Backpacking in Los Angeles: Discovering the City of Angels

Backpacking in los angeles

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Backpacking in Los Angeles is a memory you can never forget! Los Angeles may be known for its glitz and glamour, but the city also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure. If you are a backpacker and you haven’t try Los Angeles yet, then you are missing out a lot!

Backpacking in Los Angeles County allows visitors to experience the natural beauty of the region, from the rugged trails of the Angeles National Forest to the scenic coastline of Crystal Cove State Park.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice backpacker, Los Angeles has something to offer. With its diverse landscapes and mild climate, it’s an ideal destination for exploring the great outdoors.

Key Takeaways:

  • Los Angeles County offers a variety of backpacking trails for all skill levels.
  • The Angeles National Forest is a popular destination for hiking and camping.
  • Crystal Cove State Park offers scenic coastal trails with sweeping ocean views.
  • Backpacking in Los Angeles allows visitors to experience the city’s natural beauty, from mountain peaks to sandy beaches.
  • The mild climate makes backpacking in Los Angeles possible year-round.

Exploring the Natural Beauty: Backpacking Trails in Los Angeles

Angeles National Forest trail

If you’re looking for scenic and challenging backpacking trails, Los Angeles has plenty to offer. 

From the Angeles National Forest to the iconic Crystal Cove State Park, the city has something for every level of backpacker. 

For those seeking a higher level of difficulty, the San Jacinto Mountains offer a coveted challenge.

Trail NameDifficultyElevation GainNotable Features
Mount BaldyDifficult6,000 feetStunning summit views, challenging ascent
Crystal Cove State ParkModerate1,475 feetCoastal views, ocean breezes, and diverse wildlife
San Jacinto PeakDifficult8,000 feetUnmatched panoramic views, stunning alpine scenery
Angeles National Forest-Devil’s BackboneModerate to Difficult1,900 feetUnforgettable views of mountain ridges, deep valleys, and lush forests

Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or a beginner, the trails in and around Los Angeles offer a challenge and beauty that is unparalleled. 

Be sure to research each trail before heading out, bring enough water and supplies, and always leave no trace.

Backpacking Essentials: Gear and Safety Tips

backpacking gear

Before embarking on a backpacking adventure in Los Angeles, it’s important to have the right gear and safety knowledge to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Here are some essential backpacking tips to keep in mind:

Backpacking Gear

Having the right gear is crucial for a successful backpacking trip. Some of the essentials to include in your backpacking gear list are:

BackpackA good backpack with a comfortable frame and straps is essential for carrying your gear. Make sure it fits well and is suitable for your trip duration and capacity needs.
TentA lightweight and waterproof tent will protect you from the elements and provide a comfortable place to sleep.
Sleeping bagChoose a sleeping bag based on the expected temperature and climate of your destination, and make sure it’s lightweight and easy to pack.
Cooking equipmentBring a stove, fuel, and cooking supplies if you plan on preparing meals on your trip.
Water filter or purification tabletsYou’ll need a reliable way to access clean drinking water on your trip.
Navigation toolsBring a map, compass, and GPS device to ensure you stay on course.
ClothingDress in layers and pack appropriate clothing for the expected weather conditions. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

It’s important to carefully consider the weight of your gear, as carrying too much can quickly become a burden. Pack only what you need, and make sure your gear is lightweight and compact.

Backpacking Safety Tips

Backpacking can be a physically demanding activity, so it’s important to take proper safety precautions to prevent injury or illness. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout your trip.
  • Wear proper footwear that provides support and grip, and break in new shoes before your trip.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for hazards such as uneven terrain, slippery rocks, and wildlife.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Carry a first-aid kit and know how to use it in case of an emergency.
  • Be prepared for changes in weather conditions by packing appropriate clothing and gear.
  • Leave no trace by packing out all of your trash and following all local regulations for waste disposal.

By following these backpacking essentials and safety tips, you can enjoy a fun and safe backpacking adventure in Los Angeles.

Planning Your Backpacking Adventure: Itineraries and Permits

Los Angeles backpacking itinerary

Planning is crucial to a successful backpacking adventure in Los Angeles. 

It is essential to know the area you will be exploring, the length of your trip, and the necessary preparations you need to make. 

Here are some tips to help you plan your backpacking itinerary in Los Angeles:

Backpacking Itineraries

Los Angeles offers a variety of backpacking itineraries for beginners and experienced backpackers alike. Here are some sample itineraries for backpacking in Los Angeles:

  • A one-day backpacking trip in the Angeles National Forest
  • A two-day backpacking trip in the San Jacinto Mountains
  • A five-day backpacking trip in the Los Padres National Forest

These itineraries can be adjusted based on your preferences, fitness level, and time constraints. Make sure to research your chosen itinerary ahead of time to ensure that it is feasible and safe.

Backpacking Permits

Backpacking permits are required in Los Angeles for certain areas, including national and state parks. 

It is essential to obtain the necessary permits for your chosen itinerary before embarking on your backpacking adventure.

AreaPermit Required?
Angeles National ForestNo
Crystal Cove State ParkYes
San Jacinto MountainsYes
Los Padres National ForestYes

Make sure to check the specific rules and regulations for the area you will be backpacking in and obtain the necessary permits in advance.

Creating a well-planned itinerary and obtaining necessary permits will help ensure a safe and enjoyable backpacking experience in Los Angeles.

Budget Backpacking Options in Los Angeles

cheap backpacking in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is known for its glamorous lifestyle, but backpackers can still enjoy the city’s natural beauty on a shoestring budget. 

Here are some budget-friendly backpacking options in Los Angeles:

  1. Accommodations: Camping is a cheap and adventurous option for backpackers. Many of the hiking trails offer camping facilities, such as the campsites in Crystal Cove State Park. There are also a variety of hostels and budget motels in the city.
  2. Transportation: Public transportation is a convenient and affordable way to get around Los Angeles. The Metro Bus and Rail system has an extensive network throughout the city, with day passes costing only $7. Alternatively, backpackers can rent a bike to explore the beach or downtown areas.
  3. Meals: Food trucks and street vendors offer delicious and budget-friendly options for meals. The Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles also has a variety of affordable food vendors.

Here are some cheap backpacking options in Los Angeles:

Hiking in Griffith Park$0
Exploring the Venice Beach Boardwalk$0
Visiting the Getty Center$0 (parking is $20, but backpackers can take public transportation)

While backpacking in Los Angeles can be affordable, it’s important to budget for any necessary equipment. Here are some budget-friendly options for backpacking gear:

  • Outdoor retailers such as REI and Patagonia offer used gear at a discounted price.
  • Backpacking equipment can also be rented from local outfitters or online retailers, such as Outdoors Geek.

Remember to plan ahead and budget accordingly to ensure a successful and enjoyable backpacking experience in Los Angeles!

Top Backpacking Routes in Los Angeles

Los Angeles backpacking destinations

Los Angeles is a backpacker’s paradise, with a variety of routes and destinations to explore. 

Whether you are looking for a challenging trek or a leisurely hike, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. Here are some of the top backpacking routes in Los Angeles:

1. The San Gabriel Mountains

The San Gabriel Mountains offer a range of backpacking options, from easy day hikes to challenging multi-day treks. 

The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the range and is one of the most popular routes, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. 

For backpackers on a budget, the Gabrielino Trail is a great option, with plenty of campsites and scenic spots along the way.

2. The Santa Monica Mountains

The Santa Monica Mountains are a great destination for backpackers looking for a quick escape from the city. 

The Backbone Trail is a popular route, stretching over 60 miles through the mountains and offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. 

The Mishe Mokwa Trail is another great option for backpackers, with plenty of campsites and picnic areas along the way.

3. The Angeles National Forest

The Angeles National Forest is a vast wilderness area with over 700,000 acres of stunning scenery. 

The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the forest, offering backpackers a chance to explore some of the most beautiful terrain in the region. 

The Mount Baldy Trail is another popular option, with challenging terrain and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

4. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a hidden gem for backpackers, with miles of scenic trails and stunning ocean views. 

The park offers a range of backpacking options, from easy day hikes to challenging multi-day treks. 

The Moro Campground is a popular spot for backpackers, with plenty of campsites and amenities to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable.

These are just a few of the top backpacking routes in Los Angeles

Whether you are looking for a challenging trek or a leisurely hike, the City of Angels has plenty of options to suit your needs. 

And the best part? You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the great outdoors in LA.

Making the Most of Your Backpacking Experience: Tips and Tricks

Los Angeles backpacking tips

Backpacking in Los Angeles can be a thrilling adventure, but it is important to be prepared. Here are some useful tips and tricks to help you make the most of your backpacking experience:

Time Your Trip Right

Los Angeles can get hot in the summer, so plan your trip accordingly. Spring and fall are the best times to go backpacking in the city.

Know Your Limits

Make sure you choose a backpacking trail that matches your fitness level. If you are a beginner, start with an easy trail and work your way up to more challenging routes.

Pack Properly

Bring the right gear for your backpacking trip. A good pair of hiking boots, a lightweight tent, and a warm sleeping bag are essential. 

Don’t forget to bring plenty of water, food, and a first aid kit.

Stay Safe

Always follow safety guidelines and regulations while backpacking in Los Angeles. Be aware of your surroundings, stay on designated trails, and avoid hiking alone.

Explore Outdoor Activities

Los Angeles has many outdoor activities to offer, such as surfing, rock climbing, and mountain biking. Make the most of your backpacking trip and explore some of these activities!

Research Your Route

Before embarking on a backpacking trip, research the route thoroughly. Know the distance, elevation gain, and terrain of your chosen trail. This will help you plan your trip and avoid any unexpected surprises.

Take a Break

Backpacking can be physically challenging, so don’t forget to take breaks along the way. Enjoy the scenery, take some photos, and appreciate the beauty of nature.

“Backpacking is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Los Angeles. With the right preparation and mindset, it can be a truly unforgettable adventure.”

Exploring the City: Backpacking Beyond the Trails

Outdoor Adventures in Los Angeles

While LA is known for its stunning natural beauty, there is plenty to discover within the city limits as well. 

Incorporating urban hikes and cultural landmarks into your backpacking itinerary is a fantastic way to experience the city from a new perspective. 

Here are some top recommendations for exploring the outdoors in Los Angeles:

Urban Hikes

One of the best ways to explore the city on foot is to embark on an urban hike. 

The Los Angeles State Historic Park offers a 2.5-mile loop that takes hikers through vibrant neighborhoods and past notable landmarks such as City Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Griffith Observatory is another popular hiking destination, offering stunning views of the city skyline. 

The Observatory itself hosts a range of exhibits and events, making it a must-visit attraction for any backpacker in the city.

Cultural Landmarks

Los Angeles is home to a range of cultural landmarks that are well worth a visit. 

The Getty Center, located in the Brentwood neighborhood, features an impressive collection of art and stunning architecture that is sure to inspire any visitor.

The LA Philharmonic, housed in the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, is another must-visit landmark for backpackers interested in the city’s cultural scene. 

The hall’s unique architecture and stunning acoustics make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Local Attractions

Finally, no visit to Los Angeles would be complete without exploring some of the city’s top local attractions. 

The Santa Monica Pier is a classic destination, offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, a range of carnival rides, and plenty of delicious food options.

The Venice Beach Boardwalk is another popular spot, offering a range of street performers, vendors, and quirky shops. 

This 2.5-mile stretch of beachfront is a must-visit for any backpacker looking to experience the unique character of Los Angeles.

Backpacking Community and Resources

Los Angeles is home to a vibrant backpacking community that offers a wealth of resources and information for novice and experienced backpackers alike. 

From online forums to local meetups, backpackers in Los Angeles can connect with like-minded individuals and gain valuable insights into the best backpacking trails and destinations in the area.

One valuable resource for backpackers in Los Angeles is the Broke Backpacker website (Broke Backpacker). 

Founded by Will Hatton, a seasoned backpacker with years of experience exploring destinations around the world, the Broke Backpacker is an excellent source of information for budget-minded travelers. 

The website offers detailed guides and itineraries for backpacking in Los Angeles and beyond, as well as tips for finding affordable accommodations and transportation.

Backpacker contributors are also an excellent source of information and inspiration for backpackers in Los Angeles. 

By following experienced backpackers on social media or subscribing to their blogs, aspiring backpackers can gain valuable insights into the best trails, gear, and tips for backpacking in the City of Angels. 

Some popular backpacker contributors to follow include:

  • Adventurous Kate: Kate McCulley is a renowned backpacker and travel blogger who has visited over 70 countries. 
  • Her blog ( offers a wealth of information and insights into backpacking and travel in general.
  • Expert Vagabond: Matthew Karsten, also known as the Expert Vagabond, is a travel photographer and blogger who has been backpacking around the world for over a decade. 
  • His website ( offers a wide range of tips and advice for budget-minded travelers.
  • The Blonde Abroad: Kiersten Rich, also known as the Blonde Abroad, is a travel and lifestyle blogger who has been backpacking around the world for several years. 
  • Her website ( offers a variety of tips and insights into travel and backpacking.

Another valuable resource for backpackers in Los Angeles is the Backpacking Los Angeles travel guide.

This comprehensive guide offers detailed information on the best backpacking trails, destinations, and activities in and around Los Angeles. 

It also provides practical advice on equipment, safety, and transportation. By tapping into the resources and expertise of the backpacking community in Los Angeles.

Aspiring backpackers can gain the knowledge and skills needed to embark on a safe and enjoyable backpacking adventure in the City of Angels.

Protecting the Environment: Responsible Backpacking in Los Angeles

Responsible backpacking in Los Angeles

While backpacking in Los Angeles, it’s crucial to be mindful of the impact on the environment. 

Responsible backpacking practices not only preserve the natural beauty of the area but also ensure the safety of both backpackers and wildlife.

Backpacking Los Angeles on a shoestring? No problem! Here are some tips for responsible backpacking on a budget:

  1. Choose lightweight and durable backpacking equipment for Los Angeles, such as a reusable water bottle, a solar-powered charger, and a portable stove. 
  2. Minimize waste by bringing reusable utensils and containers.
  3. Obtain the necessary backpacking Los Angeles permits before embarking on a trip. This not only ensures compliance with local regulations but also helps rangers keep track of visitors and protect sensitive areas.
  4. When backpacking in Los Angeles, stick to designated trails and campsites to minimize human impact on the environment. 
  5. Avoid disturbing wildlife and observe proper food storage procedures to prevent attracting bears and other animals.
  6. Leave no trace when backpacking in Los Angeles. Pack out all trash, including food scraps, and avoid burying waste. 
  7. Carry out toilet paper and other waste, and use biodegradable soap for cleaning dishes and personal hygiene.

Planning to rent or purchase backpacking equipment in Los Angeles? Here are some essential items to look for:

BackpackA high-quality backpack that fits comfortably and has adjustable straps and a hip belt for support.
TentA lightweight and waterproof tent with adequate ventilation and a rainfly for protection.
Sleeping bagA warm and compressible sleeping bag suitable for the specific climate and season.
HeadlampA reliable and long-lasting headlamp for nighttime visibility and hands-free operation.
Water filtration systemA portable and effective water filtration system, such as a filter, tablets, or a UV purifier.

By following these tips and taking responsible measures, backpackers can help protect the environment and wildlife while enjoying the beauty and adventure of Los Angeles.


Backpacking in California is an unforgettable adventure, and the Los Angeles backpacking experience is no exception. 

With its diverse terrain, from scenic beaches to rugged mountain ranges, backpackers can explore the great outdoors while immersing themselves in the vibrant culture of the City of Angels.

This article has highlighted the various opportunities for outdoor exploration in Los Angeles County, including backpacking trails in the Angeles National Forest, Crystal Cove State Park, and the San Jacinto Mountains. 

It has also provided essential information on backpacking gear, safety tips, and planning itineraries, along with budget-friendly options for backpacking on a shoestring.

To ensure a responsible backpacking experience, it’s important to respect the environment and follow local regulations. 

Backpacking communities and resources, such as the Broke Backpacker and Backpacking Los Angeles travel guide, can offer valuable insights and advice from experienced backpackers.

Embarking on a backpacking adventure in Los Angeles is a unique way to experience the city and its surroundings. 

With insider tips, top backpacking routes, and recommendations for exploring the city beyond the trails, backpackers can make the most of their time in the City of Angels.

So grab your backpacking equipment and get ready for a thrilling adventure in Los Angeles. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or a novice.

The unique experience of backpacking in the City of Angels is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a newfound appreciation for the great outdoors.


  1. What is backpacking in Los Angeles?

    Backpacking in Los Angeles refers to the activity of exploring the city and its surrounding areas on foot, carrying all necessary gear and equipment in a backpack. It allows visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region and discover hidden gems beyond the typical tourist attractions.

  2. What are some popular backpacking trails in Los Angeles County?

    Los Angeles County offers a variety of stunning backpacking trails. Some popular options include exploring the Angeles National Forest, hiking through Crystal Cove State Park, and conquering the challenging San Jacinto Mountains. Each trail offers unique features and breathtaking views.

  3. What gear should I bring for backpacking in Los Angeles?

    When backpacking in Los Angeles, it is important to have essential gear such as a backpack, sleeping bag, tent, hiking boots, water filter, and cooking equipment. Additionally, it is crucial to pack appropriate clothing, first aid supplies, and navigation tools to ensure a safe and comfortable experience.

  4. Are permits required for backpacking in Los Angeles?

    Permits are required for backpacking in certain areas of Los Angeles. It is essential to check with the respective land management agencies or park authorities to obtain the necessary permits. This ensures compliance with regulations and helps protect the natural environment.

  5. Can I go backpacking in Los Angeles on a budget?

    Absolutely! Los Angeles offers budget-friendly options for backpackers. From affordable accommodations to discounted transportation and inexpensive meals, there are several ways to explore the city without breaking the bank. With careful planning and research, backpacking in Los Angeles can be a cost-effective adventure.

  6. What are the top backpacking routes in Los Angeles?

    Los Angeles boasts several top backpacking routes. Some popular options include the Pacific Crest Trail section within Angeles National Forest, the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Bridge to Nowhere hike in the San Gabriel Mountains. These routes offer stunning scenery and memorable experiences.

  7. What are some tips to make the most of my backpacking experience in Los Angeles?

    To make the most of your backpacking experience in Los Angeles, it is recommended to go during the optimal seasons, research and plan your itinerary in advance, stay hydrated, practice Leave No Trace principles, and take advantage of the various outdoor activities available, such as swimming, fishing, and wildlife spotting.

  8. Can I incorporate urban exploration into my backpacking adventure in Los Angeles?

    Yes! Los Angeles offers opportunities to explore the city while backpacking. You can embark on urban hikes, visit cultural landmarks, and explore local attractions. Incorporating these experiences into your backpacking itinerary allows for a well-rounded adventure that showcases both the natural beauty and urban charm of Los Angeles.

  9. Are there any backpacking communities and resources in Los Angeles?

    Yes, there are backpacking communities and resources available in Los Angeles. Websites, social media accounts, and blogs, such as Broke Backpacker and Backpacking Los Angeles travel guide, offer valuable information, tips, and insights from experienced backpackers. These resources are a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and gain insider knowledge.

  10. How can I be a responsible backpacker in Los Angeles?

    Being a responsible backpacker in Los Angeles involves respecting local regulations, minimizing environmental impact, and practicing Leave No Trace principles. Always follow designated trails, dispose of waste properly, and be mindful of the natural surroundings. By adopting responsible practices, you can help preserve the beauty of Los Angeles for future generations.

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