Golden State Adventure

teen summer hiking, community service, sea kayaking & surfing

Trip Details

  • Start: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • End: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Age Range: 12 - 14
  • Challenge Level (1-10): 3
  • Tuition: Tuition: $3299 (airfare not included)

Trip Dates

  • July 23 - July 31
  • August 4 - August 12

Trip Highlights

  • Hike and camp along the coastal bluffs and beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Sea kayak California’s iconic coast
  • Explore Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and the local Redwood groves
  • Surf Santa Cruz’s beautiful beaches with professional guides
  • Volunteer with the Half Moon Bay State Beach Rangers
  • Celebrate & explore in San Francisco

Trip Overview

Over the course of nine action-packed days, our Golden State Adventurers will explore some of coastal California’s most memorable sights. On this diverse itinerary, you’ll sea kayak the cool Pacific waters of Tomales Bay, explore the coastal bluffs of Point Reyes National Seashore, day hike through iconic Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and the Redwood groves outside of Monterey, hang ten as you surf with professional instructors in Santa Cruz, volunteer with the Half Moon Bay State Beach Rangers, and cap it all off by celebrating in San Francisco. Stunning ocean vistas, wildlife aplenty, and, last but certainly not least, a terrific new group of friends await!

Kayaking & Hiking in Point Reyes National Seashore

Kayaking & Hiking in Point Reyes National Seashore

On arrival in San Francisco, we’ll head over the Golden Gate Bridge to our first coastal campground of the trip. Here, we’ll learn the fundamentals of setting up tents, camp cooking and meals, and cooperative group living. After tackling our first hike along the bluffs of Point Reyes National Seashore, our professional guides will teach us the basics of sea kayaking, along with in-depth safety measures, before we set off to explore Tomales Bay and its abundant wildlife.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park & Coastal Redwoods

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park & Coastal Redwoods

Our next big adventure will take us south of San Francisco near the coastal hubs of Santa Cruz and Monterey. We’ll explore the iconic cliffs and beaches of Big Sur, and camp among the stunning Redwood groves in Henry Cowell Redwoods.

Surfing, Service & San Francisco

Surfing, Service & San Francisco

After a morning of surf lessons on one of Santa Cruz’s pristine beaches, we’ll make our way to Half Moon Bay State Beach. Here, we’ll spend our last full day together on a meaningful service project with the Park Rangers before heading to San Francisco to explore and celebrate our new friendships!

Trip FAQs

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

How physically challenging is GSA?

Given a rating of Challenge Level 3 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider GSA to be a beginner hiking trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete with some prior preparation. Compared to similar hiking trips, we believe that GSA is similar in challenge level to both Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and New England Mountains & Coast, but easier than California ‘s Coastal Mountains and Maine’s Downeast Explorer. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.

Where will my child be sleeping at night?

Our GSA groups will be camping every night in established, front country campsites over the course of our trip. Leaders will separate students by gender into tent groups and will rotate those groups several times over the course of our trip. Students will share a tent with one or two other students.

What is the maximum number of students I can expect on my child’s Apogee trip?

There are never more than fifteen students on an individual session of this trip. Additionally, we limit enrollment by gender to two-thirds/one-third. Groups are always led by three qualified leaders.

Is there a “backcountry” component to this trip?

In a word, no. All of the hiking on our GSA trip is on established and frequently-used trails. Some of the hiking includes trails that are more than one hour from definitive care (this is the usual definition of “backcountry” hiking). That said, our GSA groups camp in established campgrounds every night, and students can expect regular access to potable water, bathrooms, and showers.

How much weight will my child carry on the hiking portions of this trip?

Not a lot. As there is no overnight backpacking on this trip, your child will be carrying between five and ten pounds during their longer hikes, composed mostly of an extra layer of clothes, rain gear, water, and snacks.

What does the community service portion of this trip entail?

The specifics of our community service projects and the number of hours we volunteer varies slightly from year-to-year. In the past, we have worked with the Half Moon Bay State Beach park rangers on a variety of tasks, including invasive species removal, plant transplanting, etc. Students can expect to engage in three to five hours of community service work, usually over the course of one day.

How will I communicate with my child while they are on this trip?

We are a technology-free program, meaning that your child won’t have access to their phone or other electronics over the course of their trip. We have one mail stop on Golden State Adventure; parents, relatives, and friends are welcome to use this to send letters to a student. Note that we do not allow packages to be sent – letters and postcards only. If you have an urgent message to get to your child, please call our office and we’ll work to get you connected with your child.

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 GSA trip are pre-trip expenses, including travel to and from San Francisco, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and hiking boots.

My child will be flying to this trip start. How will they connect with their leaders?

Please note that Apogee staff members do not travel with students; our trip leaders will already be in San Francisco on arrival day and will stay in San Francisco after the trip ends. Apogee staff and trip leaders will have a detailed flight itinerary for each student who is flying to the trip start and will be at the airport to greet them on arrival. Once students are with their leaders, they will call home to let their parents know they have arrived and are with their group. Please see our blog post for specifics regarding students traveling as Unaccompanied Minors. Further, we encourage you to coordinate travel with other attendees; we’re happy to put you in touch with other enrolled families from your region. We will provide enrolled families with a Travel Information document covering details specific to traveling to and from San Francisco, including airport information and arrival and departure time windows. Please contact Apogee with any specific questions or concerns regarding drop-offs and/or pick-ups

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