California’s Bike Camping Network
The Pacific Coast bike route is a popular route for touring cyclists. While we haven’t done the route yet ourselves, we have met quite a few folks who have and have recently learned that the California State Park system has set up a network of campsites especially for cyclists. It turns out that for the bicentennial celebration the State Parks instituted the Bicentennial Bikeway along California’s coast and to this day many State Parks on and off the coast maintain campsites just for touring cyclists and hikers.
The campsites are known as Hike and Bike sites and you can get information on them on the State Parks website. These sites can’t be reserved and are available on a first-come first-served basis. The best thing is that they are also available at a discount! While some parks charge upwards of $30 a night for camping, the Hike and Bike sites are always less. The State Parks website doesn’t reveal how much they are exactly but rumor has it they are all $5 or less.
This network certainly has my tour-planning gears in motion. Below you can see a map I made of all the State Parks that have Hike and Bike Sites.
View California Hike and Bike Campgrounds in a larger map
From what I have learned some of these sites may be closed due to problems with hobos (especially the more urban areas) and you are never guaranteed a spot. Other anecdotes say that rangers will go out of their way to accommodate touring cyclists and even if the campground is full they will usually let you pitch your tent somewhere.
I am curious to try out some of the local sites to see if they actually exist. Mount Tamalpias State Park for example is very close to San Francisco and is packed with day-riders almost every day. Is it possible that I could bike over there with camping gear and spend the night for $5?
If anyone has had experience with these sites we’d love to hear about it. Stay tuned for stories about our California tours in the future!