California Mountains & Coast


Challenge Level: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Trip Details

  • Trip Start: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Trip End: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Age Range: 13 - 15
  • Trip Dates: 6/30 - 7/12, 7/16 - 7/28, 8/01 - 8/13
  • Tuition: $3295 (airfare not included)

Trip Highlights

  • Sea Kayak Point Reyes’ Tomales Bay
  • Backpack stunning Yosemite Nat’l Park
  • Surf California’s Half Moon Bay
  • Explore San Francisco

Trip Overview

California is beautiful.  It is also physically and ecologically diverse, with endless opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure. To show you what makes “The Golden State” so special, we’ve crafted the perfect 13-day teen summer adventure trip. You’ll sea kayak through stunning, Mediterranean-like waters in Point Reyes National Seashore’s Tomales Bay, hike alpine trails through High Sierra forests, explore the breathtaking scenery in Yosemite National Park’s backcountry, and enjoy a morning of surfing on California’s iconic coast. Capped off with a day in San Francisco, this action-packed backpacking adventure is a perfect balance of activities to show you and your new friends the very best of California.


Our group will meet at the San Francisco International Airport and transfer to coastal forests north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  After a first night of orientation amid the redwoods, we’ll set off early the next morning to meet our sea kayaking guides at Point Reyes National Seashore. There, we’ll learn the fundamentals of safe paddling before venturing out along one of the most pristine, protected coastlines in America. After two days on the water, and an amazing night under the stars, we’ll leave the coastline for the majesty of the High Sierras.


After crossing California’s verdant Central Valley, we’ll transfer into the clean, fresh air of the Sierras. The next several days will be spent day hiking through forested canyons and groves of ancient redwoods. Our confidence will grow with every step as we take in 100-mile vistas from mountain peaks. After breaking in our boots, we’ll light out for Yosemite National Park. There, in the shadow of El Capitan, we’ll explore world-famous Yosemite Valley. Now it’s time to head for the Park’s high country, where we’ll strap on our backpacks and spend three spectacular days and nights trekking in the backcountry of this national treasure.


After emerging from the backcountry, we’ll make our way back to the coast and Half Moon Bay. There we’ll spend a gratifying morning giving back to the community working with the rangers at the state park. We’ll also throw on wetsuits and practice our best “pop up” before riding real waves at Half Moon Bay’s gorgeous, and beginner-friendly, surfing beach. After countless adventures in the outdoors, our hiking trip will conclude with a final day together exploring and celebrating in San Francisco. A perfect ending to our Golden State summer adventure program!

Trip FAQs

Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!

How physically challenging is CMC?

Given a rating of Challenge Level 5 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider CMC to be a intermediate hiking trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete with some prior preparation. Compared to similar hiking trips, we believe that CMC is slightly more challenging than Maine’s Downeast Explorer (mostly due to the extended backcountry portion, slightly longer distances, and hiking at altitude in Yosemite National Park), but easier than Northwest Explorer. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.

What is the difference between frontcountry and backcountry hiking? What will the backcountry portion of CMC be like? How much weight will my child carry during this portion?

Generally speaking, the front-country is any area that is easily accessible by vehicles and day users. Hiking in the backcountry, on the other hand, involves hiking and camping in more remote locations without running water or immediate access to advanced medical care. Hiking and camping in the backcountry requires more preparation because of the need to carry in all food and equipment, and treat drinking water prior to consumption. Our CMC trip has two backcountry portions:  a two-night sea-kayaking expedition in Point Reyes National Seashore’s Tomales Bay, and a three-night backpack in the High Sierras in Yosemite National Park. Your child should expect to carry somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds in their pack during this backcountry section.

Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?

Apogee’s tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our California Mountains & Coast trip will include travel to and from San Francisco, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, a backpacking pack, and hiking boots.

Should my child bring any special gear for sea kayaking?

In short, no. Your child will be suitably prepared for sea-kayaking (and all of the activities on the CMC trip) if you follow the packing list we provide. Apogee’s outfitters provide all kayak-specific gear, and the packing list includes everything else that your child will need.

What luggage should my child check on the plane? What should be carried-on?

This question is addressed in detail in our Trip Information Packet for enrolled students. Generally speaking, however, your child will be checking a soft-sided duffel containing the majority of their gear, while carrying-on their sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and a few other travel essentials.

To check trip availability, please call 207.725.7025, or email for more information.