How many participants are in any given adventure?
By keeping our group sizes small with 6-10 participants, we are able to make each trip personal for every adventurer and help foster a strong trail community.
What does the average overnight program look like?
Participants are greeted by the guides at the predetermined staging area near the trailhead where the adventure begins. Following some fun name games and introductions, the guides will issue the hiking gear that is to be used throughout the trip. The guides will share safety briefings, learn about participants’ goals for the program, and answer any questions before hitting the trail. Day One brings us beyond the bustle of other hikers into the beautiful serenity of the backcountry. In the afternoon or early evening, we arrive at our stocked campsite that is equipped with all of the top-of-the-line camping gear for a comfortable evening under the stars. After we set up our tents and have some time to relax, a fresh dinner is shared amongst our new trail family. Once we have had our fill of delicious food and each other’s good company, we head off to bed in preparation for tomorrow’s big hike.
Day Two begins with warm drinks and an energy-packed breakfast. After breaking down camp, we load our daypacks with our essentials and start off our adventure in the cool temperatures of the early morning. Rugged landscapes ranging from sweeping mountains, lush woodlands, and panoramas of the Pacific revive our spirits through the restorative power of nature. The group refuels with lunch on the trail and cools off in the shade before heading out once more. Along with the beautiful scenery, the journey is filled with amusing trail games, puzzling riddles, and the discovery of hidden geocaches that few have the fortune of finding. We arrive at our new campsite, set up our home for the evening, and enjoy a hearty dinner. Our last night in the backcountry is spent sharing stories with our trail companions and taking in the beauty of our Mediterranean surroundings. The following day, we hike out to the last trailhead of the trip and celebrate the time we got to share with one another.
I’ve never slept in a backcountry tent before… what is that like?
It’s not as nerve-racking as you might think! In contrast to the typically complicated car-camping shelters, the sleek yet spacious three-person NEMO tents are larger than most of its backcountry counterparts and makes you feel like a true mountaineer. On a clear night, you have the option of rolling back part of your rainfly so that you can fall asleep watching for shooting stars within the comfy confines of your tent. You will have the chance to share this camping experience with the tentmate of your choice. For those adventuring with us in the youth programs, girls will tent with girls and boys with other boys. If a girl and a boy sibling would like to share a tent, just let us know prior to the trip so that we can accommodate the request. Certain campsites will have enough space to allow for campers to have their own tent for the evening if they choose.
Will there be toilets for me to use while on the trip?
Surprisingly, yes! At each private campsite, there will be a clean, flushing toilet that only Trail Magic Adventures participants will have access to. There are also public toilets for use at many of the trailheads and some are found at certain trail junctions. If nature calls when there’s no toilet around, an extended learning opportunity awaits you as our experienced backcountry guides will happily teach you the way of the woods.
How many guides will be on the adventure with us?
For all overnight programs, there will be two professional backcountry guides leading the group. For day hikes with adults that have a small number of participants, one guide will be lucky enough to go adventuring for the day.
Is it appropriate to tip my guides?
Certainly! As you will see, your guides will be working very hard to provide an enjoyable hiking and camping experience for you. If you feel that they did a good job, please feel free to tip them. When not leading adventures with the participants, the guides are still hard at work hiking out gear and supplies to each campsite before and after the program so that the participants can have an enjoyable backcountry camping experience without burdening themselves with heavy overnight backpacks.
What is geocaching? Will we have the chance to look for some along the way?
Geocaching is a worldwide phenomenon of outdoor adventure and discovery of hidden treasures. Participants on a Trail Magic Adventures’ program will have the opportunity to learn how use waypoints on a GPS to navigate the group to cleverly hidden containers along the Backbone Trail. Adventurers will have the option of trading small trinkets and/or can sign the geocache’s logbook.
How good of shape should I be in for these hiking programs?
Although the miles and difficulty level will vary from one section to another, hikers on our programs can expect to have mileage ranging anywhere from 3 to 10 miles in a day. Each adventurer will have a daypack with their essentials and will be hiking on varied terrain. There will be plenty of water and food breaks, along with points of interest and picture-taking stops. Whatever level of fitness you are in, the experienced backcountry guides will manage the trip safely and will cater the pace to the group’s abilities.
How cold can it get at night?
In the summer months, nightly temperatures are typically in the high 50s into the 60s. The winter months can bring the mountain temperatures down to the high 20s through the 40s. Coming prepared with some warm thermals that can be layered together will make for a happy camper!
My dream is to one day complete a longer thru-hike like the John Muir Trail or the AT… would thru-hiking the Backbone Trail be good training for me?
Absolutely! Joining us for one of our scheduled 7-10 day thru-hikes or customizing one to match your fitness goals can be a great stepping stone in preparing for longer excursions. You will be able to learn and practice backcountry techniques that professional guides use for trekking, camping, cooking, orienteering, and preparation for extended expeditions.
My teenager has a friend or a sibling that is in the other age group and they want to hike together – is that a possibility?
It definitely is! We have the two different age groups of 12-14 and 14-17 in order to structure each program to fit the physical, developmental, and social levels of the specific ages, so we do ask that you take a moment to consider whether or not your child would still have an enjoyable time in the older or younger setting. If both you and your teenager are excited to give it a go, just shoot us an email prior to signing up and we’ll do the best we can to make sure that the trip is remains fun for both your child and the rest of the group.
Do the hikes run rain or shine?
In most cases, yes. However, a program might be modified or postponed if portions of the trail have been severely affected by the weather. We may reverse days, use different trails, and/or switch the section that we are hiking on to account for the change in terrain conditions. Participants are provided with rain jackets on every program regardless if there is rain in the forecast as it can also be used as a wind or shell layer at the hiker’s discretion.
Can I bring my own overnight equipment like my sleeping bag or tent?
You can if you would like to. However, we would be unable to get your overnight gear to each campsite prior to our arrival so you would be carrying that extra weight for the duration of the hike. Our All-Inclusive service is set up to provide you with everything that you would need so that you only have to carry daypacks and your essentials.
I want to do one of your Section hikes but I can’t make the dates that are scheduled. Can I request another day?
You sure can! That would normally fall under a Custom trip where you have the opportunity to decide when, who, and where you would like to go. You can also ask that your requested hike be placed on the public calendar so that other people outside of your group can sign up for it as well. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or ideas about how we can make the trip the most enjoyable for you!
I see that you offer youth, adult, and active senior programs, but I can't find any on the calendar. Why is that?
At this time, these hikes are given on a per request basis. Our standard programs, which involve individuals ages 12 and up, are currently scheduled for all open sections of the Backbone Trail. If you are interested in being a part of an all youth, all adult, or an active senior program, please reach out and we would be happy to place that program on our calendar!
I would like to request a youth, adult, or custom program – can I ask for dates that already have a program on it?
You may! With enough notice, there is a good chance that we can swap out trips on our calendar to suit your needs. Although we cannot guarantee that we will be able to offer you your desired dates, we will do our best to make sure that you’re a happy camper.
I'm a solo traveler. How does your single accomodations policy work?
If you are willing to share a tent with a same-sex tentmate, we will do our best to pair you with another single so that we can keep costs low for both of you. If we are unable to locate a tentmate for you, we will not charge you any additional fees. If you specifically request to have a private tent for yourself, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee indicated for your trip. A limited number of single accommodations are available, and are assigned only as necessary.