Why You Should Plan an Inn-to-Inn Hike in California

Distance walking, particularly inn-to-inn hikes, has always been popular among those who appreciate going on a pilgrimage. The popularity has increased significantly however over the past few years as people yearn to escape their hectic urban lives and find a deeper connection to nature.

If you’re wanting to explore the rugged Pacific coastline, hike the beautiful Sierra Nevada, or walk back in history along California’s great waterways but don’t fancy a PCT section hike or sleeping in a tent, an inn-to-inn hike is for you. Here’s why, according to Tom Courtney, author of Walkabout Northern California.

You get to see the California countryside

Hike the Marin Coast from the Headlands to Point Reyes, stopping each evening in a coastal village where you can explore the pubs and restaurants. Cross the Sierra in the footsteps of the pioneers, and stay in cabins on the shores of clear mountain lakes. Take a romantic stroll along the beautiful Mendocino Coast, and enjoy gourmet cuisine at inns perched on bluffs overlooking the vast Pacific. Walk along the shore of Monterey Bay, and marvel at the abundance of sea and bird life in its protected waters. Hike Lassen, exploring mountain lakes, deep canyons, and otherworldly hydrothermal landscapes, with a visit to a rustic guest ranch, where you will enjoy sumptuous dining and a muscle-soothing soak in hot springs.

You can be self-guided

Some of the great California inn-to-inn hikes described in Walkabout Northern California can take a week, but many can be enjoyed over a weekend. Some are challenging, but many are perfect for the casual hiker. Each chapter in the book describes one or more great California inn-to-inn hikes. At the end of each chapter, you will find a detailed description of the route, transportation alternatives to the trailhead and back, and information about places to stay. Use these to plan your walks. Read the whole section to get a flavor of the countryside; meet some of its denizens, both two- and four-legged; learn a little of its history; and know what villages, inns, and restaurants to expect along the way.

You can end the evenings as elegantly as you’d like

What is the recipe for a really great inn? A beautiful setting is probably the most important ingredient. Throw in a room that is spacious, quiet, and well lit, with a comfortable bed, and don’t forget a gracious innkeeper, one who cares about your comfort as if you were a friend. “Your clothes are wet. Let me throw them in the dryer.” “Can we pack you a lunch for tomorrow’s hike?”

The great thing about guidebook is that Tom offers many lodging options for different price points. Hikers can splurge on a comfortable bed and cushy setting, or stay in a low-cost campground.

You can have a unique and adventurous vacation

The multiday hiker derives a special joy from hiking in the wilderness. The tensions of the workaday world melt away. The mind slows as the miles pass, and your focus shifts to the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. You go not only into the woods but deeper into yourself. A walk in the wilderness is the antidote to the frantic pace of modern life. Leave the car behind to hike for a few days, and you have not only the time to process your to-do list and plan the work that needs to be done when the hike is over but also the time to daydream, to tell your friend a story that might take three days to complete, to contemplate, to meditate. If a pilgrimage is a walk to a sacred site, then perhaps nature’s wild places are our cathedrals, and every hike in the wilderness is a pilgrimage both to a place and into one’s heart.

Tanya Twerdowsky

I am a Jersey girl living in Alabama who loves to run far and eat lots.

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