Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

This summer my five girlfriends and I will be taking the walkabout of the southern California coast.  We're excited!  My first question is how we should pack.  I'm wondering if we should each take regular backpacks, or if we should put all of our things into a larger pack  or two and take turns carrying it.  Secondly, I'm wondering about timing our daily hikes with the tides.  Can you say a little more about that?  Should we research where the low tides would be at each point that would require a low tide crossing, or start the day at low tide?  How would we know when we could stop and take a swim break at various points along the way?  Thanks for your help!

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I think you will have a great time hiking inn-to-inn on the Southern California Coast this summer.  I just returned from a three day stroll from Newport Beach to San Clemente.  It was wonderful - charming inns, great dining, beautiful beaches, rugged secluded stretches, migrating whales, dolphins, sea lions.  It was April, but we swam every day!

Are you planning to walk the Malibu Coast?  That is an amazing shoreline.  Our new book - Walkabout Malibu to Mexico - Hiking Inn to Inn on the Southern California Coast is due to be published in June.  It covers a 200 mile stretch from North L.A. County to the border with Mexico.  Here are some excerpts from the book that I hope answer your questions.

Packing - I suggest you each carry carry a daypack.  " Choose a daypack that fits your shoulders and has a hip belt and sternum strap.  Even with a light load, your shoulders will be grateful at the end of the day that you carried most of the weight on your hips.  Once you are packed and ready, the pack should weigh 12-15 pounds.  Try to resist the urge to fill it. "

What to bring - 

  • One or two sets of hiking clothes, depending upon the length of the walkabout
  • Extra socks and underwear that can easily be washed and dried overnight
  • Hat with a brim
  • Overshirt for warmth that is nice enough for dinner in a restaurant
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a small first-aid kit with adhesive pads for blisters
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Water
  • Tide tables. You can find accurate tables at http://tidesonline.nos.noaa.gov/geographic.html
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Swimsuit for the beach, pool, or spa and a small towel
  • Minimal toiletries because your inn should provide soap, shampoo, and lotion
  • Lunch plus some high-energy trail bars or other trail snacks
  • Multi-tool pocketknife

Optional items:

  • An extra light weight layer for warmth in the evening or through the fog
  • A lightweight change of clothes for dinner
  • Light sarong for beach lounging and toweling off
  • Rain jacket during rainy season, small enough to fit into a small stuff sack
  • Rain pants
  • Insect repellent
  • Bandana
  • A few Ziploc plastic bags
  • Binoculars
  • Compass and maps
  • Camera
  • Extra batteries
  • Paperback book or electronic reader
  • A journal
  • GPS receiver
  • Waterproof matches or lighter
  • Hiking poles

The new book and the Malibu Coast guide (which is the first chapter in the book) provide information about which spots will be tricky when the tide is higher.  Go to http://tidesonline.nos.noaa.gov/geographic.html for tide tables and time your hike to hit those spots around low tide.  The book also provides alternative routes if you need to leave the shore and head inland for a spell.

It is wise to swim where others are swimming.  You will find countless opportunities along the way.

Have a great hike.  Let us know if you have any more questions, and tell us how the hike went when its over.

Happy hiking

Tom Courtney

Hiker and Author

Walkabout California

Thanks, Tom!  Yes, we are hiking the Malibu coast.  You might be interested to know how this came about.  I'm from southern California, though I don't live in CA anymore.  Years ago I was visiting my parents, who still live there, and I read an article about you and your daughter in Sunset magazine.  The idea of hiking inn-to-inn stuck with me.  For years I tried--to no avail--to search that article online.  Somehow--and I can't remember how--I finally came across information about you and discovered that you were soon to publish a guide to hiking the coast in So Cal.  Last year I bought your guide, and this summer our walk is finally going to happen!  I'm really excited. 


I hope you and your friends have a great trip! I'm looking forward to hearing about it. The Newport Beach to San Clemente hike that Dad mentions was actually with Sunset Magazine! They're working on a feature article about the new Walkabout Malibu to Mexico book for the December edition of the national publication. You can find the previous Sunset articles on our Walkabout in the Press page.

Enjoy your vacation hiking from inn to inn!



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