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  1. #1
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    Campgrounds Californian Coast (SF to LA)

    hi everyone
    i'm planing a trip from SF to LA along the PCH in september/october this year. i've allready read a lot about the route but i have one question hoping to get some anwsere from other users.
    I will bring my tent with me and hence will sleep on campgrounds. the campgrounds i've seen on pictures in the web all seemed to be very remote. honestly i'm a bit scared to sleep alone in an tent with no other persons around. it would be very helpfull if you could name some campgrounds where the chance is high to meet other cyclists.
    thanks a lot!

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    I know this doesn´t answer your question exactly, but check out this website Allstays | Campgrounds | RV Parks for campgrounds of all types. It might take a second or two, but the sheer volume is incredible. Just filter it for "tents allowed" and you´ll be amazed. I liked it so much that I bought the app.

    Hope that helps a bit.

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    Hiker-Biker Sites will have other people camping there with you..

    CalTrans is the state agency for maps, Free..as would be searching the State park site for where the Campgrounds are .

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    The hiker biker sites in the state parks are generally not remote at all. I'd also be surprised if you stay in any hiker bikers sites where there will not be other people. If in doubt you will likely be able to make friends and camp with the same group of folks each night. I know that when I rode the coast folks in camp usually discussed where they would stay the next day and our group mostly stayed intact with some riders coming and going from the group.

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    I wrote a guide to this route that included the hiker/biker camping sites along the route.

    I would not call the hiker/biker sites remote. There will be fewer people in the Sept/Oct timeframe than during the summer, but you won't be alone in the campgrounds.
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

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    In southern California, the beach campgrounds are packed all summer, and need reservations for any regular sites to be made online instantly, as soon as available, usually six months in advance. When I've stayed at them, I was wishing at many times for less noise and people (especially little kids that consider your campsite a BMX racetrack).

    The Pacific coast route is the probably the best one in the US for you to meet other tourists, since it's very popular. Even the more remote sites, such as along the Big Sur Coast, should have other hiker-bikers and plenty of RV/car campers.

    The pictures you mention may be somewhat deceiving, most of the coast campgrounds have markets and houses nearby and would not be isolated off in the boonies. The photographers are probably intending to give a remote impression. HB sites along that route that are in suburban settings would include Santa Cruz, Veteran's Park in Monterey, San Simeon, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Lompoc, and Carpenteria. Most of the others at least have some houses and markets nearby. Big Sur camps such as Plaskett would be the farthest from an urban setting.
    Last edited by stevepusser; 07-24-14 at 01:30 PM.

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    Along the route on PCH HWY 1 just climb down the slope from the Hwy and stake out before it goes dark. Might be a bit noisy from the waves crashing in on the rocks but the experience will be unforgettable.
    Best,

    -T

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    Quote Originally Posted by tjkoko View Post
    Along the route on PCH HWY 1 just climb down the slope from the Hwy and stake out before it goes dark. Might be a bit noisy from the waves crashing in on the rocks but the experience will be unforgettable.
    I thought the OP wanted to meet other cyclists, not hide!

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    I thought the OP wanted to meet other cyclists, not hide!
    8^0 oooooOOOOOppps.
    Best,

    -T

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    I thought the OP wanted to meet other cyclists, not hide!
    Aw hell, I was thinkin' of the view. Ain't nothin' like it along the coast. Especially when you're camped out around 20 feet above the ocean surface that's beating upside of the earth's crusty coastline.
    Best,

    -T

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    The hole dang ride is gorgeous, but my favorite camping spots along that stretch are:

    Andrew Molera SP, no dedicated bike camping but it's walk-in only, cars park about 0.5 miles from the sites and have to walk all their stuff in, keeps out some of the riff-raff and is also first come first served only so get there early in the day and you should be fine

    Kirk Creek Campground, small campground right off the highway with bike/hike site, beautiful lush green campground overlooking rocky beach cliffs (lots of skunks though), big banana slugs in the hills just behind the campground inland of the highway

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    I did Astoria to San Fransisco from late May thru end of June this year. You will find the hiker biker sites to be great. They were usually $5 or $6, one was $7. Showers are usually coin operated, bring quarters.

    I used the guidebook, it was well worth the cost and the weight. I however have heard that some of the hiker biker sites south of San Fransisco have been closed, although we never had that problem. If you get the guidebook, double check the hiker biker site locations against the website for the specific park you are going to since the guidebook is a bit dated.
    Hike or Bike Campsites
    http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Paci.../dp/0898869544

    Some of the campgrounds did not take plastic for the campsites, make sure you have some cash.

    If you plan to do laundry in the rest room sinks, bring your own sink stopper.

    I made some detailed observations of my trip at this link:
    Southt to North Pacific Coast Highway Concerns

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    Quote Originally Posted by krookie View Post
    honestly i'm a bit scared to sleep alone in an tent with no other persons around.
    What are your fears? I would actually prefer to sleep alone in a tent with nobody around! I might actually get a good night's sleep and wouldn't have to worry about any of my stuff getting stolen...

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    thanks everybody for the help and information!
    so I guess it's best if I go for the hiker/biker sites. there are just so many of them... are there some who are known to be the like "places to meet", some all time favorites?

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    Quote Originally Posted by krookie View Post
    thanks everybody for the help and information!
    so I guess it's best if I go for the hiker/biker sites. there are just so many of them... are there some who are known to be the like "places to meet", some all time favorites?
    The main developed campground in Big Sur State Park, most of the coastal camps along the BIg Sur Coast, Morro Bay, the two HB sites in Malibu, and New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz are the most popular in the stretch you are talking about.

    I have not been there recently, but have seen some poor reviews for the San Simeon and Pismo Beach area campsites at crazyguyonabike.

    If you can get a big enough group together, you may also check out a site at a private campground with amenities, such as this fellow: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=380800&v=R
    Last edited by stevepusser; 07-29-14 at 01:44 PM.

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    Here is a list of Hiker Biker Campgrounds along the coast route between SF and LA. I've put short notes next to those I know, others can add to the list and add comments.
    Portola Redwoods State Park
    Half Moon Bay State Beach
    Sunset State Beach
    New Brighton State Beach (Beautiful spot on cliff above the ocean)
    Veteran"s Memorial Park (right in the middle of Monterey, up a big hill. Not a State Park)
    Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (In the big redwoods. Nice spot and recently redone)
    Kirk Creek Campground (Nice, but there is no water, you need to carry it in. Water possibly for sale, $5 a gallon or active creek to filter water from.)
    Limekiln
    Hearst San Simeon State Park (not a great spot but it's the first after you drop out of Big Sur hills)
    Morro Bay State Park
    Lompoc River Park (No H/B sites, but $15 nightly tent sites)
    Gaviota State Beach (Hiker/Biker spots available)
    Refugio State Beach (nice spot right on the beach)
    El Capitán State Beach (Not as nice as Refugio, and a long hilly ride from the front gate. Great view, but up against railroad)
    Carpinteria State Beach (Good spot at the beach, but nothing stands out. Very close to a good brewery)
    McGrath State Beach (closed, but you can camp there, and you will be alone)* May be open again.
    Point Mugu State Park
    Leo Carrillo State Park (Nice shady spot right near the dump station on the inland side of PCH)
    Doheney State Beach (Small H/B site with very strict rules about time in/out.)
    Last edited by surfjimc; 07-30-14 at 08:56 PM. Reason: add campgrounds and info

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    There's also the city park campground in Lompoc (the River park) with HB sites. Not "remote" at all. Next HB site S of that is Gaviota State Beach--that's fairly remote from supplies and markets, and can be very windy, but you will be near other campers. Most tourists keep on truckin' down to Refugio, though.

    Huh--look at this page that Santa Barbara County put up for bike campers. Kudos to them!
    Too bad other counties don't follow suit. http://www.bike-santabarbara.org/acc...camp/camp.html

    Hey, here's a live video stream of the beach by the San Elijo State Beach Hike 'n' Bike site. It's the last beach HB site in San Diego County, and one of two left south of LA. They just raised it to $10 per night per person, but added a table and fire ring to the site. (#65) The campsite lies on the north shore of that little tidal inlet to the right of that oval parking lot in the video, about 75 meters from that lot: http://www.camzone.com/hansen-cardiff

    Yesterday, they had a freak thunderstorm dump about half an inch of rain at 10 AM. but any bikers are supposed to be out of there by 9 AM.
    Last edited by stevepusser; 07-28-14 at 08:47 AM.

  18. #18
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    Strictly speaking, River Campground in Lompoc doesn't have HB sites anymore. They have a sign at the entrance stating that. But they have tent sites for $15 and you can easily join another group since the sites are quite large.

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    Quote Originally Posted by surfjimc View Post
    Kirk Creek Campground (Nice, but there is no water, you need to carry it in)
    Beautiful location, but if they still have the same camp host, tread lightly. The guy there (Rick something) when I was there (2011) was a real jerk. He seemed to be trying to provoke cyclists to give him a reason to kick them out. He actually seemed to be trying to provoke a fight. I heard stories from several folks who had some level of unpleasantness from him and a couple where he made someone's wife or girlfriend cry. It took quite a bit of restraint and diplomacy on my part to not have it escalate to the point of me being thrown out. I generally get along fine and in all of my 63 years he is the only camp host, ranger, or other similar person of authority that I have had a problem with. Suffice it to say the guy can be a real jerk. The other folks referred to him as Ranger Rick. Hopefully he is no longer there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    There's also the city park campground in Lompoc (the River park) with HB sites. Not "remote" at all. Next HB site S of that is Gaviota State Beach--that's fairly remote from supplies and markets, and can be very windy, but you will be near other campers. Most tourists keep on truckin' down to Refugio, though.
    I didn't think that Refugio had Hiker/Biker sites, but it looked like an awesome place to camp! Gaviota looked decidedly unappealing. Perhaps that's why Refugio appeared full and Gaviota abandoned when I rode past. I can heartily recommend the Motel 6 on Calle Real in Goleta, however. It's right around the corner from Old Man Mountain

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    Quote Originally Posted by Galoot View Post
    Strictly speaking, River Campground in Lompoc doesn't have HB sites anymore. They have a sign at the entrance stating that. But they have tent sites for $15 and you can easily join another group since the sites are quite large.
    Thanks for the update!

    I was looking at the HB site at the Lake Cachuma County Park on Google Earth. It appears to be just south of the park ampitheater under several large oaks, so would be shady all day. The guide says you can stay two weeks at $5 a night! It could be a nice spot for a rest day or so, or if you get tired of the constant fog and mist along the coast, or switch from River Park. It's usually quite warm in the summer...OK, currently it's 74F at 11AM, probably due to the unusual monsoon overcast, but the usual high is about 90F. There's no lake swimming, but there's a pool in the campground. Or more attractive might be a day ride up the Santa Ynez River along Paradise Road. There's numerous swimming holes in the river (see White Rock and Red Rock), USFS campgrounds with water and flush toilets, a couple resorts, a market, and probably a lot of teenagers on a hot summer day...

    Highway 154 up the San Marcos Pass to Santa Barbara is narrow, winding, and busy, but can be skirted by taking the old highway (Stagecoach Road) to the summit, and from there it's all downhill to the coast--so traffic will pass you at 60mph while you are doing 30. Or you can turn off shortly after the summit and take the steep downhills on Old San Marcos Pass Road down to Santa Barbara and the PCH route. That's traffic-free.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Beautiful location, but if they still have the same camp host, tread lightly. The guy there (Rick something) when I was there (2011) was a real jerk. He seemed to be trying to provoke cyclists to give him a reason to kick them out. He actually seemed to be trying to provoke a fight. I heard stories from several folks who had some level of unpleasantness from him and a couple where he made someone's wife or girlfriend cry. It took quite a bit of restraint and diplomacy on my part to not have it escalate to the point of me being thrown out. I generally get along fine and in all of my 63 years he is the only camp host, ranger, or other similar person of authority that I have had a problem with. Suffice it to say the guy can be a real jerk. The other folks referred to him as Ranger Rick. Hopefully he is no longer there.
    Rick's last mention on Yelp for the campground (also not positive) was in 2012. Keith, the current one, seems OK. The campers mention water on sale for $5 a gallon in the camp, and $4 at the stores. Still less than gas at $7/gal there!
    I wonder if there are any natural water sources nearby you could run through a purifier...

    Ashley's post on how she and her companions drove there and got the HB site is a hoot. Essential camping prep: "a sh*t ton of drugs" and no reservations on Memorial Day weekend. Ideal campsite companions!
    Last edited by stevepusser; 07-28-14 at 12:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I didn't think that Refugio had Hiker/Biker sites, but it looked like an awesome place to camp! Gaviota looked decidedly unappealing. Perhaps that's why Refugio appeared full and Gaviota abandoned when I rode past.
    Refugio has my favorite Hike&Bike site in that area. It's just across the road from the ocean and is one of the best sites in the park. Plenty of trees for shade and wind protection and great sunset views across the beach. There's a bike path that connects the Refugio and El Cap. parks which is a good way to get off Hwy. 101 for a stretch. I've stayed at the H&B area at Gaviota as well - it's not bad but not as sheltered from the wind and sun.

    Sorry to hear of the unfriendly camp host at Kirk Creek. I stayed there a year or so earlier and had very nice interactions with the Host at that time. The park had a 'Campground Full' sign up when I rode in and was greeted by the host who let me know the H&B area was still empty and gave recommendations on the best place to pitch my tent for views and shelter from the wind. Later he came by and mentioned that he had potable water I could have if I needed any (the camp water spigots had warning signs that they had failed state standards).

  24. #24
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    I wonder if there are any natural water sources nearby you could run through a purifier...
    Kirk creek is real close according to google maps, not sure if it reliably has water or not though. It looks like it might be as little as 100 yards to the south of the camp entrance. When I was there none of us checked it out.

    BTW, glad to hear that Rick is no longer there.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 07-28-14 at 02:20 PM.

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    Yes, Kirk Creek is reliable water, there are spots that are easily accessible and more than knee-deep. One of the cyclists camping near me was carrying a filter and filled up at the creek. If I had needed more water I would have boiled some, but I had plenty to get where I was going.

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