Bay Area/Sierra recommendations for a mild first trip

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Traveler I

60
Chelan, WA, USA
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Brian
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C
Hey all,

I want to take the wife out on a little overnight in our new 2019 4runner. Nothing rigorous at all, we aren't fully equipped yet.
What we do have is your essential overnight camping gear, extra water, comms, gas, etc. My thought was get a roll up pad for the interior and lay the seats down.

Anyway, Im looking for a mild trail within 3 hours or so of Santa Cruz to get a little muddy and camp out overnight. I would appreciate some recommendations.

Thanks!
 

VonTrapp

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Traveler I

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San Diego, CA, USA
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Von Trapp
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I was just about to search a similar question! New to the forum... new (to me) Jeep... hoping for the same ideas - quick trip, minimal equipment, just to scratch the nature itch.
 

Kent R

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Off-Road Ranger I

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El Dorado, Ca
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I would head south toward big sur. Your title says Sierras and I would recommend against that until late spring. But when it does get nice up here make sure to get in touch with me and I can give you some advice.
 

BCJohn

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Traveler I

271
Boulder Creek, CA, USA
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17125

Hey all,

I want to take the wife out on a little overnight in our new 2019 4runner. Nothing rigorous at all, we aren't fully equipped yet.
What we do have is your essential overnight camping gear, extra water, comms, gas, etc. My thought was get a roll up pad for the interior and lay the seats down.

Anyway, Im looking for a mild trail within 3 hours or so of Santa Cruz to get a little muddy and camp out overnight. I would appreciate some recommendations.

Thanks!
I just went to China Camp in Los Padres. It's about 2 hours from Santa Cruz. It's a small primitive site. 10-mile dirt road to get there that gets dicey in the rain. Pretty remote.
 

BettyWhiteOneSeven

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Los Padres National Forest, which includes one of the most scenic drives in the world through hwy. 1 Big Sur. Search up Prewitt Ridge and Coast Ridge Rd. Be sure to see if hwy. 1 has closures, it wouldn't hurt to check the NF website also. Many nice spots to be had

Was just there this weekend for the first time ever. Absolut lay gorgeous area and awesome drive. Highly recommend!

But yeah, be sure to check Highway 1 conditions, can almost guarantee it closed during rainy weather but open pretty fast afterwards. The drive to Prewitt Ridge campground has some gorgeous views. Took my PreRunner up there no problem even in the pouring rain. IMG_3829.JPG
 

McGrizzly

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if you want a two for, hit the trail next to the bixby bridge. follow that all the way around till it hits highway 1. its a nice drive through some beautiful land. although no camping...
 

McGrizzly

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When we were going down the other side of the hill, there was a full size 90's suburban coming up the road. I dont recall any even hair raising spots for our 4 runner, you should be good.
 
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1derer

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Old Coast and mentioned before is very accessible, Coast Ridge Trail is a little more rugged with a lot more opportunities for exploring.

I'd also suggest Hi Mountain Rd, Pozo CA good camping lots of trail options better in Spring, too hot in summer IMO.

If you are up for more of a trip... 4 hrs Poker Flat is a great beginner trail but no services and less people.
 

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1derer

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How about the Oceano Dunes, just camp all the way down away from everyone.
Make sure to make your reservation it used to be unlimited but in recent years there is a max allowed camping. If its full camping near by in Pozo or Los Padres are good options.
 

Thomas B

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Santa Clara, CA, USA
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PiPi Campground off highway 88. The actual campground was closed (as of two weeks ago) but there are plenty of beautiful spots along the river outside of the main campground. It’s all National Forest and BLM land around there so you can camp pretty much anywhere. Also lots of dirt Forest Service roads to explore. Elevation is low enough that there’s no snow at this time. I was just there a couple weeks ago. Beautiful drive up over the pass (88) if you want to see snow. Here’s a pic of my campsite.

And here’s snow further up the pass...
 

Sonarman

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PiPi Campground off highway 88. The actual campground was closed (as of two weeks ago) but there are plenty of beautiful spots along the river outside of the main campground. It’s all National Forest and BLM land around there so you can camp pretty much anywhere. Also lots of dirt Forest Service roads to explore. Elevation is low enough that there’s no snow at this time. I was just there a couple weeks ago. Beautiful drive up over the pass (88) if you want to see snow. Here’s a pic of my campsite.

And here’s snow further up the pass...
No pic?