Is Backpacking Legal in California?

By Michael Ferguson

Backpacking in California is an exciting way to experience the Golden State and see its many wonders. It’s also a great way to save money on transportation and lodging.

But, is backpacking legal in California? The answer is a resounding yes!

The California state parks system allows for backpacking on its trails. This includes several wilderness areas and the John Muir Trail, which extends more than 200 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Visitors can also go backpacking in some of the state’s national forests, including the Angeles National Forest and Sequoia National Forest.

Backpackers need to be aware that some areas are off-limits. For instance, parts of Yosemite National Park are off-limits to backpackers due to environmental concerns. Also, visitors should be aware that backcountry camping permits are required in some areas, including Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Park.

Backpackers should also adhere to standard safety protocols while out on the trails. These include being aware of wildlife, avoiding drinking untreated water from streams or lakes, and carrying proper equipment for navigation and survival.


In conclusion, backpacking is legal in California as long as visitors adhere to all safety protocols and obey any regulations specified by each park or forest. With stunning scenery, thrilling adventure opportunities, and plenty of natural beauty to explore, California is an ideal destination for backpackers looking for a unique outdoor experience.