The best inn-to-inn hikes in California

Tom Courtney had a revelation in 2006, while hiking up to the top of a ridge in the Marin Headlands for the spectacular view he knew awaited him. When he finally reached the summit, he was able to see 38 miles clear to the north, all the way to the enduring peninsula of Point Reyes, with endless stretches of green and blue between.

It was a sight to behold, but Courtney soon found himself wondering how he could get from here to there. He wondered: Could he, an avid hiker who had hiked from inn to inn across various countries in Europe, hike those 38 miles? And what charming inns could he rest his head at along the way? Courtney opened his maps and began calling in reservations along the route.

It was the beginning of Courtney’s love for inn-to-inn hiking, a style that allows hikers to leave the gear behind and focus on their stride and the nature surrounding them. Most inn-to-inn hikers need only a minimal day pack of 12 to 15 pounds, with most of it comprised of water, along with a first-aid kit, flashlight, cell phone, and rain jacket.

Over years of research, Courtney was able to compile his knowledge into a book called Walkabout Northern California: Hiking from Inn to Inn, which included hikes across the north, south, and interior of the state. A separate book, Walkabout Malibu to Mexico, came out soon after. This year, Courtney updated his Northern California guide with current information on inns and nature trails, plus new color photos.

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