Yorkshire Dales.

Stage eight of the Coast to Coast Walk from Keld to Reeth.
Stage eight of the Coast to Coast Walk from Keld to Reeth.

Stage 9: Reeth to Richmond

Distance/Elevation: 10.36 mi // +1,360 ft, -1,576 ft

Where to Stay: The Castle House B&B

Stage Nine is characterized by mellow walking through rolling pastures and farmlands. There is a good bit of road walking on this stage, but the numerous points of interest more than make up for it. At the beginning of the walk, you’ll pass the remains of the 12th century Marrick Priory (worth a short detour), in the middle section you’ll pass through the lovely village of Marske along with its 12th century church, and you’ll end the day by meandering through the peaceful woods of Applegarth farms. Richmond makes a delightful and well-located place for a rest day.

Stage nine of the Coast to Coast Walk from Reeth to Richmond.
Stage nine of the Coast to Coast Walk from Reeth to Richmond.
Richmond Coast to Coast Walk
Exploring Richmond is a perfect rest day activity.

Stage 10: Richmond to Danby Wiske

Distance/Elevation: 13.36 mi // +427 ft, -750 ft

Where to Stay: The White Swan

Begin the day by following an idyllic path along the River Swale. Eventually, you’ll bid the river farewell and begin a long trek through endless farm fields. It certainly feels like you’ve made it into England’s heartland at this point in the walk. There’s quite a bit of road walking on Stage Ten, but many trekkers will welcome the easier change of pace. Be sure to check out the beautiful Norman church while in Danby Wiske.

Stage ten of the Coast to Coast Walk from Richmond to Danby Wiske.
Stage ten of the Coast to Coast Walk from Richmond to Danby Wiske.

Stage 11: Danby Wiske to Osmotherley

Distance/Elevation: 10.29 mi // +829 ft, -253 ft

Where to Stay: Vane House

Stage Eleven is yet again filled with flat, easy, pastoral walking. Savor the relaxed pace as you enjoy your final stage in this middle portion of the walk before tackling the North York Moors. There’s plenty of road walking, although history buffs will appreciate that part of it is on an ancient Roman road. Pause for a moment at Ingleby Cross, the official boundary of the North York Moors National Park and the final fifty miles of your adventure.

Stage 11 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Danby Wiske to Osmotherley.
Stage 11 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Danby Wiske to Osmotherley.

Stage 12: Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge

Distance/Elevation: 18.47 mi // +3,106 ft, -2,506 ft

Where to Stay: The Lion Inn

The first half of Stage Twelve largely uphill as you make your way through the scenic Cleveland Hills and eventually to the high point at Urra Moor. The incline is a refreshing change of pace after days of flat walking, as are the expansive views as you gain elevation. Once atop Urra Moor, take in the seas of heather (which turn a beautiful purple in late summer and fall) for miles and miles. There are virtually no services between Osmotherley and Blakey Ridge, but most accommodation providers in the area will pick up and drop off hikers at various points along the way as needed to break up this long stretch.

Stage 12 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn).
Stage 12 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn).
North York Moors Stage 12 Coast to Coast Walk
Beautiful purple heather in the North York Moors.

Stage 13: Blakey Ridge to Grosmont

Distance/Elevation: 13.17 mi // +504 ft, -1,693 ft

Where to Stay: Grosmont House

There’s a long, bleak stretch of road walking through the moors at the beginning of this stage, interrupted only by the infamous “Fat Betty.” Betty is actually one of many centuries old moorland crosses that can be found in the area, but she is unique in that she’s become an informal trading post of sorts for hikers to leave and take food and gear as they near the eastern terminus of the walk. Once the monotony of the road is behind you, you’ll be rewarded by a gorgeous traverse over high moors as you descend towards Glaisdale. Once out of the Moors, follow peaceful lanes into the charming village of Grosmont. Be sure to check out the authentic steam trains while you’re there.

Stage 13 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn) to Grosmont.
Stage 13 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn) to Grosmont.

Stage 14: Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay

Distance/Elevation: 14.99 mi // +2,115 ft, -2,197 ft

Where to Stay: Fernleigh B&B

This final marvelous stage of the Coast to Coast seems to give you a little taste of everything you’ve encountered on your journey thus far: woodlands, moors, bogs, farms, seaside cliffs, villages, and maybe even a variety of weather elements if you’re lucky! After a stunning traverse of the coastal bluffs, you’ll wind your way down through the incredibly quaint village of Robin Hood’s Bay. Mark the end of your journey by dipping your boots and depositing your pebbles in the North Sea. The Bay Hotel, conveniently located at the water’s edge, is the traditional spot for a celebratory pint and the place to add your name to the C2C logbook.

Stage 14 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay.
Stage 14 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay.
Robin Hood's Bay Coast to Coast Walk
Robin Hood’s Bay.

Fast-Paced 12-Day Itinerary

This option is best for experienced walkers who have limited time to complete the C2C. To traverse the entire route in just twelve days will require you to cover significant distances each day. If you are short on time but not physically and mentally prepared for such long days of walking, you can always do just a section of the walk instead of attempting to complete the entire thing.

StageStartFinishDistance (miles)Elevation Gain (feet)Elevation Loss (feet)
1St.BeesEnnerdale Bridge14.04+2,542-2,214
2Ennerdale BridgeRosthwaite14.71+2,320-2,385
3RosthwaitePatterdale14.77+3,744-3,538
4PatterdaleShap15.25+3,291-2,955
5ShapKirkby Stephen19.3+1,714-1,977
6Kirkby StephenKeld11.54+1,910-1,431
7KeldReeth10.66+1,818-2,200
8ReethRichmond10.36+1,360-1,576
9RichmondIngleby Arncliffe21.98+702-866
10Ingleby ArncliffeClay Bank Top11.62+2,755-2,162
11Clay Bank TopGlaisdale17.51+1,142-1,493
12GlaisdaleRobin Hood's Bay19.2+2,186-2,686
Yorkshire Dales Coast to Coast Walk
An idyllic scene in the Yorkshire Dales.

Relaxed-Pace 17-Day Itinerary

If you’ve got the time, it’s worth considering this 17-day itinerary. With daily distances averaging a little over ten miles each day, this itinerary is approachable for a wide range of ability levels while still allowing you to achieve rewarding feats. Even better, incorporate a rest day or two into your itinerary to really savor the experience to the fullest.

StageStartFinishDistance (miles)Elevation Gain (feet)Elevation Loss (feet)
1St. BeesEnnerdale Bridge14.04+2,542-2,214
2Ennerdale BridgeBlack Sail Hostel9.05+1,269-676
3Black Sail HostelRosthwaite5.66+1,217-1,875
4RosthwaiteGrasmere7.23+1,987-1,992
5GrasmerePatterdale7.53+1,948-1,739
6PatteraleShap15.25+3,291-2,955
7ShapOrton6.84+827-702
8OrtonKirkby Stephen12.45+977-1,365
9Kirkby StephenKeld11.54+1,910-1,431
10KeldReeth10.66+1,818-2,200
11ReethRichmond10.36+1,360-1,576
12RichmondBolton-on-Swale7.08+302-574
13Bolton-on-SwaleIngleby Cross15.14+497-424
14Ingleby CrossClay Bank Top11.37+2,788-2,159
15Clay Bank TopLion Inn (Blakey Ridge)8.55+924-503
16Lion InnGrosmont13.17+504-1,693
17GrosmontRobin Hood's Bay14.99+2,115-2,197
Dipping Boots in the North Sea at the end of the Coast to Coast Walk.
Dipping our boots in the North Sea to celebrate the end of the journey!

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to push your physical limits, explore world-class cultural sites, or just enjoy the simplicity of long walks in beautiful places, the Coast to Coast Walk definitely won’t disappoint. With a variety of transportation connections and itinerary options, you can truly make the experience your own. Wishing you a memorable and rewarding C2C adventure!

What’s Next?

Check out our other great Coast to Coast Walk Resources:

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