Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

My sister (who lives in Stanwood WA) and I (living in the Sacramento Valley) are intrigued by the idea of "doing" the Mendocino hike. We are concerned about some details, however, like: how to get from the ending point back to the starting point. Do you have someone drop you off and meet you at the other end? Is there a "hidden" part of the hike which means you actually walk back again to the starting place? Also, what time of year would you recommend for the Mendocino hike? What is the approximate cost for taking this hike for hotels, meals, drinks, equipment, etc.? Thanks for the answers and pardon our ignorance. We would really like to do this together and are looking forward to planning our trip.

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I think you and your sister will love hiking inn-to-inn on the Mendocino Coast.

With two days of easy to moderate hiking, you’ll explore coastal redwood forests and some of the most spectacularly beautiful coastline in California. Heidi and I did this hike in early June. Wildflowers – lupine, forget-me-nots, paint brush, violets and native rhododendron- decorated the woodlands. Fields of wild strawberry, poppies, iris, and buttercups graced the coastal headlands. Spring and fall are the best times for this walkabout, avoiding the winter rains and the summer fog.

Each Walkabout California guide includes information on places to stay, maps, and detailed trail routes. They also include information on how to return to your starting place. The manager of the Albion River Inn generously sent one of her staff to pick us up in Mendocino at the end of our journey, but there is also a taxi service that costs around $22 to bring you back from Mendocino to Albion.

You don’t need much equipment, mainly a good pair of hiking boots and a daypack. Please check out the Walkabout forum “What should I pack on my inn-to-inn hike?” Travel light. Your pack should weigh less than fifteen pounds.

There is one expensive B&B on this walkabout, The Albion River Inn, but it is one of our favorite inns on the California coast. Perched on the coastal cliffs, it offers a gourmet restaurant, beautiful rooms and private porches with Adirondack chairs overlooking a narrow bay and the vast Pacific. The “Places to Stay” section of the guide lists several inns in the $100 - $130 range. There are many places to stay in the town of Mendocino, and the Walkabout guide lists a few. Are there favorite Mendocino inns, pubs, or restaurants that readers can recommend?

Carol, it is so much fun to explore the remarkable Mendocino Coast at two miles an hour and to end each day at an interesting inn with a great meal, a glass of wine and a comfortable bed. Enjoy your walkabout.

Tom Courtney

My wife and I are also considering the Mendocino hike this year.  We've done some inn to inn hiking in Europe (we are Canadians but my wife is from Scotland) so we're familiar with how it works and we are excited to try something in North America. 

I'm curious about luggage transfer between inns.  We'd like to have a change of clothes each night, and some luxuries that we wouldn't want to carry in our daypack.  (I've backpacked in my youth, and the days of 40 lb packs are behind me now!)I can see that the distances by road are not great, so it is just a logistical question of moving our car (and our luggage) from inn to inn, either at the start of the day or the end of the day.

Does anyone have a recommendation?  For example, would it be easy to grab a taxi from the Little River Inn back to the Albion River Inn at the end of day 1?  It's a short hop, but are there taxis available from the Little River Inn?

I know we might be able to prevail on a friendly local or innkeeper for a ride, but I'd like to be self-sufficient and know there is a definite plan so we can relax all day without worrying about logistics at the end of the day.


You and your wife have chosen a fantastic walkabout -  the Mendocino Coast.  It combines hiking through the extraordinary redwood forests of the coastal range and along the rugged, beautiful Pacific Coast.  Along the way you will stay in charming inns and dine on sumptuous cuisine. 

There is no formal system for transporting luggage, but there are some options.  As you pointed out, the distances between inns by car are very short.  The inns will store luggage for you.  You can drop off a satchel at the inns with a change of clothes before you start the hike.  Then pick up what you don't want to carry after you have finished.

I can empathize with being past the days of carrying a 40 lb pack.  Even on longer inn-to-inn hikes, my day pack weighs less than 15 pounds.

Another alternative is to talk to your innkeepers when you make reservations.  They are now accustom to folks taking a walkabout and arriving on foot.  They have been very generous, and may be happy to transport your gear.

You can also arrange for a taxi and coordinate with your innkeeper.  Hey Taxi at 707-962-0800 should be able to transport your luggage for around $20-25.

Finally, the Mendocino Transit Authority (MTA) (www.4mta.org or 800-696-4682) runs two buses north and south each weekday.  I don't think this will be the best way to move luggage, but it is a very convenient and inexpensive way to return from Mendocino to Albion.

I hope this is helpful.  Let us know if you have any more questions, and please tell us how you enjoyed the Mendocino Coast walkabout.

Happy hiking,

Tom Courtney

Thanks for the information, Tom. We are planning to do the walk in June, and we will post a trip report. By the way, we bought the digital version of your book and love it! Keep up the good work promoting inn to inn hiking in North America. We need more resources like your book and website to help "connect the dots" closer to home so we don't always have to go to Europe to experience the joys of luxury hiking.

Are you working on another book?

Hi, Tom.  We've had a change of plans and now it looks like we are going to walk the Mendocino coast in September instead of June.  Checking weather data online, it looks like temperature is high 50's, low 60's most of the year, but it does look like statistically September gets more rain than June.  We've hiked the West Coast Trail in Scotland, so we know a lot about hiking in the rain...but it isn't our favourite activity!  Do you have any comments to offer on the weather in September?


September is one of the best months to hike the Mendocino Coast.  We enjoy a Mediterranean climate in Northern California.  Our rainy season usually runs from November through March.  You might get some morning and evening fog in the summer, but spring and fall are ideal for hiking the coast.  I usually take a light rain jacket in case it is foggy, but the September weather should be wonderful.  Enjoy your inn-to-inn adventure on the Mendocino Coast.

Tom Courtney


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