There’s nothing quite like a return to nature, with an honest experience of the great outdoors. We’re not talking about hotels, motels and luxury cabins in the country, but the slew of great free campsites scattered up and down the West Coast. The facilities here are rudimentary, with no showers or running water available, but with views this good, who cares?
Gumboot Campground, California
Situated on the northern edge of a tranquil lake bordered with Alpine forest, this idyllic campsite is open from June through October. There are two additional lakes in the area and great hiking options including the Gumboot Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. From there you’ll have access to spectacular views of Mount Shasta and the Trinity Alps. The campsite has a vault toilet and room for six, but don’t expect anything more.
Laird Lake Campground, Oregon
Owned by the U.S. Forest Service, this sweet spot is situated 1,600 feet above sea level on the pretty shores of Laird Lake. The campground is one of the most private and secluded, and between the lush surroundings and panoramic lake views, it may be the best sleep you ever have. Provisions of picnic tables and fire pits have been made, but there’s no running water or trash cans. Plus, with no reservations and only four spaces, you’ll need to get there early to pitch your tent.
Jackass Springs Campground, California
A more sociable experience might be found beside the shores of Trinity Lake in northern California, where the Jackass Springs Campground accommodates up to 10. There’s no piped water here, but there are toilets, picnic tables, and room for one 32-inch trailer. Don’t miss this opportunity to hike the trails of Shasta–Trinity National Forest, which are nothing short of spectacular.
Hot Springs Campground, Oregon
One of several free campsites available on the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Hot Springs Campground is a remote spot that does what it says on the tin. Perfectly situated for hiking at the beginning of the Warner Peak Trail, campers benefit year round from natural hot springs to rest their weary limbs.
Goldfield Campground, California
Widely touted as California’s best free campsite for trekking around the Golden State, Goldfield is an excellent base camp for backpackers wanting to explore. Venture forth onto the trail along Boulder Creek that leads into the Trinity Alps Wilderness, one of the biggest in the state, and enjoy the peerless scenery en route. The campground has a total of six units, which permits trailers up to 16 feet.
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