Walker’s Haute Route Packing List

If you’re planning to trek the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (or the other way around) and have been utilizing our Guide to Camping on the Haute Route,…

If you’re planning to trek the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (or the other way around) and have been utilizing our Guide to Camping on the Haute Route, you’re well on your way to having your best possible adventure. By now, you’ve likely realized that the Haute Route is a tough hike that requires thoughtful preparation and efficient packing. So how do you make sure you’ve got everything you need without carrying a backpack that’s as big as you are?  Our Walker’s Haute Route Packing List is here to help!

Hiker with trekking poles on stage 12 of the Walker's Haute Route

All smiles (and grateful for my trekking poles) on our final day of the WHR!

 

Below you’ll find a detailed Walker’s Haute Route packing list that will provide you with great, trail-tested gear that won’t weigh down your backpack too much. This list reflects our personal packing list which will vary for each individual’s specific needs. However, this should serve as a great starting point for planning your own Walker’s Haute Route adventure! We’ve organized it into the following categories to make it easy to customize for your own travel style and itinerary:

Everything you need to to plan your Haute Route trek – all in one place.

Whether you prefer mountain huts or tents, fastpacking or meandering, luxury, dirtbag or something in between, we’ve got you covered.

From custom itineraries and GPS maps created specifically for you we can help you plan your perfect Walker’s Haute Route adventure!

Our downloadable Guide to the Walker’s Haute Route is ultimate resource to help you plan your perfect trip.

Walker's Haute Route

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Our 50+ page downloadable guide has everything you need to know to plan your Walker’s Haute Route adventure. From three unique itineraries with custom GPS data to a full training plan, our guide is the quintessential handbook for trekking this incredible trail. Each section provides in-depth information and resources, including:

  • Stage-by-stage itineraries
  • Detailed maps for every stop
  • Complete 11-day, 13-day, and 14-day Haute Route itineraries
  • Custom GPS data for the entire route & all three itineraries
  • Offline map access for the entire route
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the Haute Route
  • The ultimate packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

Get your digital guide today and start planning!

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Haute Route Packing Basics

There are limitless ways to hike the Haute Route; you can customize the length of your trek, your accommodation preferences, your meal options, and so much more. Your Walker’s Haute Route packing list will need to be tailored to your individual itinerary and needs. Someone who is using a luggage transfer service and staying in refuges will have a significantly different kit than someone who is carrying all of their own camping gear and cooking their own meals. Despite all of this variability, there are a few basic truths about packing for the Haute Route that apply to everyone. These include:

  1. Keep your backpack as light as possible! (see the next section for more on this)
  2. Bring shoes/boots that you know from experience will be comfortable and problem-free.
  3. Bring hiking poles and learn how to use them prior to your WHR trek.
A trail in the foreground with snowy mountains and the Mattertal valley in the distance on the Walker's Haute Route.

Don’t forget to bring some sort of camera (or smartphone) to capture amazing views like these!

 

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? 
A hiker climbs a ladder up to Pas des Chevres on the Walker's Haute Route

You’ll be glad to have a lightweight pack on sections like this one at Pas des Chevres!

 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying in refuges should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 18kg, 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. Before you write us off as total dirtbags, hear us out. First, you’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry. Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
  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.

Footwear on the Walker’s Haute Route

Traditional hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners will all work for the trail conditions on the Haute Route, but you need to make sure they will work for you too. This means that you should bring a pair of boots or shoes that you know from experience don’t cause problems for your feet. Ideally, you should put at least 30 miles on them in various terrain and weather conditions to reduce the chance of running into issues on the trail. A nasty blister can be catastrophic on a multi-day trek like the Haute Route! That being said, you also don’t want your boots/shoes to be too broken in, as you need them to hold up faithfully for many miles of gnarly terrain. I know we’re asking you to work some Goldilocks magic here, but it’s definitely worth it!

A woman stands on a log that juts into turquoise water. Footwear on the Walker's Haute Route.

Your trusty boots are one of the most important pieces of gear!

 

In terms of other specifications, we feel that the only other must-have is a good, grippy vibrum (or similar material) sole for steep descents and loose paths. Otherwise it’s up to personal preference when it comes to how much ankle support you need, waterproof versus quick-dry, sturdy versus lightweight, and so on.

You’ll probably need to cross some snow at some points along your hike. Gaiters and waterproof boots can be helpful for these situations, but certainly aren’t essential.

You’ll also want to make sure you have some good socks. Socks are one of those rare things in life where you really do get what you pay for, and high quality socks can be a game changer. Once again, try to do some hiking in a few different types to figure out how what you like in terms of thickness, cushion, and height. We love merino wool for its quick-drying and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister prone, consider trying sock liners. Many hikers swear by them. Other tried-and-true blister prevention tactics include putting bodyglide on potential hotspots or wearing toesocks.

Trekking Poles

We’ve completed a lot of tough treks all over the world, but the Walker’s Haute Route was the toughest on our knees. There are long steep ascents, and even longer and steeper descents on nearly every stage of this roughly two-week hike. I honestly don’t think we would have been able to complete this trek without our trusty trekking poles. These help so much with taking some of the strain off of your lower body and providing traction and stability on loose sections. We consider trekking poles to be an absolute game-changer for the Walker’s Haute Route, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads.

A trekker seen from behind heads towards snow capped mountains on the Walker's Haute Route

Charging up the trail thanks to my trekking poles and comfortable backpack!

 

Backpack

The same rule for shoes applies to backpacks: make sure you complete several hikes with your bag packed the same way (and same weight) you’ll carry on the Haute Route. Also similar to shoes, backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. If you’re purchasing a new one, most good outdoors stores have experienced staff that will help you find the right fit and style for your needs.

Don’t forget to bring a pack cover (included with many newer backpacks) to protect against rain. This is an absolute must-have.

Battery Backup

If you plan on using your phone as a GPS to navigate along the Walker’s Haute Route (which we highly recommend!), it’s imperative that it stays charged. Many campgrounds will allow you to charge electronics, but this isn’t a guarantee everywhere. Carrying a small battery backup or one of these nifty portable solar panels will give you a little more freedom and peace of mind. In our Camping Guide, we’ve noted the availability of electronics charging along every stage.

Cooking on a camp stove outside Cabane du Moiry

We were glad to have our cozy jackets when cooking dinner outdoors!

 

Puffy down jacket

We’ve found this to be a perfect piece of gear for the Walker’s Haute Route. It can be quite chilly in the Alps in the early morning and evenings, but a heavy fleece or bulky jacket can really sabotage a lightweight pack. Down jackets are warm, super packable, and very lightweight. Besides a light waterproof rain jacket, this is the only outer layer you should need.

Guidebook

Ciccerone’s Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route by far the best guidebook out there for the Haute Route. This thorough guide covers everything from the history of the hike to interesting sights you’ll see along the way, and of course provides a comprehensive breakdown of every stage. It offers helpful advice on how to tailor the length of the trek to work for your time parameters, as well as descriptions of optional variants and side-trips. It is also available as an e-book, meaning you can download it to your phone to really optimize your packing! Make sure to get the 2019 version for the most up-to-date information.

Camping Gear

If you plan on camping along the Walker’s Haute Route, there’s a lot more gear you need to think about than just your hiking basics. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered!

Use this camping gear list in conjunction with the personal items list, miscellaneous list, and men’s or women’s clothing list to put together your perfect Walker’s Haute Route packing list.

Camping on the Walker’s Haute Route is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. We loved the flexibility and independence it gave us, and many of the campgrounds are downright luxurious. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Haute Route with your own tent.

A sign attached to a tree points towards a camping area on the Walker's Haute Route

Take shortcuts to get to your campground, but not when it comes to your gear!

 

Our favorite piece of camping gear: Marmot Trestles 15 Sleeping Bag

When the sun goes down, it can get very cold in the Alps, even in the summertime! Spending night after night shivering in your tent will surely make your Haute Route adventure much less enjoyable. This sleeping bag is designed for backpacking, meaning it is lightweight and packs down small, while still being cozy and warm. It is thoughtfully designed; we love the practical features like the double zippers and convenient stash pocket. Sure it’s not as fancy as a down version, but it’s the best synthetic option on the market and way more affordable than down.


ItemOur recommended gear 
TentSierra Designs - Clip Flashlight 2
or
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
This is the best budget tent on the market and the best overall tent on the market!
Sleeping bagMarmot Trestle 15Nights can get cold on the Haute Route, so a good sleeping bag is a must!
Sleeping padNemo Astro Sleeping Pad If you are a side sleeper this is a must!
PillowTherm-a-Rest pillowIf you're camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
HeadlampBlack Diamond Storm headlamp
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 Deep Dish plate , MSR Stainless Steel mug

Refuge-Specific Gear

If you’re planning on sleeping in mountain refuges and hotels along the Walker’s Haute Route, you can enjoy the benefit of a shorter packing list! This list has a few items you’ll need specifically for sleeping in gites and refuges. While you don’t need much, there are some essentials that you’ll be glad to have for these communal accommodation situations. Use this list in conjunction with the other lists (except for the camping gear list) to ensure that you’re well prepared for your Haute Route adventure.

Note: there are some repeats on this list that we’ve also included on the other lists. However, we wanted to highlight items on this list that are especially important for anyone who is staying primarily in refuges.

A view of the outside of Cabane du Mont Fort on the Walker's Haute Route

Cabane du Mont Fort.

 

Our favorite piece of refuge-specific gear: Vumos Sleep Sheet

Many mountain refuges along the Walker’s Haute Route require the use of sleep sheets for hygienic reasons. Even if it’s not mandated, a sleep sheet is a good idea. The bedding at most refuges consists of just a mattress cover and a duvet that isn’t typically washed between every use. Plus, it can get quite warm at night in those crowded dorm rooms, and you may prefer something lighter than the blanket provided. The Vumos sleep sheet is great for a number of reasons. It’s super soft, thoughtfully-designed, and easily packable in a compact stuff sack. This can be a huge difference-maker when it comes to getting quality sleep on your trek.


ItemOur recommended gear 
EarplugsMack's EarplugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Sleeping maskAlaska Bear Sleeping MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in refuges.
Sleep sheetVumos Sleep SheetRequired in most of the refuges along the Haute Route.
Sandals/SlippersCrocsWhile not the most stylish, Crocs make the perfect refuge shoes! Most refuges provide slippers, but many hikers prefer to use their own.

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for the Walker’s Haute Route. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this hike, we’ve left it up to you to determine your personal list of additional self care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc).

Use this list in conjunction with the camping gear list OR refuge list, and the miscellaneous and clothing lists to build your perfect kit.

Our favorite personal gear: Kahtoola Microspikes

Depending on when you hike the Walker’s Haute Route, these will either be absolutely essential or at the very least super helpful. It is very common for large patches of snow remain on the trail through mid-July or later. Some of these sections are easy to navigate with just your hiking boots, but others are extremely steep and slick. This can create a slow, tiring situation at best and a dangerous one at worst. These Microspikes can be quickly attached to your shoes or boots, and they provide immensely better traction to help you grip icy and snowy surfaces. They are small and easily pack away when you don’t need them.


ItemOur recommended gear 
Multi-toolGerber Suspension Multi-PlierA handy, must-have on the trail.
First-aid kitAdventure Medical Kits
Hydration BladderPlatypus 3 Liter Hydration BladderWay easier than a water bottle!
Small day-packCotopaxi Luzon 18LGreat for short day hikes and excursions in Chamonix or Zermatt!
Pack-coverSea to Summit Pack coverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how much it can rain on the Haute Route!
Men's backpackOsprey Atmos 65The most comfortable backpack on the market!
Women's backpackOsprey Ariel 65
Trekking polesBlack Diamond Trail Back Trekking polesEssential for long downhills!
Micro-spikesKahtoola MicrospikesYou'll almost certainly encounter snow at some point on the Haute Route and micro-spikes can be essential to safely navigating it.
Travel towelSea to Summit DryLite TowelGreat to have for campsite showers.
Dry bagsSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry SackKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour!
Hiking GaitersOutdoor Research Rocky Mountain High GaitersThese will help keep your boots dry when walking on snow covered trails.
Warm, waterproof glovesSeirus Waterproof Gloves
Buff or BandanaOriginal Buff
Sleeping MaskAlaska Bear Sleeping Mask
Blister padsBand-Aid Blister Pads
Lip BalmJack Black Lip Balm

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heros of the Walker’s Haute Route 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 personal Haute Route packing list.

Our favorite miscellaneous gear: Mack’s Earplugs

Whether you are camping or sleeping indoors, we can almost guarantee there will be some noisy nights on your Haute Route trek. From people inexplicably setting up camp at 11:00pm to international snoring contests in the mountain refuges, there’s an endless array of things that can sabotage your much-needed sleep. That’s why these earplugs are one of the most essential items to take along on a trip like the Haute Route. Mack’s makes good quality silicone earplugs that are more comfortable and effective than the standard foam kind. Trust us, you’ll be glad you packed them!


ItemOur recommended gear 
GuidebookThe Walker's Haute Route (Cicerone Trekking Guide)This is the best guidebook available and a truly essential item to bring.
JournalMoleskin Journal
Ear plugsMack's ear plugsEssential for the more crowded campsites!
CameraSony a5100 mirrorless cameraIan loves his Sony mirrorless camera!
TripodJoby GorillaPodThe perfect travel tripod.
Unlocked phoneMoto G PlayA simple, budget-friendly phone to use for navigation and local calls with a SIM.
Battery backupAnker PowerCore 20100There are many long sections without access to outlets on the Haute Route.
Laundry Soap SheetsSea to Summit Trek and Travel Pocket SoapThese are the greatest travel hack ever! The best way to clean your clothes on-the-go.
Travel adapterJoomfeen All-in-one adapterGreat for all of your travels.
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.

No need to pack a  bunch of clothes- simply rinse them in the sink and rig a clothesline wherever you find yourself!

 

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for roughly 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. 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 favorite piece of women’s clothing: Smartwool Baselayer Top

This shirt was absolutely perfect for layering under my down jacket on frosty mornings on the trail, as well as nice and cozy for hanging out at camp and sleeping in. It’s light enough that I could wear it for added sun protection on hot days, too. Since it’s merino wool, I could wear it for days without it getting stinky at all. When it did need washing, I simply washed it out at the campground and it was dry in no time. This is the ideal clothing item for the demands of the Haute Route.


ItemOur recommended gear 
Underwear (3-4 pairs)ExOfficio Women's Sport UnderwearVery packable and easy to wash on the go!
Socks (3-4 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports Bra (1)Brooks 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 Crew
Short sleeve hiking shirt (1)Mountain Hardwear Wicked shirt
Leggings (1 pair)Nike Power Essential Running Tight
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 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 in the mountains all day. And these are stylish too!
Underwire bra
HatA hat with a wide brim provides valuable protection for sun and rain.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1The perfect camp sandals!

Men’s Clothing

Ian’s favorite men’s clothing item: Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks

Part of what makes the Walker’s Haute Route so incredible is the variety of terrains and conditions it allows you to experience. From climbing steeply up to a wet and windy mountain pass to walking through a flat and sunny valley,  you’re unlikely to get bored on this hike. Unfortunately, while the dynamic nature of the Haute Route can be great for the senses, it can wreak havoc on your feet, causing blisters and other nasty ailments.  A good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chances of suffering from 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 (3-4 pairs)Exofficio Give-N-Go boxerHighly recommended! You can bring 4-5 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (3-4 pairs)Darn Tough Hiker Micro CrewIn 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)Columbia Tech Shirt
Hiking pants (1)Prana Brion pantsThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking shorts (1)Prana Brion shortsAwesome shorts that are great for hiking.
Running shorts (1)La Sportiva Aelous shorts
Down jacketPatagonia Down Seater HoodieSuper warm and super packable
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Helium II jacketA good rain jacket is a must!
Rain pantsMarmot Precip Pants
HatOutdoor Research Performance Trucker hatA hat with a wide brim provides valuable protection for sun and rain.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1 sandals
Hiking bootsSalomon X-Ultra 3 MidSuper comfortable and super waterproof!
Digital watchCasio Classic Sports watchAll you'll ever need
SunglassesSuncloud Mayor Polarized sunglasses

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what to pack for the Walker's Haute Route

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GR20 | Maps

The GR20 takes hikers on a spectacular trail across the island of Corsica and is one of the most renowned long-distance treks in the world. The route is broken into…

The GR20 takes hikers on a spectacular trail across the island of Corsica and is one of the most renowned long-distance treks in the world. The route is broken into 16 stages and is traditionally walked from north to south, starting in the town of Calenzana and finishing in the little village of Conca. This post give you all of the GR20  resources you need to familiarize yourself with the GR20 map, route, location, and all other things navigational so you can be sure you’re ready to take on this incredible trail!

What’s in this post?

Where is the GR20?

The GR20 is located on the semi-autonomous French island of Corsica. Corsica sits in the Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of both France and Italy and just north of the island of Sardinia. GR20 hikers are likely to pass through at least one of the major towns in Corsica en route to and from the trail. These towns include Bastia, Calvi, Ajaccio, and Porto Vecchio.

Map showing the location of the GR20

The GR20 takes trekkers across Corsica.

 

Many trekkers are surprised to find that the GR20 visits very few Corsican towns along its route, instead staying high in the mountains and stopping mainly at mountain refuges and bergeries (former shepherds’ huts). However, the GR20 does pass through the town of Vizzavona, which is the approximate halfway point of the trek.

Given this fact, many hikers will want to add a few days to their itinerary, if possible, to ensure they are able to visit some of the beautiful towns and villages in Corsica.

The GR20 is traditionally hiked from north to south, beginning in the town of Calenzana and finishing in the town of Conca. However, it is possible and not uncommon to walk the GR20 from south to north.

The stages for the traditional north to south route of the GR20 are as follows:

  • Stage 1: Calenzana to Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu
  • Stage 2: Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu to Refuge de Carozzu
  • Stage 3: Refuge de Carozzu to Ascu Stagnu
  • Stage 4: Ascu Stagnu to Auberge U Vallone or Refuge de Tighjettu
  • Stage 5: Auberge U Vallone to Hotel Castel di Vergio
  • Stage 6: Hotel Castel di Vergio to Refuge de Manganu
  • Stage 7: Refuge de Manganu to Refuge Petra Piana
  • Stage 8: Refuge de Petra Piana to Refuge L’Onda
  • Stage 9: Refuge L’Onda to Vizzavona
  • Stage 10: Vizzavona to Bergeries d’E Capanelle
  • Stage 11: E’Capanelle to Bocca di Verdi
  • Stage 12: Bocca di Verdi to Refuge d’Usciolu
  • Stage 13: Refuge d’Usciolu to Refuge de Matalza
  • Stage 14: Refuge de Matalza to Refuge d’Asinau
  • Stage 15: Refuge d’Asinau to Village de Bavella
  • Stage 16: Village de Bavella to Conca

 

Map of the GR20 in Corsica.

The GR20 take trekkers across the island of Corsica.

 

In addition to the traditional route, the GR20 also includes several ‘alternates’. These trails connect the same start and finish points, but take walkers on a different route between the two points. These alternate routes can be used to add challenge, visit nearby summits, avoid certain sections, or provide a low-level route in the case of bad weather. Additionally, there is an alternate route that allows trekkers to skip an entire stage of the GR20 by going directly from Refuge d’Uscioulu to Refuge d’Asinau.

Here are the common alternate routes on the GR20, which are also shown on the map below:

  • Low level route on Stage 1 allows trekkers to avoid exposure in bad weather.
  • Low level route on Stage 2 allows trekkers to avoid exposure in bad weather.
  • High level route on Stage 8 between Refuge de Petra Piana and Refuge L’Onda.
  • High level route on Stage 9 between Refuge L’Onda and Vizzavona.
  • Ascent of Monte Renosu on Stage 11 between Bergeries E’Capanelle and Bocca di Verdi
  • High level route between Refuge d’Usciolu and Refuge d’Asinau, shortening the GR20 by a day.
  • High level route between Refuge d’Asinau and Village de Bavella
Map of the GR20 with common trail variants.

The GR20 also includes many alternate routes, shown in the map above.

 

Interactive GR20 Map

The interactive GR20 map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route. The map also displays the common alternate routes that are a part of the GR20. You can click on each stage to see its total length, listed in both kilometers and miles.

 

How long is the GR20?

The GR20 is approximately 113 miles or 182 kilometers long. This is based on following the traditional route and not taking any of the alternates. Of course, many trekkers will opt to take several of the alternate routes, which will lengthen or shorten the total distance, depending on the routes chosen. You’ll have the option to walk less or more depending on the weather, your preferences, and the conditions encountered on the trail.

The maps below show the approximate distance of each stage in both miles and kilometers, giving you a sense of the distances encountered on each section of the GR20. For more detail on each stage be sure to check out our interactive map in the section above!

Map of the GR20 showing stage distances in miles.

Approximate stage distances of the GR20 in miles.

 

Map of the GR20 with stage distances in kilometers.

Approximate stage distances of the GR20 in kilometers.

 

What is the elevation profile of the GR20?

Over the course of all 113 miles, the GR20 has a staggering 34,500 feet or 10,500 meters of elevation change! Averaged out over 16 stages this means that each day you’ll have over 2,150 feet or 655 meters of elevation change per stage. Many trekkers will complete the GR20 in fewer days, meaning they’ll have an even greater challenge!

Of course, the elevation gain and loss isn’t spread out evenly from stage to stage. You’ll have days with a tremendous amount of climbing and you’ll also have days with much less (although always some!). Given that the GR20 is a point to point trail (meaning it does not start and finish in the same location) you’ll lose a tad more elevation that you’ll gain over the course of the entire route.

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the GR20 is like in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 16-stage GR20 route, with the stop name shown at the top.

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 Refuge de Carrozu to Ascu Stagnu is rather short in distance, while the stage from Ascu Stagnu to Auberge U Vallone has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the GR20 be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine

Elevation profile of the GR20 in feet and miles.

Elevation profile of the GR20 in feet and miles.

 

Elevation profile of the GR20 in meters and kilometers.

Elevation profile of the GR20 in meters and kilometers.

 

Which maps should I carry on the GR20?

The GR20 is the best marked trail we’ve ever hiked. The notorious red and white paint flashes guide the way through gullies, across boulder fields, and past mountain peaks. The saying on the GR20 is that if you’ve gone more than 20 feet without seeing marker you’re probably off the trail, and this is true! However, it can still be easy to get turned around, mixed up, and generally off the main trail in some capacity. You may find yourself walking in an early morning mist, struggling to look up to find a trail marker with the blazing sun, or simply have missed the last trail junction. For this reason we highly recommend that all trekkers have some form of wayfinding for the GR20.

When we hiked the GR20 we did not rely on traditional, paper maps that are available for the route. Instead, we preferred utilizing GPS maps on our phones to ensure we knew where the trail was as well as where we were in relation to it. Cell phone service is very limited along the GR20, so it is critical to have a good offline mapping app such as Gaia GPS to ensure you’ll be able to view the map at any point along the route.

With all this considered, we still recommend carrying a paper map, or map booklet. While technology has done a tremendous amount to make navigating while hiking easier, there is simply no replacement for carrying a physical map with you. If your phone runs out of battery or you drop it in one of the many swimming holes along the GR20 you’ll be glad you had your handy paper map to rely on.

To cover the entire GR20 at a good scale (1:25,000) we recommend bringing the following IGN maps:

. A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

GR20 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 GR20 GPX files for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each of the traditional stages of the GR20 as well as all of the common alternate route, plus waypoints for each stop along the way.

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

BUY NOW

 

GR20 map app/offline mapping

As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while hiking the GR20. 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 GR20 Offline Mapping post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your GR20 map. This step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device.

Check out all of our great GR20 resources:

 

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Badlands National Park | Maps & Resources

Badlands National Park preserves over 240,000 acres of prairie grassland, sandstone spires, and stunning rock formations in southwestern South Dakota. The park is somewhat remote, with few major cities in…

Badlands National Park preserves over 240,000 acres of prairie grassland, sandstone spires, and stunning rock formations in southwestern South Dakota. The park is somewhat remote, with few major cities in close proximity to its borders.

Badlands is also unique in the fact that it’s managed by both the National Park Service as well as the Oglala Lakota Tribe, which manages what is known as the South Unit. Given the large size and unique geography of the park, it is especially important to have a good sense of where you plan to visit and what you’d like to see.

To help with this, we’ve created this complete guide to all of the Badlands National Park maps you’ll need to ensure you don’t waste time figuring out how to get from point A to B and can instead enjoy your trip to this incredible national park.

Let’s get started.

View of sandstone rocks in the Badlands

 

In this Post

Where is Badlands National Park?

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota, approximately 1 hour east of Rapid City. The park can generally be divided into the North and South Units, with the North Unit being the more frequently visited section of the park.

In addition, Badlands National Park also includes a small “island” of land that is not contiguous with the main park. Known as the Palmer Creek Unit, this section of the park sits entirely within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Check out the overview map below to get a general sense of the location of Badlands National Park.

Map showing the location of Badlands National Park

Overview map of Badlands National Park. Click to enlarge.

 

Zooming in a bit from the high-level overview provided above, you’ll see on the map below that Badlands National Park has several other public lands close by, including Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

You can also see that there are several small towns that provide access to the various sections of the park, with the main entrance points being the towns of Scenic, Wall, and Interior, SD.

Map of the area surrounding Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park Area Map. NPS map.  Click to enlarge.

 

Looking for a PDF map of the Badlands National Park Area Map? Click here to download directly from the National Park Service.

 

Badlands National Park Maps

The following sections contain all the map resources you’ll need to plan your perfect trip to Badlands National Park. We’ve compiled maps from the National Park Service as well as created a few of our own to help supplement what the park service provides.

As always, you can find the full set of Badlands National Park maps produced by the National Park Service here.

Badlands National Park Brochure Map

The park brochure map provides a nice general orientation to Badlands National Park and is useful for getting a sense of where the main attractions are located. Use it to help organize your trip, understand distances in the park, and think about where you may want to stay during your visit.

Badlands National Park map

Map of Badlands National Park from the NPS park brochure. NPS map. Click to enlarge.

 

Interested in a PDF map of the Badlands National Park Brochure Map? Click here to download directly from the National Park Service.

 

Detailed maps of the Cedar Pass area of Badlands National Park

Most visitors will start their trip to the Badlands by stopping at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, which serves as the park headquarters. This frequently visited section of the park also includes the main campground, the start of the Badlands Loop Road, and several popular hikes.

Map of Cedar Pass area

Detailed Map of the Cedar Pass section of Badlands National Park. NPS Map. Click to enlarge.

 

Interested in a PDF map of the Cedar Pass Area Map? Click here to download directly from the National Park Service.

For those interested in exploring the Cedar Pass section of the park, we recommend checking out the following:

Badlands National Park Campground Map

For those interested in camping during their visit to Badlands National Park, we’ve put together a complete guide below.

Check out the Complete Guide to Camping in Badlands National Park here.

We’ve also created the map below to give you a sense of where the park’s two main campgrounds are located.

Map of campsites at Badlands National Park

Car camping options in Badlands National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. Click to enlarge.

 

In addition, the NPS also provides a helpful map of the popular Cedar Pass Campground, as shown below.

Map of the Cedar Pass Campground

Map of the Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park. NPS Map. Click to enlarge.

 

Getting to Badlands National Park

Most visitors will travel to the Badlands by taking Interstate 90, which runs just north of the national park. From here, you’ll have easy access to the Pinnacles Entrance from the town of Wall as well as the Northeast Entrance from State Highway 240.

For those coming from the south, Highway 44 brings visitors to the town of Interior and the main park headquarters. Highway 44 continues west from here to the town of Scenic, which provides access to the South Unit in Badlands.

Use the Google Map below to get directions from your specific location to Badlands National Park:

Main park entrances

Badlands National Park has four main entrances conveniently located throughout the park. These include:

  • Interior Entrance: The main entrance to the park.
  • Northeast Entrance: Easily accessed from I-90 and close to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
  • Pinnacles Entrance: Accessed from the town of Wall, the Pinnacles Entrance provides access to the Sage Creek Area.
  • White River Entrance: The only entrance to the South Unit and the White River Visitor Center.
Map of entrance stations to Badlands National Park.

Map of entrance stations to Badlands National Park. NPS map. Click to enlarge.

Getting around Badlands National Park

Finally, it is important to have a sense of the main roads through the park and how they connect to the various sections of the Badlands.

Badlands Loop Road

The Badlands Loop Road is the main thoroughfare through the North Unit of Badlands National Park. Connecting the the main visitor center with the Pinnacles Overlook, this winding road takes visitors through much of the most stunning scenery that the Badlands have to offer.

Sage Creek Rim Road

Sage Creek Rim Road continues west from where the Badlands Loop Road ends near the Pinnacles Overlook. The road is unpaved, so travel can be slow going at times. The Sage Creek Rim Road will bring visitors to the less-visited sections of the Badlands where you’re likely to encounter some of the wildlife that call the park home.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope these mapping resources for Badlands National Park have given you an overview of this incredible landscape. Let us know of any other maps you’d like to see in the comments below!

Close up view of the Badlands

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Cleveland Way Packing List

If we could choose just one word to describe the Cleveland Way it would be this: variety. Over the course of its 110 glorious miles, the Cleveland Way crosses forests,…

If we could choose just one word to describe the Cleveland Way it would be this: variety.

Over the course of its 110 glorious miles, the Cleveland Way crosses forests, hills, moorland, coastal cliffs, historical landmarks, and charming villages. While the diversity of sights and landscapes certainly adds to the richness of the experience, it can make packing pretty challenging!

You’ll need to be prepared for all sorts of weather, and well as some challenging hills and tough underfoot conditions on the Cleveland Way. At the same time, carrying too big a rucksack will undoubtedly take away from the enjoyment of your trek.

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 what you don’t need) to have your best possible Cleveland Way Walk!

In this post:

Hiker on Urra Moor, Cleveland Way
Approaching Round Hill on Urra Moor, the high point on the Cleveland Way.

Packing Basics for the Cleveland Way

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the Cleveland Way, such as your 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. Despite all of those factors, there are some universal rules that all hikers should follow when putting together their kit for the Cleveland Way.

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 Cleveland Way will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the Cleveland Way

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Cleveland Way. 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.

Read More: Cleveland Way Maps and Routes

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

Footwear on the Cleveland Way

One of the most challenging aspects of the Cleveland Way is the strain it puts on your feet. The many miles on rocky tracks and over undulating terrain will leave your feet feeling sore and tired. Add in some moisture, and you’ve got a real recipe for trouble. While some soreness is inevitable with longs days of walking, blisters, bruising, and extreme discomfort don’t have to be. Therefore, it is imperative that you test out your footwear ahead of time and make sure you break it in!

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Cleveland Way, 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. You’ll likely need to go up half a size to account for thicker socks and/or swollen feet. Some people may prefer the ankle support of traditional hiking boots, while others may seek out the cushion and breathability of trail shoes. Again, it’s all about trying a variety of options and finding the best one for you.

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, 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.

Others prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple of 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 Cleveland Way journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Cleveland Way. 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.

If you need more underfoot padding, try using socks with extra cushioning or even some custom insoles.

A view of Whitby from the water
The trail passes through many lovely seaside villages, including Whitby.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! No matter what time of year you choose to walk, it is nearly gaurunteed that you’ll experience some wet weather at some point along your journey. Having the appropriate gear will make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your trip to the fullest. Bonus: waterproof outer layers will also serve as great protection against the infamous winds that can blow on sections of the Cleveland Way.

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. And a waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either.

Man standing in red rain jacket on the South Downs Way
Good waterproofs will keep you smiling throughout your walk!

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your Cleveland Way 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: Black Diamond Alpine Flz Trekking Poles

The Cleveland Way has quite a few hills and all that up and down can really wreak havoc on knees and hips after awhile. Trekking poles make a huge difference in relieving the impact on your joints, not to mention they also make climbing hills feel much easier. They’re also great for saving ankles and helping with stability on loose, rocky trails (which there are plenty of on the Cleveland Way). We love this Black Diamond pair because they are sturdy, lightweight, easily packable, and the cork handles fend off sweat and blisters much better than the other styles.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Multi-ToolBibury 21-in-1 Multi-ToolPerfect for cutting cheese or opening cans when you need some trail-side snacks!
First Aid KitSurviveware Small First Aid KitA 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. We like the labeled compartments and waterproof case on this one.
Hydration BladderPlatypus Big ZipWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3-liter version.
Small DaypackDeuter Speed Light 20An optional item that is great for walking around town. Deuter makes one that is versatile and good quality.
Pack CoverSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Rain CoverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the Cleveland Way! This one has an extra strap that keeps it in place on windy days.
Men’s BackpackOsprey Atmos AG 50While backpacks are a very personal item, we find Osprey to make by far the most comfortable packs on the market. This 50L model will work for minimalist campers or those staying indoors.
Women’s BackpackOsprey Aura AG 50One of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the ‘anti-gravity’ mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking PolesBlack Diamond Alpine FlzThese can help take the load off your knees and they’re great on steep sections.
Travel TowelEono Microfiber TowelGreat to have in hostels and campsite showers.
Headlamp/ Head torchBlack Diamond StormGreat headtorch with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry BagsEarth Pak 10L or 20LKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour! These are also great for keeping your kit organized and packed efficiently.
Hiking GaitersPeter Storm Ankle GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails and they’ll keep out stones, dirt, and gravel.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug SprayBen’s Insect RepellentYou’ll be glad you brought this when the mozzies or midges come out.
Toilet Paper and TrowelThe TentLab Ultralight TrowelAs any hiker will tell you, it’s always better to be prepared and Leave No Trace!
Purple heather alongside a dirt trail on the Cleveland Way
Hike in late August or September to experience breathtaking seas of purple heather in full bloom!

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any Cleveland Way 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 Cleveland Way 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 Cleveland Way Walk. Your phone can be your navigational device, your camera, your guidebook, and your notepad all in one. The route can be a bit unclear at times, and charging opportunities are inconsistent, 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 ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Guide BookTrailblazer: The Cleveland WayThis comprehensive and up-to-date guide has tons of useful information about lodging, food, logistics, and sites of interest along the route. Plus, the detailed area maps are very handy.
Ear PlugsMack’s Ear PlugsEssential for a good night’s sleep! We find the silicone ones to stay in place and block out noise best.
Sleeping MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in hostels or campgrounds on the Cleveland Way.
Travel AdapterLYSEDa All in One USB Travel AdapterIf you’re coming from abroad, this is going to be necessary. This one is super compact and the two USB ports are very handy!
Digital WatchCasio Classic Sport WatchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times. This one is a great value and nearly indestructible.
CameraSony Alpha 6000Optional, but this compact camera takes beautiful photos and is easy to use.
Battery BackupAnker Powercore 10,000Great for charging electronics when you don’t have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable SoapCoghlan’s Camp 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. They can be repurposed many times to minimize plastic waste.
Coast to Coast Walk women's packing list

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for over a week 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 Cleveland Way Walk. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring.

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Berghaus Deluge Rain Trousers 

English weather is temperamental. While walking the Cleveland Way, you’ll get to experience a wide range of elements (rain, sun, wind, etc), often all in the same 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 Berghaus rain pants are simple, effective, comfortable, and easy to get on and off over boots. Check them out here:

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go SportThese are worth every penny when it comes to staying comfortable on the trail. They are quick-drying and antimicrobial meaning you can just bring a few pairs and wash them in the sink as you 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 Bra (1)Under Armour Mid Crossback This is a good example of something breathable and comfortable that you can wear all day.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Smartwool NTS 250 Base LayerA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pants (1)Berghaus Amlia Walking TrousersStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Shorts (1)The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 These shorts are super versatile and durable! The soft, wide waistband works great underneath a rucksack’s hip belt.
Down JacketRab Microlight AlpineLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain JacketMarmot PreCip Eco JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain PantsBerghaus Deluge For those heavy English downpours!
Hiking BootsKeen Targhee Mid Height Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSinner Polarised SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re outside all day. And these are stylish too!
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 in the summertime, but can be nice to have in tempermental weather.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.

Sandals/Camp Shoes Crocs Classic ClogGreat to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaRobelli 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 eight days 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 for your Cleveland Way adventure.

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

The conditions on the Cleveland Way 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 ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring just 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Boot Socks In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Icebreaker 200 OasisThis is a very versatile baselayer that works great under an outer layer or on its own.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking Pants (1 pair)The North Face Exploration Convertible TrousersThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking Shorts (1 pair)Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsYou can skip these if you’re using our recommended convertible trousers, but it can be nice to have an extra set of bottoms. These are so packable that you really can’t go wrong!
Down JacketRab Cirrus Flex HoodyLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain Jacket Marmot Precip Eco JacketUnlike many lightweight rain jackets. this one will actually keep you dry during long days on the trail.
Rain PantsThe North Face Venture 2 Waterproof Overtrousers Essential for those heavy English downpours!
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogSuper nice to change into after walking in boots all day!
Hiking BootsSalomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSinner Thunder Crystal Revo SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaRobelli BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Camping on the Cleveland Way

Camping Gear

Camping on the Cleveland Way is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. For the most part, campgrounds along the trail are convenient, and generally quite comfortable. Camping allows you to keep a more flexible schedule, save money, and fully immerse yourself in the great outdoors. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Cleveland Way with your own tent.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

Many people choose to camp along the Cleveland Way 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 RecommendationWhy We Love It
TentMSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking TentThis is the best designed tent on the market. The genius freestanding rain cover allows you to pack up all of your gear and tent while still being sheltered- perfect for rainy mornings!
Sleeping BagVango Treklite Lightweight Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the Ultra 600 version.
Sleeping PadTherm-a-Rest Ultralight Camping 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. The pump sack makes inflating it a breeze, too!
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowIf you’re camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket Rocket 2Ian has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Person outside a stone cottage

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 Earplugs

Hiking is infinitely less fun when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. There are many wonderful hostels along the Cleveland Way, 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 RecommendationWhy We Love It
EarplusMack’s Silicone EarplugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Eye MaskAlaska Bear Silk Sleep MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
Sleep SheetScottish Silkworm Sleeping Bag LinerA nice item to have for nights in bunkhouses and hostels.
Travel TowelSea to Summit Drylite TowelNot all of the bunkhouses along the Cleveland Way provide towels, so it’s nice to have a backup.
Sandals/SlippersCrocs Classic ClogLightweight and super comfortable!
A quiet street in Robin Hood's Bay, along the Cleveland Way

Conclusion

The Cleveland Way, with its colorful moors, magnificent coastal vistas, and quaint seaside villages is one of the UK’s most memorable walks. While it’s definitely managable for walkers of all ability levels, it’s not without its challenges. By putting together a smart kit, you’ll get to focus your energy on the good kinds of challenges (like climbing a steep hill or covering vast distances), and avoid the less fun types of challenges (getting soaked in a downpour or dealing with blisters). The gear choose to pack (and leave behind) will be essential in ensuring that you have everything you need to stay comfortable, prepared, and injury-free without carrying a bigger rucksack than needed. Happy trails!

Also be sure to check out our Cleveland Way Maps & Routes post!

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Cleveland Way | Maps & Routes

The Cleveland Way is one of England’s oldest National Trails, having been first established in 1969 as a designated walking route. The walk takes in a diversity of landscapes from…

The Cleveland Way is one of England’s oldest National Trails, having been first established in 1969 as a designated walking route. The walk takes in a diversity of landscapes from the heather covered hills of the North York Moors National Park to the stunning coastline between Whitby and Scarborough. The Cleveland Way is typically walked in between 6 – 11 days, and we’ve described it here in nine stages. 

Starting in Helmsley and finishing in Filey on the North Sea you’ll enjoy the stunning views, quaint villages, and the unique history that the Cleveland Way has to offer. Along the route you’ll find a plethora of accommodation options to suit all budgets and sensibilities.

This post is designed to provide an introduction to the Cleveland Way route though in-depth maps, elevation profiles, stage-by-stage maps, and more!

Let’s get started.

White cottages in Whitby, England.

The quaint streets of Whitby are a highlight of the Cleveland Way.

 

In this Post

 

Where is the Cleveland Way?

The Cleveland Way carves a horseshoe shaped path around the North York Moors and surrounding coastline in north-central England. Connecting Helmsley in the west to Filey in the east, the route is most commonly walked in a anti-clockwise direction. While there is nothing to stop you from walking in reverse, we think saving the coastal sections for the end makes for a wonderful finish.

Generally speaking you shouldn’t have trouble accessing the Cleveland Way from other parts of England and the UK. The route is well-served by public transportation with most walkers likely to take the train to York before transfering to a local bus to reach either Helmsley or Filey. Other major transportation hubs along the route include Thirsk, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, and Whitby.

Check out the map below to get a general sense of where the Cleveland Way is located.

Overview map of the Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way is located in north-east England. (Click to enlarge).

 

Highlights of the Cleveland Way include the famous heathered hills of the North York Moors, the Whitby Abbey, Robin Hood’s Bay, and the Scarborough Castle.

The walk is commonly completed in nine days walking, although many will prefer to cover the Cleveland Way in 7 or 8 days. We think 9 days provides a nice pace that allows walkers to savor their time in the part of England while still having some excellent days out walking.

Below is the standard 9-day itinerary for the Cleveland Way:

  • Stage 1: Helmsley to Sutton Bank
  • Stage 2: Sutton Bank to Osmotherley
  • Stage 3: Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top
  • Stage 4: Clay Bank Top to Kildale
  • Stage 5: Kildale to Saltburn-by-the-Sea
  • Stage 6: Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Runswick Bay
  • Stage 7: Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay
  • Stage 8: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough
  • Stage 9: Scarborough to Filey

Check out the Cleveland Way map below for a detailed overview of the walk. 

Cleveland Way Map

Map of the Cleveland Way. Click to enlarge.

 

In addition to the standard route described above there are a few popular side trips that we recommend for anyone walking the Cleveland Way. These include the following:

  • Stage 1: Detour to the Kilburn White Horse
    • Near the top of Sutton Bank, walkers can take a short detour past the Yorkshire Gliding Club grounds to reach this interesting monument in the hillside. Created in 1857, it is reportedly the largest hillside figure in England.
  • Stage 5: Trip to the top of Roseberry Topping
    • A short, 2-km return trip from the main Cleveland Way will bring walkers to the top of Roseberry Topping, with its tremendous view of the countryside beyond. Thought by many to be the highest point of the walk, you’ll actually have already reached that at the top of Urra Moor!

You can see detailed maps of these side trips in the stage-by-stage map section below.

 

The Cleveland Way winds through the North York Moors National Park

Read more: Cleveland Way Packing List

Interactive Cleveland Way map

The interactive Cleveland Way 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 Cleveland Way?

Look around at the various guidebooks, websites, and other sources and you’ll typically see the length of the Cleveland Way given as somewhere around 175-km long. While this is an accurate estimate, we measure (via GPS) the Cleveland Way to be 168.5 kilometers (104.7 miles) from Helmsley to Filey. 

While this exact measurement provides little practical value to anyone planning a walk on the Cleveland Way, it is important to have a general understanding the distances involved. The maps below give the approximate distances for each of the nine-stages of the Cleveland Way in both kilometers and miles.

Use these to help understand the challenge each stages poses so you can be sure to plan your own itinerary accordingly.

Do keep in mind that the distances provided here assume no stops, detours, or other wandering off the main path. You will certainly end up walking further than the distances provided in this article as many of the accommodation options are located off the main route.

Add in a few side trips, a stop at the local pub, and a detour to a beautiful beach and you should plan on walking well over the 105 miles we’ve estimated for the Cleveland Way here!

Note that the distances displayed below do not include alternates or variants, and should only be used to get a general sense of the stage lengths.

Map of the Cleveland Way with stage distances

Stage distances of the Cleveland Way in kilometers. Click to enlarge.

 

Map of the Cleveland Way with stage distances in miles.

Stage distances for the Cleveland Way in miles. Click to enlarge.

 

Cleveland Way Elevation Profile

While not overly challenging, the Cleveland Way still has a significant amount of elevation gain. The entire walk has approximately 2,800 meters or 9,200 feet of elevation gain of the course of its 169 kilometers. Certainly nothing to underestimate!

Most of this elevation gain occurs during the walks first five stages, before the trail reaches the coast. The Cleveland Way’s major climbs include the walk to the top of Sutton Bank on stage 1, Carlton Bank near the top of the Carlton Moor, and of course the Cleveland Way’s high point at Round Hill on Urra Moor.

However, don’t be deceived by the coastal sections of the walk, as there is still significant elevation to be gained/lost here! Be especially prepared for the climb encountered between Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough.

Hiker on Urra Moor

Approaching Round Hill on Urra Moor, the high point on the Cleveland Way.

 

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Cleveland Way entails in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 9-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.

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 stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay is rather long in distance, while the stage from Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the Cleveland Way be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.

 

Elevation profile of the Cleveland Way

Elevation profile of the Cleveland Way. Click to enlarge.

 

Elevation profile of the Cleveland Way in miles and feet.

Elevation profile for the Cleveland Way in miles. Click to enlarge.

 

Which maps should I carry on the Cleveland Way?

The Cleveland Way is a well-marked trail, with the iconic acorn symbol used by England’s National Trail system found at major intersections along the route. This helps identify the Cleveland Way from other popular trails in the area, of which there are many.

However, it is still quite easy to get turned around or otherwise off-track on the Cleveland Way due largely to the number of trail junctions encountered. For this reason, we recommend all walkers carry a few Cleveland Way maps to ensure they don’t spend an afternoon walking the wrong direction!

Our preference is generally to rely on GPS maps on our smartphones when out on a multi-day walk, and we can highly recommend this method for most walkers. All you’ll need is a GPX file for the route (available on the National Trails website here) and a GPS app. We like Gaia GPS, although there are many great options available.

In addition to digital navigation methods, we also recommend you bring a paper map or map booklet of the Cleveland Way along on your walk. There is simply no replacement for a physical map, afterall you never know when you may find yourself with a dead battery rendering your GPS app useless!

There are several excellent physical maps available for the Cleveland Way, outlined below:

The Cleveland Way Map Booklet – Cicerone Guides
In our opinion, your best bet will be to pack this excellent resource from Cicerone Guides. Their Cleveland Way map booklet contains Ordnance Survey maps for the entire route, neatly organized into a small and portable booklet.

 

Cleveland Way Adventure Atlas
Another convenient and highly recommended option is the Cleveland Way Adventure Atlas. This map consists of OS Explorer maps for the entire Cleveland Way route, but saves you the hassle of assembling all of the Ordnance Survey maps yourself. It is also a bit larger and easier to read when compared to the Cicerone Map Booklet, which many walkers will prefer.

 

Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps
Finally, no article on maps for the Cleveland Way would be complete without referencing Ordnance Survey maps. These detailed maps provide an excellent resource for the walk, although you’ll need to carry three OS maps to cover the entire route:

In addition, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Stage-by-stage maps for the Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way is most commonly walked in nine stages, with a wide variety of accommodation options available at each point along the walk. The stage maps below provide a general outline for each of these nine stages and we’ve also included the distance and elevation change for each day below.

Stage 1: Helmsley to Sutton Bank

Distance: 11.89 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +442 m / -217 m

Map of Stage 1 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 1 – Helmsley to Sutton Bank

 

Stage 2: Sutton Bank to Osmotherley

Distance: 18.9 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +500 m / -621 m

Map of Stage 2 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 2 – Sutton Bank to Osmotherley

 

Stage 3: Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top

Distance: 17.6 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +821 m / -720 m

Map of Stage 3 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 3 – Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top

 

Stage 4: Clay Bank Top to Kildale

Distance: 14.99 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +290 m / -382 m

Map of Stage 4 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 4 – Clay Bank Top to Kildale

 

Stage 5: Kildale to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Distance: 22.23 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +606 m / -739 m

Map of Stage 5 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 5 – Kildale to Saltburn by the Sea

 

Stage 6: Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Runswick Bay

Distance: 19.54 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +793 m / -757 m

Map of Stage 6 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 6 – Saltburn by the Sea to Runswick Bay

 

Stage 7: Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay

Distance: 25.37 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +983 m / -1,052 m

Map of Stage 7 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 7 – Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay

 

Stage 8: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough

Distance: 24.19 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +846 m / -853 m

Map of Stage 8 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 8 – Robin Hoods Bay to Scarborough

 

Stage 9: Scarborough to Filey

Distance: 13.78 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +597 m / -556 m

Map of Stage 9 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 9 – Scarborough to Filey

 

Cleveland Way GPS/GPX

If you are interested in getting access to the GPS data for the Cleveland Way it really couldn’t be easier, as the National Trails website provides a free GPX file. This data includes the short side-trips that we described above, and they also have an excellent interactive map. Check it out below.

Click here to access the free GPS data for the Cleveland Way

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

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we highly recommend utilizing offline downloadable GPS maps on your smartphone to navigate while walking the Cleveland Way. 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 may not 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 Cleveland Way.

Hiker with a map on their phone

 

Have a great Cleveland Way adventure!

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

And don’t forget to check out our handy Cleveland Way Packing List!

Beach in Scarborough, England.

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Cotswold Way Packing List

Whether you’re looking for quaint villages, ancient ruins, or spectacular natural scenery, the Cotswold Way will not disappoint. This 102-mile (164 km) route connects the charming town of Chipping Camden…

Whether you’re looking for quaint villages, ancient ruins, or spectacular natural scenery, the Cotswold Way will not disappoint. This 102-mile (164 km) route connects the charming town of Chipping Camden to the historic Roman city of bath. Along the way, walkers will enjoy some of the UK’s most picturesque countryside, woodlands, and villages.

Given the plentiful accommodation and services located along the Cotswold Way, you won’t need to carry a very large rucksack. That being said, you’ll want to be prepared for a wide range of landscapes and weather conditions. So how does pack smarter not heavier for this incredible adventure?

Read on for our best advice and detailed kit lists to see everything you need (and everything you don’t) to have your best possible Cotswold Way Walk!

In this post:

A street scene in Bath, UK, at the end of the Cotswold Way
The historic city of Bath, the traditional endpoint of the Cotswold Way.

Packing Basics for the Cotswold Way

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the Cotswold Way, such as your 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. Despite all of those factors, there are some universal rules that all hikers should follow when putting together their kit for the Cotswold Way.

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 Cotswold Way will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the Cotswold Way

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Cotswold Way. 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. Keep in mind, these types of accommodations are quite limited along the route.

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. Most of the camping along the way will likely consist of informally pitching your tent with the permission of local landowners, so you’ll need to be prepared to be quite self-sufficient.

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

Read more: Cotswold Way Maps and Routes

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

Footwear on the Cotswold Way

One of the most challenging aspects of the CotswoldWay is the strain it puts on your feet. While it’s not an especially difficult trail, there are plenty of ups and downs across a variety of surfaces, lumpy, wet grass being one of the most common (and most tiresome!) terrains. While some soreness is inevitable with longs days of walking, blisters, bruising, and extreme discomfort don’t have to be. Therefore, it is imperative that you test out your footwear ahead of time and make sure you break it in!

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Cotswold Way, 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. You’ll likely need to go up half a size to account for thicker socks and/or swollen feet. Some people may prefer the ankle support of traditional hiking boots, while others may seek out the cushion and breathability of trail shoes. Again, it’s all about trying a variety of options and finding the best one for you.

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, 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.

Others prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple of 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 Cotswold Way journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Cotswold Way. 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.

If you need more underfoot padding, try using socks with extra cushioning or even some custom insoles.

Farm on the Cotswold Way
Even though pastureland provides a nice soft surface for walking, its uneven nature can create problems if you’re not careful.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! Even though the Cotswold Way passes through one of the drier, sunnier parts of England, let’s face it you’re still in England, and you should expect rain at some point on your trek.

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.

Man standing in red rain jacket on the South Downs Way
Good waterproofs will keep you smiling throughout your walk!

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your Cotswold Way 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: Black Diamond Alpine Flz Trekking Poles

The Cotswold Way has the reputation for being one of the “easier” of the U.K.’s National Trails, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it will be a walk in the park. There are a LOT of hills on this route (particularly the northern section), and the constant up and down can really wreak havoc on knees and hips after awhile. Trekking poles make a huge difference in relieving the impact on your joints, not to mention they also make climbing hills feel much easier. We love this Black Diamond pair because they are sturdy, lightweight, easily packable, and the cork handles fend off sweat and blisters much better than the other styles.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Multi-ToolBibury 21-in-1 Multi-ToolPerfect for cutting cheese or opening cans when you need some trail-side snacks!
First Aid KitSurviveware Small First Aid KitA 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. We like the labeled compartments and waterproof case on this one.
Hydration BladderPlatypus Big ZipWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3-liter version.
Small DaypackDeuter Speed Light 20An optional item that is great for walking around town. Deuter makes one that is versatile and good quality.
Pack CoverSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Rain CoverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the Cotswold Way!
Men’s BackpackOsprey Atmos AG 50While backpacks are a very personal item, we find Osprey to make by far the most comfortable packs on the market. This 50L model will work for minimalist campers or those staying indoors.
Women’s BackpackOsprey Aura AG 50One of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the ‘anti-gravity’ mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking PolesBlack Diamond Alpine FlzThese can help take the load off your knees and they’re great on steep sections.
Travel TowelEono Microfiber TowelGreat to have in hostels and campsite showers.
Headlamp/ Head torchBlack Diamond StormGreat headtorch with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry BagsEarth Pak 10L or 20LKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour! These are also great for keeping your kit organized and packed efficiently.
Hiking GaitersPeter Storm Ankle GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails and they’ll keep out stones, dirt, and gravel.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug SprayBen’s Insect RepellentYou’ll be glad you brought this when the mozzies or midges come out.
Toilet Paper and TrowelThe TentLab Ultralight TrowelAs any hiker will tell you, it’s always better to be prepared and Leave No Trace!
Gloucester Cathedral under a blue sky on the Cotswold Way.
Gloucester Cathedral is just off the Cotswold Way path and is a highlight for many walkers.

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any Cotswold Way 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 Cotswold Way 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 Cotswold Way 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 ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Guide BookCiccerone: Walking the Cotswold Way
OR
Trailblazer: Cotswold Way
We love Cicerone guides for their informative, yet straightforward advice and Kev Reynold’s is one of the best guidebook authors around. We find the Trailblazer guides to be a bit less user-friendly, but they have great features and this is the more up-to-date option.
Ear PlugsMack’s Ear PlugsEssential for a good night’s sleep! We find the silicone ones to stay in place and block out noise best.
Sleeping MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in hostels or campgrounds on the CotswoldWay.
Travel AdapterLYSEDa All in One USB Travel AdapterIf you’re coming from abroad, this is going to be necessary. This one is super compact and the two USB ports are very handy!
Digital WatchCasio Classic Sport WatchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times. This one is a great value and nearly indestructible.
CameraSony Alpha 6000Optional, but this compact camera takes beautiful photos and is easy to use.
Battery BackupAnker Powercore 10,000Great for charging electronics when you don’t have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable SoapCoghlan’s Camp 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. They can be repurposed many times to minimize plastic waste.
Coast to Coast Walk women's packing list

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for over a week 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 Cotswold Way Walk. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring.

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Berghaus Deluge Rain Trousers 

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 Berghaus rain pants are simple, effective, comfortable, and easy to get on and off over boots. Check them out here:

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go SportThese are worth every penny when it comes to staying comfortable on the trail. They are quick-drying and antimicrobial meaning you can just bring a few pairs and wash them in the sink as you 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 Bra (1)Under Armour Mid Crossback This is a good example of something breathable and comfortable that you can wear all day.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Smartwool NTS 250 Base LayerA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pants (1)Berghaus Amlia Walking TrousersStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Shorts (1)The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 These shorts are super versatile and durable! The soft, wide waistband works great underneath a rucksack’s hip belt.
Down JacketRab Microlight AlpineLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain JacketMarmot PreCip Eco JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain PantsBerghaus Deluge For those heavy English downpours!
Hiking BootsKeen Targhee Mid Height Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSinner Polarised SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re outside all day. And these are stylish too!
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 in the summertime, but can be nice to have in tempermental weather.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.

Sandals/Camp Shoes Crocs Classic ClogGreat to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaRobelli 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 eight days 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 Cotswold Way 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 uneven 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 ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring just 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Boot Socks In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Icebreaker 200 OasisThis is a very versatile baselayer that works great under an outer layer or on its own.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking Pants (1 pair)The North Face Exploration Convertible TrousersThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking Shorts (1 pair)Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsYou can skip these if you’re using our recommended convertible trousers, but it can be nice to have an extra set of bottoms and these are so packable that you really can’t go wrong!
Down JacketRab Cirrus Flex HoodyLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain Jacket Marmot Precip Eco JacketUnlike many lightweight rain jackets. this one will actually keep you dry during long days on the trail.
Rain PantsThe North Face Venture 2 Waterproof Overtrousers Essential for those heavy English downpours!
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogSuper comfortable to change into after walking in boots all day!
Hiking BootsSalomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSinner Thunder Crystal Revo SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaRobelli BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Tent in the dark while camping on the South Downs Way

Camping Gear

Realistically speaking, it is not easy to camp on the Cotswold Way. There are very few official campsites along the route, meaning you’ll have to detour quite a bit or wild camp on private property if you want to sleep in your tent most nights. That said, it is certainly possible, given you do some advance planning. For the hearty souls who want to sleep out under the stars, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive kit list.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

Many people choose to camp along the Cotswold Way 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. Even if you choose not to camp every night, this is a great piece of gear that gives you more freedom when it comes to your sleeping and eating options. This MSR Kit is super lightweight, easy to pack, and convenient for all of those al fresco dinners and trailside coffee breaks.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
TentMSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking TentThis is the best-designed tent on the market. The genius freestanding rain cover allows you to pack up all of your gear and tent while still being sheltered- perfect for rainy mornings!
Sleeping BagVango Treklite Lightweight Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the Ultra 600 version.
Sleeping PadTherm-a-Rest Ultralight Camping 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. The pump sack makes inflating it a breeze, too!
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowIf you’re camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket Rocket 2Ian has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Broadway Tower, on the Cotswold Way
Looking out towards the magical Broadway Tower and the Cotswold hills beyond.

Hostel/Bunkhouse Gear

Just like with camping, hostels and bunkhouses are quite limited along the Cotswold Way. 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 Earplugs

Hiking is infinitely less fun when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. 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 RecommendationWhy We Love It
EarplusMack’s Silicone EarplugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Eye MaskAlaska Bear Silk Sleep MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
Sleep SheetScottish Silkworm Sleeping Bag LinerA nice item to have for nights in bunkhouses and hostels.
Travel TowelSea to Summit Drylite TowelNot all of the bunkhouses along the Cotswold Way provide towels, so it’s nice to have a backup.
Sandals/SlippersCrocs Classic ClogLightweight and super comfortable!
Green fields on the Cotswold Way

Conclusion

The Cotswold Way is a challenging, yet approachable walk for hikers of all ability levels. The dramatic natural beauty and many places of historical interest will *almost* completely take your mind off your tired feet. The gear you choose to pack (and leave behind) will be essential in ensuring that you have everything you need to stay comfortable, prepared, and injury-free without carrying a bigger rucksack than needed. Happy trails!

Also be sure to check out our Cotswold Way Maps and Routes post!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in central Kentucky, is one of America’s most unique national parks. The park preserves the longest cave system in the world, known as Mammoth Cave,…

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in central Kentucky, is one of America’s most unique national parks. The park preserves the longest cave system in the world, known as Mammoth Cave, which contains a staggering 400+ miles of underground tunnels. In addition to the cave system, the park also preserves a variety of landscapes including rivers, dense forest, and an incredible diversity of animal and plant life.

The only national park in Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is easily accessed from many major cities in the mid-west and south. Given this, we think the best way to experience Mammoth Cave National Park is to spend a night sleeping in your tent or RV, where you’ll get to experience this incredible environment first hand. 

The park features plenty of camping opportunities, from the three developed campgrounds, to the thirteen backcountry campsites, as well as opportunities for camping along one of the park’s beautiful rivers. In addition to the campgrounds founds within Mammoth Cave, there are also great options for RV and car camping, and a few free campsites just outside the park’s boundary. Needless to say, you’ll be spoiled for options.

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

In this Post

 

Mammoth Cave National Park Campgrounds

Mammoth Cave National Park is well served by a variety of campgrounds. Visitors are likely to access the park from the south, where the main visitor center is located. The park is generally divided into a northern and southern section, with the Green River serving as the dividing line. Campgrounds are provided in both sections, with the majority of the backcountry campsites located in the less-developed northern section of Mammoth Cave.

There are three “front country” developed campgrounds located in Mammoth Cave National Park. These campgrounds are well dispersed and provide visitors with great camping options regardless of which section of Mammoth Cave they plan on exploring.

In addition, there are thirteen backcountry campgrounds located in the wilderness of Mammoth Cave. These backcountry campsites are concentrated in the north-west section of Mammoth Cave and can be accessed by a number of excellent hiking trails. Finally, those who plan to camp along either the Green or Nolan Rivers will have nearly unlimited options in the national park.

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

Map of campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park

Campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Of the developed campgrounds, only the Houchin Ferry Campground is open year round. Both Mammoth Cave and Maple Springs Campgrounds are closed seasonally from December 1st – February 28th.

Keep reading to learn about reservations and permits for camping in Mammoth Cave National Park. 

Reservations & Permits

Reservations are required for all of the campsites within Mammoth Cave National Park. This includes the park’s three developed campgrounds as well as the thirteen backcountry sites. To make a reservation at any of the campgrounds in Mammoth Cave, head over to Recreation.gov, which handles all booking for the national park.

Reservations are generally available on a 6-month rolling basis, with availability opening up at 10am ET for 6 months out. We highly recommend making your reservation as early as possible, especially on busy summer weekends, as all of the campgrounds in the park are known to fill up.

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

The Mammoth Cave and Maple Springs Campgrounds only accept reservations from March 1st – November 30th each year, while the more basic Houchin Ferry Campground accepts reservations year round.

Boats along the Green River.

 

For the adventurous campers out there who hope to plan a backcountry camping or riverside camping trip in Mammoth Cave National Park you’ll also need to secure a permit in advance.

The thirteen backcountry campsites in the national park have an online reservation system that requires advance booking. This can be done online through Recreation.gov or by visiting the Mammoth Cave Campground information kiosk. Permits cost $10 regardless of the number of nights you plan on camping. We recommend utilizing Recreation.gov for this as you’ll have a better chance of getting your desired campground if you book in advance.

Click here to reserve you backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park

For riverside camping in Mammoth Cave you do not need advance reservations, but a permit is required. This can be obtained the day of your trip for free at the Mammoth Cave Campground Kiosk.

Learn more about backcountry & riverside camping in Mammoth Cave in this section.

What to bring on your Mammoth Cave National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Mammoth Cave National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Shenandoah:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for whipping up classic campsite dinners.
  • Tick repellent– Ticks are common throughout this part of Kentucky, and while it is always a good idea to wear long pants, this tick repellent from Ben’s is worth applying when out hiking or camping.
  • Portable water container – Save yourself the countless trips to the water tap and bring one of these.
  • Cooler – The hot summer temperatures make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Mammoth Cave National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Mammoth Cave Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Mammoth Cave.

When to Camp in Mammoth Cave National Park

Only the Houchin Ferry Campground in Mammoth Cave is open year-round, with the other two developed campgrounds closed seasonally during the winter months from December 1st – February 28th. Peak season for camping in Mammoth Cave National Park is generally during the summer months from May – September.

Winter in Mammoth Cave brings colder weather, with average daily temperatures from December – February in the 35 – 40 degree range. The park warms considerably heading into the Spring with average daily highs reaching into the 60s by April. Summer brings hot and humid days, although still a very pleasant time to camp. 

We think the best time to camp in Mammoth Cave National Park is from April – October when temperatures are warm. Summer months will be hotter, but you’ll be able to take advantage of the many things to do in the national park.

Find more information on the weather conditions you can expect to encounter in Mammoth Cave National Park here. 

Autumn colors in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Autumn can be a lovely time to camp in Mammoth Cave National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Developed Campgrounds

There are three developed campgrounds located in Mammoth Cave National Park. These campgrounds are easily accessed via the park’s excellent road network and offer a variety of camping experiences.

Keep reading for all the details. 

Mammoth Cave Campground

Number of Sites: 111 sites
Fee: $20/night for individual sites // $50/night for full hookup RV sites
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 38′.
Reservations: Available from March 1st – November 30th. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open from March 1st – November 30th.
More Information

The Mammoth Cave Campground

Mammoth Cave Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Mammoth Cave Campground is the largest and most popular campground in Mammoth Cave National Park. Located adjacent to the visitor center and hub of activity for the park, this is a very convenient place to spend the night.

The campground is perfect for those looking to take an iconic cave tour, hike the Green River Bluffs trail, or tackle the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail. Be sure to visit the nearby Mammoth Cave Visitor Center for an excellent introduction to the park and great information on all Mammoth Cave has to offer.

The Mammoth Cave Campground features 111 campsites that can accommodate tents, RVs, and even some larger groups. 37 of the campsites are tent-only, while there are four group campsites that can accommodate up to 16 people each. The remaining sites can accommodate both tents and RVs, and will be perfect for most campers.

The campground is organized into three loops, with each loop featuring restrooms and drinking water. Nearby you’ll find the Caver’s Camp Store, which stocks essentials that you may have forgotten.

Campsites at the Mammoth Cave Campground are reservable up to six months in advance during peak season, from March 1st – November 30th each year.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Mammoth Cave Campground

Check out the map linked below for a detailed map of the campground as well as more information on the features of each campsite.

Map of the Mammoth Cave Campground.

Map of the Mammoth Cave Campground. Courtesy of NPS.

 

Maple Springs Group Campground

Number of Sites: 8 sites, including two with electric/water hookups
Fee: $25 – $35/night depending on hookups
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 40′.
Reservations: Available from March 1st – November 30th. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open from March 1st – November 30th.
More Information

Picnic tables at the Maple Springs Campground in Mammoth Cave National Park

Maple Springs Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Maple Springs Campground in Mammoth Cave National Park features eight campsites that can accommodate large groups as well as equestrian users. Located on the north side of the Green River, this is an excellent campground for those looking to escape from the busy visitor center area.

Maple Springs is perfect for groups hoping to hike on the Sal Hollow and Buffalo Creek Trail or visit the historic Good Spring Church.

The eight campsites at Maple Springs are designed to accommodate a variety of users. There is a single group site for those without horses that can accommodate up to 16 campers, as well as equestrian group sites both with and without electric hookups. Head over to Recreation.gov at the link below to learn more about the specific sites and to reserve.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Maple Springs Campground

All of the campsites at Maple Springs include a picnic table, fire ring and access to potable water.

Campsites at the Maple Springs Campground are reservable up to six months in advance during peak season, from March 1st – November 30th each year.

 

Houchin Ferry Campground

Number of Sites: 12 tent-only sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Not allowed.
Reservations: Required year round. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

Tent at the Houchin Ferry Campground

Houchin Ferry Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Houchin Ferry Campground is located in Mammoth Cave’s far northwest corner and is easily accessed from the nearby town of Brownsville, KY. Located on the Green River, the Houchin Ferry Campground is small and only accommodates tents, making it the perfect rustic escape.

Those camping here will be well positioned for a boat trip on the Green River and still only a short drive from the main visitor center and park attractions.

Houchin Ferry features 12 tent-only campsites tucked into a serene location along the river. The campsites all feature fire rings, picnic tables, and easy access to drinking water. Houchin Ferry is the only campground in Mammoth Cave National Park that is open year-round, making it attractive for the hearty winter campers out there!

Campsites at the Houchin Ferry Campground are reservable up to six months in advance at the link below.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Houchin Ferry Campground

 

Backcountry camping in Mammoth Cave National Park

In addition to the developed campgrounds described in the section above, Mammoth Cave National Park also provides incredible opportunities for the adventurous campers out there. The park features miles of hiking trails that connect a system of 13 backcountry campsites and also allows for backcountry camping along the Green and Nolan Rivers for those on a float trip.

The primitive nature of these campsites means you won’t find any bathrooms, water taps, or other amenities that the developed campgrounds in the park offer. In exchange for roughing it you’ll be treated to a solitude only possible by venturing off the beaten path!

The National Park Service publishes an excellent Backcountry Map & Guide available here. 

Keep reading to learn more about backcountry camping in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Riverside Camping in Mammoth Cave

A unique way to experience Mammoth Cave National Park is to take a river camping trip along the Green or Nolan Rivers. These beautiful rivers provide a level of solitude that is difficult to come by in other sections of the park. Camping along either of these rivers couldn’t be easier, just be sure to follow these simple regulations:

  • Obtain a free riverside camping permit at the Mammoth Cave Campground prior to setting out.
  • Camping is permitted on the river shores as well as islands within the park boundary.
    • The exception is that camping is prohibited within the Green River Ferry, Houchin Ferry and Dennison Ferry Day Use Area. Camp at least 1/2 mile from any of these locations.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

The NPS also recommends checking water levels before setting out on a riverside camping trip in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Check out all the details on riverside camping from the NPS here.

Backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave

In addition to backcountry riverside camping, Mammoth Cave National Park also allows for traditional backcountry camping at a series of 13 backcountry campsites. These campsites are generally located in the less-visited northwest section of the park and allow visitors to explore a quieter side of Mammoth Cave.

Check out the map below for the location of all thirteen campsites. 

Map of backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Map of backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The campsites must be reserved in advance and users are required to obtain a backcountry use permit for any backpacking trip in Mammoth Cave. The permits cost $10 per group, regardless of the number of nights you plan on camping. The full list of backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park is below:

  • Second Creek
  • First Creek 1
  • First Creek 2
  • Three Springs
  • Ferguson
  • Collie Ridge
  • McCoy Hollow
  • Bluffs
  • Sal Hollow
  • Raymer Hollow
  • Homestead
  • Turnhole Bend
  • White Oak

To reserve your campsites and backcountry use permit you’ll head over to Recreation.gov, which has a full itinerary builder for Mammoth Cave.

Reserve your backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park here.

Backcountry campsite in Mammoth Cave National Park

A backcountry campsite in Mammoth Cave. Photo credit NPS/Mary Schubert.

 

Mammoth Cave National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Mammoth Cave National Park. First, it is important to familiarize yourself with the general camping regulations in the park:

  • For developed campground check-in time is 2pm and check-out is by 11am
  • Generators are permitted from 8am – 8pm at developed campgrounds
  • Quiet hours are 10pm – 6am

For a full list of camping regulations in Mammoth Cave National Park be sure to read the sections below and find the full list of regulations here.

Campfires in Mammoth Cave

Fires are allowed in both the developed campgrounds as well as the 13 established backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave. Campfires must be contained in the provided fire rings and always remember to never leave a fire unattended.

It is also important to not bring any wood with you into Mammoth Cave National Park. Firewood can carry invasive pests that can cause serious damage to the fragile ecosystem. Firewood is available for purchase at the Caver’s Camp Store near the visitor center.

Campfire in a grate.

Fires are permitted in the provided fire grates in Mammoth Cave National Park.

 

Wildlife

Mammoth Cave National Park is home to a huge diversity of wildlife that makes this one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Many of these unique species live deep underground in the cave system and have unique adaptations found nowhere else in the world.

In addition, there are a few animals and insects that campers should be especially aware of:

  • Ticks: Ticks are found throughout Mammoth Cave National Park and campers should be on especially high alert. We suggest wearing light colored clothing, long pants, and frequently check yourself and any pets for ticks.
  • Snakes: Venomous snakes do inhabit the national park, although they tend to be more active at night. Always keep an eye out and leave any snakes you do see undisturbed.
  • Bats: Bats thrive in Mammoth Cave National Park, and while most are harmless it is important to be aware of any signs of rabies. Always leave any bats you encounter alone, especially if they are behaving strangely.

You can find more information on the wildlife of Mammoth Cave National Park here.

 

Pets

Mammoth Cave permits pets within the National Park, although with several strict guidelines as outlined below.

  • Pets must be leashed at all times.
  • Pets are allowed on all trails in the park.
  • Pets are not allowed in any park building or in the caves.
  • Always properly dispose of your pet’s waste.

If you do bring your pet and plan on visiting a section of the park where they are not allowed, the Mammoth Cave Lodge provides a pet boarding service. 

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

Dog walking on a trail.

 

Where to get supplies

Unlike many national parks, Mammoth Cave has easy access to several nearby towns with plenty of services. This makes planning a camping trip here convenient, as you’ll have no problem stocking up on supplies before your trip. Check out your best options to pick up camping supplies near Mammoth Cave National Park below:

Camping near Mammoth Cave National Park

The campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park all provide excellent options for your perfect camping trip. However, it is always possible that you may not be able to secure a campsite within the park boundaries or you may want more amenities than what the NPS campgrounds offer.

If that is the case, don’t fret, as there are plenty of great camping options outside of Mammoth Cave National Park. Check out your best bets for RV campgroundscar camping, and free camping near Mammoth Cave National Park below.

RV campgrounds

Those searching for RV campgrounds just outside of Mammoth Cave National Park will have several great options. We’ve organized the campgrounds by their geographic location, either north of the park, or in the southeast of the park near Cave City.

Keep reading to learn more.

RV parked near Mammoth Cave

 

RV Campgrounds near Cave City/Southeast of Mammoth Cave National Park

Rock Cabin Camping

Number of sites: Plenty
Fee: $25 – $33/night for RV sites and $18/night for tent sites
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 270-773-4740.
Pets: Allowed

Located just outside the park boundary, Rock Cabin Camping is a basic but well run campground. Here you can choose from basic tent sites to full hookup RV sites, all at very reasonable prices. There aren’t tons of amenities at the campground, but it does get rave review for the incredibly friendly and helpful owners.

 

Diamond Caverns RV Resort

Number of sites: 68 sites
Fee: $38 – $65/night depending on hookups, RV size.
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

The Diamond Caverns RV Resort is located immediately south of Mammoth Cave National Park and is just a 15 minute drive from the visitor center. This is a large campground which can accommodate all variety of tents and RVs. Amenities include a swimming pool, laundry facilities, WiFi, and a playground. This is a busier campground so we recommend it for those who aren’t looking for a rustic experience.

 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park – Mammoth Cave

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $36 – $131/night depending on site and amenities
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Located just 15 minutes from the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center, Jellystone Mammoth Cave is a great option for full service family camping. Here you’ll find tons of family-friendly activities including a huge water slide, jumping pillows, mini-golf, and more. While the campground is certainly more costly than most, it may be worth it if you’ll take advantage of everything on offer.

 

Horse Cave KOA

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $38 – $50/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

The Horse Cave KOA Campground is located a bit further from Mammoth Cave National Park than the other options in this section, but it provides a great option for those looking for a predictable camping experience. Equipped with all the amenities KOA’s are known for, you’ll enjoy a swimming pool, basketball court, laundry facilities and WiFi.

 

RV Campgrounds north of Mammoth Cave National Park

Double J Stables and Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 270-286-8167.
Pets: Allowed

The Double J Stables and Campground is located immediately north of Mammoth Cave National Park and provides a great campground for both equestrian users as well as those looking for a relaxing place to spend the night. The campground can accommodate RVs with full hookups as well as simple tent camping, all at very affordable rates. Amenities are basic, but include WiFi, fire rings, picnic tables, a playground, and more. Highly recommended, especially those interested in horseback riding in Mammoth Cave!

 

Mammoth Cave Horse Camp

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $16 – $26/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

As the name suggests, Mammoth Cave Horse Camp features campsites that can accommodate anyone traveling with a horse. However, even for those who are just looking for a great campground, Mammoth Cave Horse Camp is a great option. Located on the northwest side of the park, this is a perfect place to spend the night before setting out to explore this less visited section of Mammoth Cave. Affordable rates and friendly staff earn this campground high marks!

 

Car camping sites

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Mammoth Cave National Park you’ll want to check out Nolan Lake State Park, described below. In addition to the campground here, 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 Mammoth Cave.

Car camping site near Mammoth Cave National Park.

 

Nolan Lake State Park

Number of Sites: 32 full hookup site + 27 primitive tent sites
Fee: $16 – $32/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, hookups available at specific sites.
Reservations: Recommended. Reserve here. 
Pets: Allowed.

Nolan Lake State Park is conveniently located just a few miles north of Mammoth Cave National Park. The large campground here can accommodate both RVs and car campers with a variety of campsites available. You’ll have great lake views and be able to enjoy swimming, mountain biking, and easy access to the surrounding area.

 

Free camping near Mammoth Cave

Your final option for camping near Mammoth Cave National Park is to try and find a free campsite in the surrounding area. While certainly not as easy in this part of the country when compared to the abundant free camping available in the western US, you’ll have at least one good option.

Located approximately 30 minutes from Mammoth Cave, Thelma Stovall Park in Munfordville, KY generally allows free camping for a few nights. While not officially listed on the City’s website, there are numerous reports on FreeCampsites.net that camping is permitted here at no cost.

We recommend inquiring with the City prior to camping here.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Mammoth Cave 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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South Downs Way Packing List

The South Downs Way is 100 miles (160 km) of pure delight. One of England’s acclaimed National Trails, the South Downs Way meanders past dramatic landforms like the Seven Sisters…

The South Downs Way is 100 miles (160 km) of pure delight. One of England’s acclaimed National Trails, the South Downs Way meanders past dramatic landforms like the Seven Sisters cliffs, Bronze Age ruins, picturesque countryside, seaside vistas, and storybook villages. Although it’s known for being relatively easy and enjoying some of England’s sunniest weather, this is no walk in the park. You’ll need to be prepared for all sorts of weather, and well as some challenging hills and tough underfoot conditions.

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 South Downs Way 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 South Downs Way Walk!

In this post:

Looking down at the incredible Dyke Valley, South Downs Way
Looking down at the incredible Dyke Valley.

Packing Basics for the South Downs Way

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the South Downs Way, such as your 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. Despite all of those factors, there are some universal rules that all hikers should follow when putting together their kit for the South Downs Way.

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 South Downs Way will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the South Downs Way

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the South Downs Way. 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.

Read More: South Downs Way Maps and Routes

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

Footwear on the South Downs Way

One of the most challenging aspects of the South Downs Way is the strain it puts on your feet. The combination of following many miles on old drover roads, plus the rocky chalk landscape conspire to create conditions that will leave your feet feeling sore and tired. Add in some moisture, and you’ve got a real recipe for trouble. While some soreness is inevitable with longs days of walking, blisters, bruising, and extreme discomfort don’t have to be. Therefore, it is imperative that you test out your footwear ahead of time and make sure you break it in!

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the South Downs Way, 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. You’ll likely need to go up half a size to account for thicker socks and/or swollen feet. Some people may prefer the ankle support of traditional hiking boots, while others may seek out the cushion and breathability of trail shoes. Again, it’s all about trying a variety of options and finding the best one for you.

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, 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.

Others prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple of 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 South Downs Way journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the South Downs Way. 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.

If you need more underfoot padding, try using socks with extra cushioning or even some custom insoles.

Red and white Beachy Head Lighthouse, South Downs Way
The iconic Beachy Head Lighthouse is a welcome sight for walkers.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! Even though the South Downs Way passes through one of the driest, sunniest parts of England, let’s face it you’re still in England, and you should expect rain at some point on your trek.

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.

Man standing in red rain jacket on the South Downs Way
Good waterproofs will keep you smiling throughout your walk!

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your South Downs Way 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: Black Diamond Alpine Flz Trekking Poles

The South Downs Way has the reputation for being one of the “easier” of the U.K.’s National Trails, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it will be a walk in the park. There are a LOT of hills on this route, and the constant up and down can really wreak havoc on knees and hips after awhile. Trekking poles make a huge difference in relieving the impact on your joints, not to mention they also make climbing hills feel much easier. They’re also great for saving ankles and helping with stability on loose, rocky trails (which there are plenty of on the SDW). We love this Black Diamond pair because they are sturdy, lightweight, easily packable, and the cork handles fend off sweat and blisters much better than the other styles.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Multi-ToolBibury 21-in-1 Multi-ToolPerfect for cutting cheese or opening cans when you need some trail-side snacks!
First Aid KitSurviveware Small First Aid KitA 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. We like the labeled compartments and waterproof case on this one.
Hydration BladderPlatypus Big ZipWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3-liter version.
Small DaypackDeuter Speed Light 20An optional item that is great for walking around town. Deuter makes one that is versatile and good quality.
Pack CoverSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Rain CoverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the South Downs Way!
Men’s BackpackOsprey Atmos AG 50While backpacks are a very personal item, we find Osprey to make by far the most comfortable packs on the market. This 50L model will work for minimalist campers or those staying indoors. W
Women’s BackpackOsprey Aura AG 50One of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the ‘anti-gravity’ mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking PolesBlack Diamond Alpine FlzThese can help take the load off your knees and they’re great on steep sections.
Travel TowelEono Microfiber TowelGreat to have in hostels and campsite showers.
Headlamp/ Head torchBlack Diamond StormGreat headtorch with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry BagsEarth Pak 10L or 20LKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour! These are also great for keeping your kit organized and packed efficiently.
Hiking GaitersPeter Storm Ankle GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails and they’ll keep out stones, dirt, and gravel.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug SprayBen’s Insect RepellentYou’ll be glad you brought this when the mozzies or midges come out.
Toilet Paper and TrowelThe TentLab Ultralight TrowelAs any hiker will tell you, it’s always better to be prepared and Leave No Trace!
A sunny section of path near Winchester.
A sunny section of path near Winchester.

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any South Downs Way 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 South Downs Way 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 South Downs Way 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 ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Guide BookCicerone: Walking the South Downs WayWe love Cicerone guides for their informative, yet straightforward advice and Kev Reynold’s is one of the best guidebook authors around.
Ear PlugsMack’s Ear PlugsEssential for a good night’s sleep! We find the silicone ones to stay in place and block out noise best.
Sleeping MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in hostels or campgrounds on the South Downs Way.
Travel AdapterLYSEDa All in One USB Travel AdapterIf you’re coming from abroad, this is going to be necessary. This one is super compact and the two USB ports are very handy!
Digital WatchCasio Classic Sport WatchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times. This one is a great value and nearly indestructible.
CameraSony Alpha 6000Optional, but this compact camera takes beautiful photos and is easy to use.
Battery BackupAnker Powercore 10,000Great for charging electronics when you don’t have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable SoapCoghlan’s Camp 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. They can be repurposed many times to minimize plastic waste.
Coast to Coast Walk women's packing list

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for over a week 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 South Downs Way Walk. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring.

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Berghaus Deluge Rain Trousers 

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 Berghaus rain pants are simple, effective, comfortable, and easy to get on and off over boots. Check them out here:

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go SportThese are worth every penny when it comes to staying comfortable on the trail. They are quick-drying and antimicrobial meaning you can just bring a few pairs and wash them in the sink as you 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 Bra (1)Under Armour Mid Crossback This is a good example of something breathable and comfortable that you can wear all day.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Smartwool NTS 250 Base LayerA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pants (1)Berghaus Amlia Walking TrousersStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Shorts (1)The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 These shorts are super versatile and durable! The soft, wide waistband works great underneath a rucksack’s hip belt.
Down JacketRab Microlight AlpineLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain JacketMarmot PreCip Eco JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain PantsBerghaus Deluge For those heavy English downpours!
Hiking BootsKeen Targhee Mid Height Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSinner Polarised SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re outside all day. And these are stylish too!
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 in the summertime, but can be nice to have in tempermental weather.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.

Sandals/Camp Shoes Crocs Classic ClogGreat to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaRobelli 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 eight days 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 South Downs Way 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 ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring just 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Boot Socks In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Icebreaker 200 OasisThis is a very versatile baselayer that works great under an outer layer or on its own.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking Pants (1 pair)The North Face Exploration Convertible TrousersThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking Shorts (1 pair)Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsYou can skip these if you’re using our recommended convertible trousers, but it can be nice to have an extra set of bottoms and these are so packable that you really can’t go wrong!
Down JacketRab Cirrus Flex HoodyLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain Jacket Marmot Precip Eco JacketUnlike many lightweight rain jackets. this one will actually keep you dry during long days on the trail.
Rain PantsThe North Face Venture 2 Waterproof Overtrousers Essential for those heavy English downpours!
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogSuper comfortable to change into after walking in boots all day!
Hiking BootsSalomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSinner Thunder Crystal Revo SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaRobelli BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Tent in the dark while camping on the South Downs Way

Camping Gear

Camping on the South Downs Way is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. Campgrounds along the trail are plentiful, convenient, and generally quite comfortable. In fact, camping is the only way to avoid walking several extra miles in detours over the course of your trek! With the right gear and manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the South Downs Way with your own tent.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

Many people choose to camp along the South Downs Way 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 RecommendationWhy We Love It
TentMSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking TentThis is the best designed tent on the market. The genius freestanding rain cover allows you to pack up all of your gear and tent while still being sheltered- perfect for rainy mornings!
Sleeping BagVango Treklite Lightweight Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the Ultra 600 version.
Sleeping PadTherm-a-Rest Ultralight Camping Padf 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. The pump sack makes inflating it a breeze, too!
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowIf you’re camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket Rocket 2Ian has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Person outside a stone cottage

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 Earplugs

Hiking is infinitely less fun when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. There are many wonderful hostels along the South Downs Way, 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 RecommendationWhy We Love It
EarplusMack’s Silicone EarplugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Eye MaskAlaska Bear Silk Sleep MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
Sleep SheetScottish Silkworm Sleeping Bag LinerA nice item to have for nights in bunkhouses and hostels.
Travel TowelSea to Summit Drylite TowelNot all of the bunkhouses along the South Downs Way provide towels, so it’s nice to have a backup.
Sandals/SlippersCrocs Classic ClogLightweight and super comfortable!
Trail sign on the South Downs Way

Conclusion

The South Downs Way is a challenging, yet approachable walk for hikers of all ability levels. The dramatic natural beauty and many places of historical interest will *almost* completely take your mind off your tired feet. The gear choose to pack (and leave behind) will be essential in ensuring that you have everything you need to stay comfortable, prepared, and injury-free without carrying a bigger rucksack than needed. Happy trails!

Also be sure to check out our South Downs Way Maps & Routes post!

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Fife Coastal Path | Maps & Routes

The Fife Coastal Path is one of Scotland’s most beautiful walking paths. The route traces the coastline of Fife and takes in stunning coastal scenery, beautiful Scottish villages, and historical…

The Fife Coastal Path is one of Scotland’s most beautiful walking paths. The route traces the coastline of Fife and takes in stunning coastal scenery, beautiful Scottish villages, and historical sites that bring to life the past of this unique area. The Fife Coastal Path begins in Kincardine in the Firth of Forth and meanders its way to Newburgh in the Firth of Tay. The walk is typically completed in 7 – 10 days, with eight days being the most common.

The walk visits many villages along its path, providing for plenty of accommodation options for the weary walker. You’ll find an abundance of B&Bs, small hotels, and even a few campgrounds along the route.

This guide will provide an introduction to the Fife Coastal Path through in-depth route maps, navigational resources, elevation profiles, and more!

Let’s get started. 

Windmill in Saint Monans on the Fife Coastal Path

 

In this Post

 

Where is the Fife Coastal Path?

The Fife Coastal Path takes walkers along the coastline of the Fife region of Scotland and connects Kincardine with Newburgh. The route has been expanded over the years, and makes for an excellent introduction to walking in Scotland. The walk is traditionally done from south to north, beginning in the Firth of Forth and finishing in the Firth of Tay, although there is nothing to prevent you from walking in the opposite direction.

The path will take walkers along the beautiful Scottish coastline and also provide historical context to this area of Scotland with visits to many small towns and villages.

Getting to/from the start and finish of the Fife Coastal Path is relatively straightforward, with easy public transport connections from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Keep in mind that there are no rail connections to Kincardine or Newburgh, so your journey will have to include a bus ride. For walkers from the rest of the UK, you’ll likely secure transit to Edinburgh before continuing on to reach the Fife Coastal Path.

Edinburgh is the closest large city to the start of the walk in Kincardine, while Perth in the north is closest to Newburgh.

Overview map of the Fife Coastal Path

The Fife Coastal Path takes walkers from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay. (Click to enlarge).

 

Between Kincardine and Newburgh, the Fife Coastal Path visits some quintessential Scottish sights and provides some excellent coastal walking. Highlights of the path include a visit to the Aberdour Castle, St. Andrews with its world famous golf course, and incredible opportunities for marine wildlife spotting.

The Fife Coastal Path is typically walked in eight stages, although it is very popular to break up the walk into segments and complete it over a number of visits to Scotland. The route rarely strays far from civilization, which provides for plenty of accommodation options as well as other basic services. This allows walkers to minimize how much they must carry, as a cozy B&B or pub are often only a short stroll away.

Below is the standard eight day itinerary for the Fife Coastal Path:

  • Stage 1: Kincardine to Limekilns
  • Stage 2: Limekilns to Burntisland
  • Stage 3: Burntisland to Buckhaven
  • Stage 4: Buckhaven to Elie
  • Stage 5: Elie to Kingsbarns
  • Stage 6: Kingsbarns to Leuchars
  • Stage 7: Leuchars to Wormit
  • Stage 8: Wormit to Newburgh

Fife Coastal Path Map

Map of the Fife Coastal Path. (Click to enlarge).

 

Unlike many of the National Trails in England and Scotland, there are few alternate routes along the Fife Coastal Path. Generally speaking, walkers will have little opportunity to stray from the main route in search of variants or alternates.

However, there are a few exceptions to this along the Fife Coastal path, mostly encountered in areas where tides play a role in whether a particular section can be walked. In addition, the Fife Coastal Path also features a short section which can add some excitement to the walk for those with a sense of adventure and the necessary skill and equipment.

This section, known as the Elie Chain Walk, is a short 0.5 km ‘via ferrata’ where walkers traverse seaside cliffs with the help of eight fixed chains. It is important to check the tides before planning on tackling the Elie Chain Walk, as they will influence whether the section is passable or not.

We recommend wearing a helmet and only attempting this section of you have some experience scrambling before. Check out this excellent guide before setting out. 

St. Andrews on the Fife Coastal Path

 

Interactive Fife Coastal Path map

The interactive Fife Coastal Path 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 Fife Coastal Path?

Most sources say the Fife Coastal Path is between 116 – 117 miles long, or 186 – 188 kilometers long. These are certainly accurate estimates, however we measure (via GPS routes) the Fife Coastal Path to be 184.7 kilometers or 114.8 miles long from Kincardine to Newburgh. 

While we may pride ourselves in determining the exact distance of the walk, the reality is that it will have little practical value for the average walker. Given the possibilities for short detours into the various villages along the path, a quick stop-off at the local pub, and countless other opportunities to explore your surroundings you’ll certainly end up walking a bit further. 

Yet knowing the approximate distances between stopping points on the Fife Coastal Path is very useful information for planning your own itinerary. You can get a sense of the distance you’ll need to cover in any given day and be prepared before setting foot on the path. The two maps below provide just that information, with approximate stage distances for the Fife Coastal Path shown in both miles and kilometers.

Remember that these are just estimates, but they should be useful in helping you plan your own Fife Coastal Path adventure.

Map of the Fife Coastal Path with stage distances.

Stage distances on the Fife Coastal Path in kilometers. Click to enlarge.

 

Map of the Fife Coastal Path with stage distances in miles.

Stage distances on the Fife Coastal Path in miles. Click to enlarge.

 

Fife Coastal Path Elevation Profile

The Fife Coastal Path certainly doesn’t have the elevation profile of a high-alpine traverse. Following the shore for much of the route, the path has its ups and downs but for the most part is a relatively easy walk. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared!

Over the length of the entire Fife Coastal Path you can expect to climb approximately 3,200 meters or 10,400 feet. Anyone who has completed a coastal walk before knows that the undulating nature of these paths can add some real difficulty!

As you’ll see on the elevation profiles below, the Fife Coastal Path rarely strays far from sea-level over the first seven stages. Then, on your last day, a single large climb dominates the stage and most of the elevation gained on the entire walk. The climb on stage eight takes walker’s up the shoulder of Norman’s Law, but will but shouldn’t cause you any issues.

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, provide an overview of what each stage of the Fife Coastal Path entails in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 8-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.

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 stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from Elie to Kingsbarns is rather long in distance, while the stage from Wormit to Newburgh has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the Fife Coastal Path be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.

Elevation profile for the Fife Coastal Path

Elevation profile of the Fife Coastal Path in kilometers and meters. (Click to enlarge).

 

Elevation profile for the Fife Coastal Path in miles and feet.

Elevation profile of the Fife Coastal in miles and feet. (Click to enlarge).

 

Which maps should I carry on the Fife Coastal Path?

The Fife Coastal Path is one of Scotland’s Great Trails, meaning you can generally expect the path will be well-marked and easy to follow. However, it can still be quite easy to get turned around, off-course, or generally lost on the walk given the number of intersecting trails and footpaths you’ll encounter.

For this reason, we recommend that all walkers carry some form of navigation with them on their walk.

Our preference is generally to rely on GPS maps on our smartphones when out on a multi-day walk, and we can highly recommend this method for most walkers. All you’ll need is a GPX file for the route and a GPS app. We like Gaia GPS, although there are many great options available.

In addition to digital navigation methods, we also recommend you bring physical maps and a guidebook along. There is simply no replacement for a physical map, since you never know when you may find yourself with a dead battery rendering your GPS app useless!

The Fife Coastal Path is well covered by Ordnance Survey Explorer maps, and you’ll need the following set to cover the entire route:

Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps for the Fife Coastal Path

These detailed maps provide a 1:25,000 scale and include the entire route of the Fife Coastal Path. You’ll need the following three maps to cover the entire walk:

In addition, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

In addition to maps, we always recommend bringing a good guidebook along on your walk. Your best bet is outlined below:

Fife Coastal Path – Rucksack Readers
There are only a few guidebooks available for the Fife Coastal Path, and this version from Rucksack Readers gets the best reviews. It comes complete with daily route descriptions, accommodation options, and thoughtful commentary on the walk. Highly recommended.

 

Stage-by-stage maps for the Fife Coastal Path

The Fife Coastal Path is typically walked over eight days, with plenty of options to lengthen or shorten the duration.  The maps below provide a general outline for each of these eight stages and include distance and elevation change for each stage.

Stage 1: Kincardine to Limekilns

Distance: 17.9 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +298 m / -299 m

Stage 1 of the Fife Coastal Path from Kincardine to Limekilns

Stage-1-Kincardine to Limekilns

 

Stage 2: Limekilns to Burntisland

Distance: 27.3 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +468 m / -461 m

Map of Stage 2 of the Fife Coastal Path from Limekilns to Burntisland

Stage 2 – Limekilns to Burntisland

 

Stage 3: Burntisland to Buckhaven

Distance: 23.35 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +457 m / -441 m

Map of Stage 3 of the Fife Coastal Path from Burntisland to Buckhaven

Stage 3 – Burntisland to Buckhaven

 

Stage 4: Buckhaven to Elie

Distance: 19.22 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +257 m / -282 m

Map of Stage 4 of the Fife Coastal Path from Buckhaven to Elie

Stage 4 – Buckhaven to Elie

 

Stage 5: Elie to Kingsbarns

Distance: 25.99 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +353 m / -351 m

Map of Stage 5 of the Fife Coastal Path from Elie to Kingsbarns

Stage 5 – Elie to Kingsbarns

 

Stage 6: Kingsbarns to Leuchars

Distance: 21.74 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +367 m / -360 m

Map of Stage 6 of the Fife Coastal Path from Kingsbarns to Leuchars

Stage 6 – Kingsbarns to Leuchars

 

Stage 7: Leuchars to Wormit

Distance: 23.51 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +312 m / -301 m

Map of Stage 7 of the Fife Coastal Path from Leuchars to Wormit

Stage 7 – Leuchars to Wormit

 

Stage 8: Wormit to Newburgh

Distance: 25.7 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +680 m / -668 m

Map of Stage 8 of the Fife Coastal Path from Wormit to Newburgh

Stage 8 – Wormit to Newburgh

 

Fife Coastal Path GPS/GPX

If you are interested in getting access to the GPS data for the Fife Coastal Path you’ll have a variety of options available. The first, and what we recommend, is to use the ThunderForest Outdoor layer in any GPS mapping software. This basemap has the full Fife Coastal Path shown, making it easy to follow. It’s what we’ve used to create the maps in this post!

Alternatively, the Fife Coast & Countryside Trust includes mapping information on their website here. Click on each stage to view the map for that section of the walk.

Finally, there are several GPX files available for download when doing an online search. While we have no reason to believe they aren’t accurate, we won’t recommend a specific site since we haven’t been able to verify their accuracy!

A walking path in Fife, Scotland

 

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we highly recommend utilizing offline downloadable GPS maps on your smartphone to navigate while walking the Fife Coastal Path. 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 may not 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 Fife Coastal Path.

Have a great Fife Coastal Path adventure!

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

Bridge on the Fife Coastal Path

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah preserves an incredible landscape and history. This beautiful and unique national park features stunning canyons, red rock cliffs, and the geologic wonders known…

Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah preserves an incredible landscape and history. This beautiful and unique national park features stunning canyons, red rock cliffs, and the geologic wonders known as the Waterpocket Fold and Cathedral Valley. Capitol Reef is is named after the large sandstone formations that evoke the capitol domes founds in statehouses across the country.

The park is also incredibly remote, making it the perfect place to do some serious stargazing. In fact, Capitol Reef has been designed as an international dark sky parkGiven all that, we think the best way to experience all that Capitol Reef National Park has to offer is by spending the night in your tent or RV where you’ll experience this beautiful landscape first hand.

Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding areas have camping options to suit any style. From the national park’s lone developed campground, free primitive campgrounds for those with an adventurous spirit, and endless opportunities for backcountry camping, you’re sure to find the perfect campsite for your next trip to Capitol Reef.

In addition to the campgrounds within the national park you’ll also find great options for RV,  car camping, and tons of free dispersed camping just outside the Capitol Reef National Park boundary.  Needless to say, you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Capitol Reef National Park

Rock formation in Capitol Reef

The stunning rock formations are just one reason to camp in Capitol Reef National Park.

 

In this Post

 

Capitol Reef National Park Campgrounds

Capitol Reef National Park occupies a long and narrow section of Utah’s canyon country. The park is approximately 60 miles long from north to south, but is only a few miles wide for much of its length. This naturally splits the park into northern and southern districts, with remote terrain separating the two sections.

The main access to Capitol Reef is from Utah State Highway 24, which cuts east-west across the park’s northern district. The vast majority of visitors will arrive on this highway and head to Fruita, the main hub of activity in Capitol Reef National Park.

Temple of the sun and moon in Cathedral Valley

Explore Cathedral Valley by camping at the Cathedral Valley primitive campground in Capitol Reef.

 

There is a single developed campground in Capitol Reef, located in Fruita. In addition to the Fruita Campground there are also two ‘primitive’ campgrounds in the park. These are well-located for exploring the different districts of Capitol Reef, with the Cathedral Valley Campground located in the northern district and the Cedar Mesa Campground located in the southern district.

In addition to these designated campgrounds Capitol Reef is also home to vast backcountry wilderness open to camping that can be accessed by foot. Given the unforgiving landscape of Capitol Reef, these campgrounds are only for the experienced and prepared backcountry camper.

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

Map of campgrounds in Capitol Reef National Park

Campgrounds in Capitol Reef National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

All of the campgrounds in Capitol Reef, with the exception of the Fruita Group Campsite, are open year round making a trip any time of year possible. However, keep in mind that it may be difficult to reach the Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa campgrounds during inclement weather.

Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Capitol Reef National Park.

Reservations & Permits

The developed Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef accepts reservations from March 1st – October 31st each year. Campsites here are reserved through Recreation.gov and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

Click here to make a reservation for the Fruita Campground via Recreation.gov

In addition, the group campsite at the Fruita Campground which can accommodate groups of up to 40 people requires an advance reservation. The group campsite is open seasonally and reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance via Recreation.gov.

Click here to make a reservation for the Fruita Group Campground via Recreation.gov

The two primitive campgrounds located in Capitol Reef, Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa, do not allow advance reservations. Both of these campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. If you’re looking to grab a campsite at either of these campgrounds during the peak season we highly recommend you arrive early as spots tend to fill up on busy weekends!

Tent in Capitol Reef National Park

 

For those interested in exploring the vast backcountry wilderness in Capitol Reef on a backcountry camping trip you’ll need to secure a free backcountry use permit. These permits can be obtained at the Fruita Visitor Center during normal business hours and are required for any overnight stay in Capitol Reef’s backcountry.

Information on backcountry regulations in Capitol Reef can be found here.

Backcountry wilderness in Capitol Reef National Park

Explore Capitol Reef’s vast wilderness on a backcountry camping trip.

 

What to bring on your Capitol Reef National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Capitol Reef National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Capitol Reef:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for Capitol Reef as campfires are prohibited throughout the park.
  • Pop-up canopy – The sun in Utah can be extremely strong. While there is some shade at the Fruita Campground it’s always good to be able to create your own. We recommend bringing a portable shade structure like this one.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a life saver.
  • Cooler – The hot temperatures here make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Capitol Reef National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Capitol Reef Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Capitol Reef. We like this guide to all 62 National Parks from Moon Guides. This Capitol Reef Hiking Guide is also a great resource.

When to Camp in Capitol Reef National Park

All three of the campgrounds (just not the Fruita Group site) in Capitol Reef National Park are open year round providing the opportunity for a camping trip throughout the year. However, peak season for camping in Capitol Reef is generally from March 1st – October 31st.

The winter months bring snow and cold temperatures to Capitol Reef, making camping only appealing to the hardcore winter campers out there. In addition, the summer months bring high temperatures consistently reaching into the 90s and 100s during the day in July and August. While you can still camp during these months, you’ll need to be prepared with plenty of water.

Winter in Capitol Reef national park

Winter in Capitol Reef brings snow and tough camping conditions. Photo credit NPS/Chris Roundtree

 

We think the best time to camp in Capitol Reef is during the spring and fall when temperatures are more moderate and you’ll be able to take advantage of the many things to do in the national park.

Find more information on the weather conditions you can expect to encounter in Capitol Reef National Park here. 

Developed Campgrounds

There is a single developed campground in Capitol Reef National Park, located in Fruita. In addition, the Fruita Campground also features a group campsite and has easy access to the majority of services in the national park.

Keeping reading for all the details. 

Fruita Campground

Number of Sites: 71 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 50′.
Reservations: Available from March 1st – October 31st. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

Tents in the Fruita Campground

The Fruita Campground is a beautiful place to spend the night. Photo credit NPS/Ann Huston.

 

The Fruita Campground is the lone fully developed campground in Capitol Reef National Park. Located just south of the visitor center, the campground sits adjacent to the Fremont River making for an idyllic place to spend the night.

The campground is well located for exploring the Cohab Canyon Trail, Fremont River Trail, as well as the historic Fruita Schoolhouse. Be sure to check out the Park Service’s excellent list of hikes in the Fruita area here and also download the Fruita Area Map & Guide.

The Fruita Campground contains 71 individual campsites and one group campsite. The campground is organized into three loops (A, B, and C) with each loop having access to restrooms. Potable water and a dump station are available near the entrance to the campground. Campsites at the Fruita Campground come well-equipped with a picnic table and fire grate/grill.

Campsites at the Fruita Campground are reservable up to six months in advance during peak season, from March 1st – October 31st each year. Outside of this time frame all of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Fruita Campground

The campground can accommodate both tents and RVs, with multiple sites able to fit campers in excess of 40′ in length. There are also several walk-in tent sites at the Fruita Campground, perfect for those with a smaller set-up. Check out the map linked below for a detailed map of the campground as well as more information on the features of each campsite.

View a map of the Fruita Campground here. 

Fremont River from the Cohab Canyon Trail

The Fruita Campground provides easy access to the Cohab Canyon Trail. Photo credit NPS/Chris Roundtree.

 

Fruita Group Campground

Number of Sites: 1 group site
Fee: $100/night
Capacity: 40 people
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 50′.
Reservations: Required. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally from mid-April to mid-October
More Information

Fruita Group Campground in Capitol Reef National Park

The Fruita Group Campground can accommodate up to 40 people. Photo credit NPS/A. Huston.

 

In addition to the 71 individual campsites, the Fruita Campground also features a large, group campsite. Located in a secluded area away from the main campground, the Fruita Group Campsite can accommodate up to 40 campers at a time. You’ll enjoy access to picnic tables, fire grate, and a covered shelter.

The Fruita Group Campground costs $100/night to reserve regardless of how many people are camping and has a limit of 10 total vehicles. RVs are welcome, but keep in mind that anything longer than 27′ will have a difficult time navigating the parking area.

Reservations for the Fruita Group Campground are required and can be made up to 12-months in advance via Recreation.gov. The campground is only open during the peak season, generally from mid-April through mid-October.

Reservations for the Fruita Group Campground can be made here. 

Barn in the Gifford Homestead in Capitol Reef National Park

Explore the Gifford Homestead from your campsite at the Fruita Group Campground.

 

Primitive Campgrounds

In addition the developed Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef National Park features two primitive campgrounds located on the park’s iconic dirt roads. These campgrounds are located in the northern and southern districts of Capitol Reef, allowing visitors to camp and explore different sections of the park.

The primitive nature of these campsites means you won’t find any flush toilets, water taps, or other amenities that developed campgrounds offer. In exchange for roughing it you’ll be treated to a solitude only possible by venturing off the beaten path!

Keep reading to learn more about the two primitive campgrounds in Capitol Reef National Park.

Cathedral Valley Campground

Number of Sites: 6 sites
Fee: Free
RVs: Not recommend.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open year round.

Picnic table in the Cathedral Valley Campground

The Cathedral Valley Campground. Photo credit NPS/ Erik McDonald

 

The Cathedral Valley Campground is located in Capitol Reef’s northern district, known as Cathedral Valley. This stunningly beautiful section of the national park got its name from the sandstone towers that dot the landscape and evoke the forms of medieval cathedrals. Spending the night here will also have you well located to explore the many hikes that take in the incredible scenery of Cathedral Valley.

Situated on the popular Cathedral Valley Loop Road, a 58-mile dirt road that circumnavigates the area, the campground generally requires a 4WD vehicle with high clearance to reach. As such, we don’t recommend trying to camp here with an RV.

The campground has six individual campsites that each feature a basic picnic table and fire ring. There are also pit toilets for the campground. There is no running water available at the Cathedral Valley Campground, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need for your trip. 

All of the sites are free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground will fill most nights on busy weekends during the peak season, so we recommend trying to arrive early to secure your site.

Views of the Cathedral Valley

Exploring the Cathedral Valley is a quintessential experience in Capitol Reef. Photo credit NPS/Nielson.

 

Cedar Mesa Campground

Number of Sites: 5 sites
Fee: Free
RVs: Not recommend.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open year round.

The Cedar Mesa Campground is located in the southern district of Capitol Reef National Park. This less explored section of the park is home to several excellent hikes as well as the famous Burr Trail switchbacks. Take advantage of the campground’s location at the start of the Red Canyon Trail, a popular hike in this section of the park.

Cedar Mesa is located on the Notom-Bullfrog Road which ultimately leads to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, south of Capitol Reef. Getting to the campground is typically doable in a 2WD vehicle, although it is always a good idea to touch base with a ranger for the latest road conditions prior to setting out.

The campground has five individual campsites that each feature a basic picnic table and fire ring. There are also pit toilets for the campground. There is no running water available at the Cedar Mesa Campground, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need for your trip. 

All of the sites are free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Burr Trail switchbacks near the Cedar Mesa campground

The Burr Trail Switchbacks are approximately 45 minutes from the Cedar Mesa Campground.

 

Backcountry camping in Capitol Reef National Park

For the adventurous, a backcountry camping trip in Capitol Reef National Park is the perfect opportunity to explore this vast wilderness. The park’s remote terrain provides the chance for solitude and an experience that can’t be found at the developed or primitive campgrounds in Capitol Reef. However, a backpacking trip here is not for the inexperienced. Be sure you are prepared for this unique environment and follow the national park guidelines for backcountry camping, outlined below. 

A backpacking trail in Capitol Reef National Park

 

Backcountry Use Permit

Anyone planning to spend the night in the Capitol Reef backcountry is required to obtain a free, backcountry use permit. These permits are available at the Fruita Visitor Center during normal operating hours.

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.

Backcountry Regulations

The following backcountry regulations should be observed by anyone venturing into the Capitol Reef backcountry, especially those planning an overnight trip:

  • Limit group size to no more than 12 people.
  • Camp away from roads and out of sight of trails or other campers.
  • Properly dispose of all human waste.
  • Campfires are prohibited in the Capitol Reef backcountry.
  • Pets are not allowed on any trail or in the backcountry.
  • Always prace Leave No Trace principles.

Click here for a full list of backcountry regulations in Capitol Reef National Park

Sandstone ridge

 

Where to go backpacking in Capitol Reef

Once you’ve got the basic regulations for planning a backpacking trip in Capitol Reef down you can move on to the fun part: planning your trip!

While you can technically backpack and camp anywhere within the park boundaries, the park service has an excellent list of recommended backpacking trips, outlined below:

A hiker explores the Halls Creek Narrows

Exploring the Halls Creek Narrows on a backpacking trip. Photo credit NPS.

 

Capitol Reef National Park Camping Must Know

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

Campfires in Capitol Reef

Campfires are permitted only in the provided fire rings and grates at the Fruita Campground as well as the Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa primitive campgrounds. 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. Do not gather any existing wood from the national park.

Firewood is available for purchase from the Gifford House, near the Fruita Campground.

There are no fires allowed in the Capitol Reef backcountry, so plan to bring a camp stove if backpacking.

Wildlife

Capitol Reef National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife that inhabit this unique ecosystem. The rugged nature of Utah’s canyon country means that many of these species have adapted to live where water can be scare and the terrain unforgiving. Campers should be especially aware of the following:

  • Rock squirrels: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Capitol Reef. They are commonly found near the Fruita area and are known to try to snack on your camping supplies!
  • Snakes: Capitol Reef is home to a wide variety of snake species. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail and near campgrounds for them. The only venomous snake found in Capitol Reef is the Midget Faded Rattlesnake, which are very common throughout the park.
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep: This incredible species was successfully reintroduced to Capitol Reef National Park in the 1990s. Spotting a bighorn sheep as they move effortlessley along a cliff face is a truly spectacular sight!

You can find more information on the wildlife of Capitol Reef National Park here.

A desert bighorn sheep in Capitol Reef

A desert bighorn sheep in Capitol Reef. Photo credit NPS/Nielson.

 

Pets

As with many national parks, Capitol Reef has strict guidelines on where you are allowed to bring a pet. Pets are permitted at all three of the designed campgrounds in Capitol Reef. Pets are also allowed in the following places:

  • The trail between the Fruita Campground and Visitor Center
  • On specific portions of the Fremont River Trail
  • Parking & Picnic Areas
  • Within 50′ of roadways

Please keep you pet on a leash at all times and remember that pets are not allowed in the backcountry or on any hiking trails in Capitol Reef National Park.

In addition,  it is important to take proper precautions when bringing a pet to Capitol Reef. This includes bringing plenty of water for them and never leaving them unattended in a car.

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

Where to get supplies

Capitol Reef National Park is incredible remote with no major towns in close proximity. Thus, stocking up on camping supplies before your camping trip is essential. 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 a few small towns that provide some essential services near Capitol Reef National Park. Check out your options below:

  • In the park
    • There are no major services located within Capitol Reef National Park. The only store resides in the Gifford House which sells local craft goods, some very basic food items, and firewood. The store only operates during peak season.
  • East of Capitol Reef
    • Hanksville, Utah: Hanksville is located approximately 45 minutes east of Fruita along State Highway 24. Here you’ll find a basic grocery store, a few gas stations, and a handful of restaurants.
  • West of Capitol Reef
    • Torrey, Utah: Located just 8 miles west of Fruita, Torrey is likely to be your best bet for any last minutes camping supplies. The town features an excellent outdoor store, grocery store, and several gas stations.

 

Camping near Capitol Reef National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Capitol Reef National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, given the somewhat limited options within the national park it is always possible that you’ll arrive only to find all the campgrounds full.

Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of great camping options outside of Capitol Reef National Park. Check out your best bets for RV campgrounds, car camping, and free dispersed camping near Capitol Reef National Park below.

RV driving towards Capitol Reef National Park

 

RV campgrounds near Capitol Reef

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Capitol Reef National Park. RV campgrounds are generally found along State Highway 24 on both the west and east side of the national park. Learn more below.

RV Campgrounds East of Capitol Reef National Park (Caineville & Hanksville)

The following campgrounds are all located to the east of Capitol Reef National Park:

Sleepy Hollow Campground – Caineville

Number of sites: 30
Fee: Varies
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call 435-456-9130
Pets: Allowed

The Sleepy Hollow Campground is located adjacent to the Fremont River just off State Highway 24. From here it is only a short drive, 20 minute drive to the heart of Capitol Reef. The campground gets excellent reviews for the beautiful views and very friendly owner. Highly recommended.

 

Duke’s Slickrock Campground & RV Park- Hanksville

Number of sites: 49 RV site + 30 tent-only sites
Fee: $35/night for RV sites and $20/night for tent sites
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

Centrally located in Hanksville, UT, Duke’s Slickrock Campground is a great option for those looking for an RV campground with great services and amenities. You’ll be a bit further from the national park here (30 minute drive), but in exchange you’ll have access to laundry facilities, free WiFi, and an on-site restaurant.

 

RV Campgrounds West of Capitol Reef National Park (Torrey & Hanksville)

Wonderland RV Park- Torrey

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Varies. More information here. 
Capacity: $42/night for RV sites, $20/night for tent sites
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

The Wonderland RV Park is located on the eastern edge of Torrey, UT putting you extremely close to Capitol Reef National Park. This large campground features a variety of campsites to accommodate all types of RVs, including sites with full-hookups. In addition, there are dedicated tent-only campsites. Amenities include free WiFi, shower and laundry facilities, and free cable tv.

The campground gets great reviews for its clean facilities and stunning location.

 

Sandcreek RV Park & Campground – Torrey

Number of sites: 15 RV sites + 12 tent-only sites
Fee: Varies. More information here. 
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

The Sandcreek RV Park & Campground is located on the western side of Torrey, putting you in a convenient location for accessing Capitol Reef National Park. This smaller campground has just 15 RV sites which makes for a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Campers have access to free WiFi, showers, and laundry facilities.

Storm clouds over Capitol Reef National Park

 

Car camping sites near Capitol Reef National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Capitol Reef 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 Capitol Reef.

Car camping near Capitol Reef

 

Fishlake National Forest

Number of Sites: Singletree (31 sites), Upper Pleasant Creek (16 sites), and Oak Creek (9 sites)
Fee: $10 – 20/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, but check individual campsite pages for length restrictions. Not recommended at Oak Creek.
Reservations: Only for Singletree Campground. Reserve here. 
Pets: Allowed.

Map of campgrounds in Fishlake National Forest near Capitol Reef.

The campsites in Fishlake National Forest make a great car camping option near Capitol Reef. Map credit NPS.

 

Just south of Torrey, UT on the western edge of Capitol Reef National Park sits Fishlake National Forest. There are three developed campgrounds here that make a great option for those looking to car camp prior to their visit to Capitol Reef National Park.

The first and largest of the three campgrounds is the Singletree Campground, which can accommodate larger RVs in addition to tent campers. Reservations are recommended here. Traveling a bit further south along Highway 12 will bring you to the Upper Pleasant Creek and Oak Creek Campgrounds. These are more basic and are best suited to tent campers.

Free dispersed camping near Capitol Reef National Park

Your final option for camping near Capitol Reef National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or United States Forest Service (USFS) land adjacent to the national park. If this appeals to you you’re in luck, as Capitol Reef National Park is practically surrounded by this public land with tons of free camping opportunities.

Much of this land is overseen by the BLM and USFS 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.

The park service provides the handy map below that shows the different areas surrounding Capitol Reef National Park that is open to dispersed camping and we’ve highlighted some of our favorites below.

Map of dispersed camping areas near Capitol Reef National Park

There are tons of options for dispersed camping near Capitol Reef National Park. Map credit NPS.

 

Dispersed Camping West of Capitol Reef

There is an abundance of public land that allows for free dispersed camping on the west side of Capitol Reef National Park. These areas are primarily located in Fishlake National Forest and are concentrated south of Torrey, UT on State Highway 12 as well as just north of State Highway 24 between Torrey and the national park boundary.

The most popular of these campsites is located just north of Highway 24 around mile marker 73. Find more detail here on FreeCampsites.net. 

For those looking for a bit more privacy, the dispersed camping along State Highway 12 south of Torrey tends to be a bit more secluded.

As always, please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

Be sure to contact the Dixie/Fishlake Ranger Office if you have any questions about dispersed camping on the west side of Capitol Reef. They can be reach at (435) 836-2811.

Dispersed Camping East of Capitol Reef

On the east side of Capitol Reef dispersed camping is available on BLM land immediately adjacent to the park. You’ll find good free campsites located along State Highway 24 as well as south along Notom-Bullfrog Road.

There is a large site just south of the highway on Notom-Bullfrog Road that gets good reviews. Find more information on this free campsite here.

Along State Highway 24 this campsite on BLM land gets good reviews for its beautiful river views.

As always, please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

The NPS recommends contacting the Henry Mountain Field Station to inquire about dispersed camping on BLM land near Capitol Reef National Park.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Capitol Reef 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!

Red sandstone cliffs in Capitol Reef

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