Are you ready for a thrilling adventure that will take you through some of California’s most beautiful terrain? Bikepacking is an exciting way to explore the state’s stunning landscapes, and California offers some of the best routes in the country. With the right preparation, you can embark on an unforgettable journey that will challenge you both physically and mentally. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to plan a successful bikepacking trip in California.

Welcome to this article about bikepacking California! Bikepacking is a form of adventure travel that combines biking and camping, allowing you to explore new places and experience the great outdoors in a unique way. California is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the United States, from rugged mountain ranges to winding coastal roads. In this article, we will explore the best bikepacking routes in California, what gear you’ll need, and some tips on how to make the most of your adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned bikepacker or a newbie to the sport, there’s something in California for everyone. So grab your bike, pack your bags, and let’s hit the road!

The Basics of Bikepacking

First things first, let’s talk about what bikepacking is. Simply put, bikepacking is a combination of backpacking and cycling. Instead of carrying your gear on your back, you load it onto your bike and set off on a multi-day journey. Bikepacking is a fantastic way to explore the great outdoors, get some exercise, and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life.

The Gear You’ll Need

To get started with bikepacking, you’ll need some essential gear. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • A bike: You don’t need a fancy bike to go bikepacking, but you’ll want something that’s reliable and comfortable for long rides.
  • Panniers or bikepacking bags: You’ll need something to carry your gear in. Panniers are bags that attach to racks on your bike, while bikepacking bags are designed to fit onto your bike’s frame.
  • Sleeping bag and pad: You’ll need a way to stay warm and comfortable at night.
  • Tent or shelter: You’ll need a place to sleep at night, so a tent or sleeping shelter is essential.
  • Food and water: You’ll need to bring enough food and water for several days on the road.
  • Clothing: You’ll need to dress appropriately for the weather and pack some extra layers in case of unexpected changes.

California’s best bikepacking routes

California offers some of the most scenic and challenging bikepacking routes in the country. Here are a few of the best:

One of the key takeaways from this text is that bikepacking in California offers a unique and exciting way to explore the state’s stunning landscapes. With proper planning and essential gear, adventurers can embark on unforgettable multi-day journeys that challenge them both physically and mentally. California’s best bikepacking routes, including Lost Coast, Sierra Cascades, and Big Sur, offer breathtaking views and rewarding experiences. When planning a trip, consider route planning, food and water, safety measures, and necessary permits. Overall, bikepacking in California is an adventure of a lifetime for those willing to take on the challenge.

California offers some of the most scenic and challenging bikepacking routes in the country. Here are a few of the best:

Lost Coast

The Lost Coast is a rugged and remote section of coastline in Northern California. The route is around 100 miles long and includes some steep climbs and technical terrain. The scenery is breathtaking, with stunning ocean views and towering redwoods. This route is best tackled in the summer months when the weather is mild.

Sierra Cascades

the Sierra Cascades route is a 2,400-mile journey that takes you through some of California’s most beautiful landscapes. You’ll start in the mountains of Northern California and wind your way through the Sierra Nevada range, past Lake Tahoe, and down into the Mojave Desert. This route is ideal for experienced bikepackers who are up for a challenge.

Big Sur

Big Sur is one of the most iconic stretches of coastline in the world. The route is around 90 miles long and includes some challenging climbs and technical descents. You’ll be rewarded with stunning ocean views, redwood forests, and some of the most beautiful campsites in the state. This route is best tackled in the spring or fall when the weather is mild.

Planning Your Bikepacking Trip

Now that you have an idea of what bikepacking is and some of the best routes in California let’s talk about how to plan your trip.

Route Planning

When planning your bikepacking trip, you’ll need to consider the distance, terrain, and weather conditions. Make sure you choose a route that’s appropriate for your skill level, and be realistic about how much ground you can cover each day. You’ll also want to research the area’s weather patterns, so you can pack appropriately.

Food and Water

You’ll need to bring enough food and water for your entire trip. Make sure you plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, and bring plenty of water purification tablets or a filter.


Bikepacking can be dangerous, so it’s essential to take safety seriously. Make sure you have a first aid kit and know basic first aid. It’s also a good idea to carry a satellite phone or a personal locator beacon in case of an emergency.


Some bikepacking routes require permits, so make sure you research the area’s regulations and obtain any necessary permits before you set off on your trip.

FAQs about Bikepacking in California

What is bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a type of adventure cycling that involves off-road, long-distance bike trips that are often completed in remote areas. It combines bike touring and backpacking, allowing cyclists to travel on dirt roads, singletrack, and other unpaved paths while carrying all the necessary gear for an overnight (or even multi-day) trip.

Is California a good place for bikepacking?

Yes, California is a fantastic place for bikepacking. It has an incredibly diverse landscape, from the coastal highways and redwood forests in the north to the deserts and mountains in the south. California also has an extensive network of bike-friendly roads and trails, making it easy for cyclists to explore the state’s scenic and remote areas.

What gear do I need for bikepacking?

To go bikepacking, you’ll need a bike that’s suitable for off-road use, as well as bikepacking bags to carry your gear. Essential gear for bikepacking includes a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, as well as cooking supplies, food, and water. It’s important to pack light, but you’ll also want to bring the necessary tools and spare parts to make any repairs along the way.

How long does a typical bikepacking trip in California last?

The length of a bikepacking trip in California can vary greatly depending on a rider’s skill level, fitness, and the route they choose. Some people may undertake short overnight or weekend trips, while others may plan multi-day or week-long journeys. It’s important to plan your trip carefully and consider the difficulty level of your route, as well as your physical abilities and the amount of gear you’ll need to carry.

What are some recommended bikepacking routes in California?

There are many fantastic bikepacking routes to explore in California. Some popular options include the Lost Coast, which runs along the rugged coastline in Humboldt County, and the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a 2,650-mile trail that spans from California to Canada. Other great options include the Sierra Cascades route, which traverses the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Death Valley Loop, which offers stunning desert scenery.

Are there any bikepacking tours or companies in California?

Yes, there are several bikepacking tours and companies in California that can help plan and guide your trip. Some notable options include the Adventure Cycling Association, which offers guided tours and route planning resources, and the Bicycle Adventure Club, which offers local and international bike tours. There are also several bike shops and outfitters throughout the state that provide rentals, gear, and trip planning assistance.


By Frank

Frank Thompson, a seasoned cyclist and bike aficionado, has been passionate about all things bicycle-related since his childhood. Born and raised in the beautiful Seattle, Frank has spent countless hours exploring the winding trails, scenic roads, and vibrant urban landscapes on two wheels. With over 20 years of experience in the cycling world, Frank has garnered an extensive knowledge of bicycle mechanics, maintenance, and customization. After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Frank pursued a career in the bicycle industry, working with renowned bike manufacturers and local bike shops. His expertise led him to become a sought-after consultant for professional cyclists, weekend warriors, and bike enthusiasts alike. Throughout the years, he has also volunteered with various cycling advocacy groups, promoting safe and accessible cycling infrastructure in the community. Frank's passion for cycling extends beyond his professional life, as he has participated in numerous local and international bike races and charity events. His love for adventure has taken him on several memorable cycling expeditions, from the breathtaking mountain trails of the Rockies to the picturesque coastal roads of the Mediterranean. As a valued contributor to West Seattle Cyclery, Frank shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with our readers through informative articles, how-to guides, and gear reviews. Always eager to help fellow cyclists, Frank is dedicated to making the world of cycling more approachable and enjoyable for everyone. When he's not busy tinkering with bikes or writing for the blog, you can find him exploring new routes, coaching beginner cyclists, or spending quality time with his family and their beloved golden retriever, Buddy.