May 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm #1289835
This question has came up a few times amongst friends lately.
Living in Ohio there are a few great places to frequent for a weekend, however when time doesn't always allow such trips, how far are you willing to drive for a simple overnighter? By that I mean getting a few miles in before sun sets, waking up and packing the car up by noon. The closest trailhead which legally allows overnight is a two hour drive, which doesn't seem far at all to me, but some think that's crazy. How far do you drive for an overnighter and what do you consider too far?May 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm #1877016
2 hours seems reasonable. 3 is pushing it a bit for me, but I use to do it. A 3 day trip. 6 hours. We would all like to be closer to the trail.May 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm #1877017
Stephen MBPL Member
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
I am 6 hours drive from the nearest decent trail and 10 hours from decent mountains.
What a bummer :-(May 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm #1877020
Stephen. You just moved. Did you make it worse on yourself?May 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm #1877026
Stephen MBPL Member
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
I did just move from Europe Ken.
Work asked us to do a 3 year stint at HQ, kind of hard to refuse in the current economic climate, I can't really complain as I have some cool trips planned while here :-)May 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm #1877039
Nathan VBPL Member
@junkLocale: The Great Lake State
I have to drive about 3 hours to the nearest trailhead and about 4 1/2 to the nearest "good" trails. I wish it wasn't so far, but it is.May 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm #1877042
@lopezLocale: San Gabriel Valley
Depends on how bad you need it, how good you think it might be, and how much you hate driving. Usually a short overnighter like that has to be within a few hours for me. But I have driven 2hrs for a 4hr run in paradise, and I've also driven 11hrs for just an overnight at the GGG. Both we're awesome, glad I did it. This is rare though, most overnighters are in the 45min range.May 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm #1877043
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
About 3-4 hours in any direction for me, currently. Anymore gets to be more about driving (and getting gas, food, etc…) than hiking.May 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm #1877044
Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
Closest trailhead for me is about 5-10 minutes by car and offers plenty of high desert overnight potential, but for whatever reason or excuse, I never utilize the enormous amount of public land available to me locally for short backpacks. I do most of my running out there so I don't really view it as a place I would want to backpack, but it's totally doable if you're willing to pack in all/most of your water.
I have and will drive up to ~3 hours for an overnighter, but it's a rare occasion, usually reserving time away for trips ~4-5hrs away.May 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm #1877048
John DonewarBPL Member
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Texas
It all depends on how bad you've been bitten by the hiking bug.
I recently drove 4 and 1/2 hours to do a 24 hour hike in the Kisatchie National Forest.
But you also have to understand that I live in one of the flattest areas of the country. I drive 90 minutes to a state park just to get some semblance of hills when I train. There is also the side benefit of free overnight parking, rangers and local law enforcement patrolling the roads and no fees or permits required for using the hiking trails.
The picture in my avatar is the sunrise on the morning of the "second day" of my 24 hour trip.
NewtonMay 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm #1877049
Daniel CoxBPL Member
@cohikerLocale: San Isabel NF
Living in Colorado I'm extremely fortunate to have real mountains virtually in my backyard. When I lived in Colorado Springs, I could be in National Forest in 15 minutes, the trailhead was *almost* within walking distance.
Now days, the forest is 30-40 minutes from home.
For me, I wouldn't be willing to drive more than about 90 minutes for a single overnight, but that leaves probably 25 trails or areas in range.
I have driven all the way across the state, 5 hours, for something special like the Durango segments of the CT.May 12, 2012 at 5:55 pm #1877052
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Have no problem driving 5-6 hours to a trailhead in the Sierras for an overnighter. I also have the luxury of being 20 minutes to some in the Santa Cruz MountainsMay 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm #1877053
@leighbLocale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
It's 4 hrs from my front door to the nearest trailhead (SW AR, Ouachita Mts.)I try to do a trip at least every other weekend when the weather's cool, but it doesn't always happen. On school breaks (I'm in education)I will head farther, and when summer comes I try to plan a few trips out west, and spend more time canoeing.May 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm #1877055
Back when gas was cheap, we would jump in the car Friday night and drive all night to get to destinations 300 or more miles away for the weekend. But with freeway access you could cover ground easily. Now that I am 2+ hours from the interstate, getting away takes more time. Mattole trailhead at the Lost Coast is 48 miles from my front door. Takes an hour and a half to get there in good weather. Easily over 2 in bad.
I've heard that half of the US lives within a days drive of the AT. I do wonder what the average drive time is for folks getting out.
Gas prices have certainly curtailed my hiking further away from home. $4.60 a gallon here. Looking to get a more economical vehicle to extend my range.May 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm #1877058
Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
5-6 hours is about the max to drive after work and get decent sleep before hiking the next day. If you have more money than time, and you really, really want to get out, then it's worth it.
This is why I want to be able to 20 mile days. Not because I enjoy that sort of thing, but because I want to see as much as possible with limited time.May 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm #1877060
Andy ChasséBPL Member
@andycLocale: The Front Range
2ish hours is my limit for an overnight. However I'm lucky to live pretty close to a lot of great wilderness areas…the closest Pecos Wilderness TH being <1.5hrs away and the Sandias being just over a mile from my apartment. When I lived in Houston, I regularly made a 3-5 hour drive for weekend trips.May 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm #1877095
It depends. Like so many posters, I make exceptions for "special" trips.
I drive 3-4 hours each way for winter trips, and often those are just for the day. When it's not snow season, I typically am within two hours; but again, I've driven to Yosemite (~5 hours) just for a run.May 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm #1877099
@traumaheadLocale: Cen Cal
Usually 4 hours or less. I can be anywhere from SEKI to Yosemite, Whitney area or Death valley. Only pro living in Bakersfield gives me good access to either side of the Sierras.
But it's more of arriving at the trailhead at 2-3AM, hike in the next day and camp, then head home the next day. I don't think I would bother with a true overnighter in your example.May 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm #1877114
Thank you for all of the great responses everyone. For me the 'bug bite' is very frequent, as my schedule allows me to get 18-20 weekends out a year, including one 4-5 day trip, three full weekend trips, leaving the rest single overnighters. Perhaps I'm looking for justification here, but I wanted to see what everyone else's thoughts were.
I was driving home this afternoon thinking, I've put ~ $40 in the gas tank (split two ways), ~ $4 in food, and managed free time that is worth more than money. In total for around $24 to get out for a single night to get a great hike in, reset the mind, and start the new week off fresh, I don't know how that couldn't be worth it.
After seeing what a few others have to drive it seems as though the 2 hr drive is a real treat. Im glad to see others that share the same passion would do the same!May 13, 2012 at 5:56 am #1877151
@flriderLocale: The Southeast
My bike is my car, 90% of the time–including most of my hiking and camping trips. I also work the evening shift, so end-of-day for me is usually between 11 PM and 1 AM.
I've done overnight rides up to ~5 hours (~60 miles) in length to go for a day and a night at a trail before. It's an interesting experience, riding along mostly-deserted roads with the world narrowed down to just the white line to your left, the tiny area illuminated by your headlight, the occasional car racing past at 80 MPH, and the constant, Zen-like meditation-in-motion that riding becomes after the first few miles.May 13, 2012 at 7:07 am #1877162
Michael LBPL Member
I'd think 2 hours but I don't really do simple overnight trips. I'm too far from decent trails. So an overnight er is for an area I want to hit while on a longer extended vacation.May 13, 2012 at 10:03 am #1877207
Ryan CBPL Member
SW Ohio can be very boring. I would like to live elsewhere but there are worse places. I have driven all the way to the Appalachians for overnighters in the boonies several times. We usually stay a night in a hotel on the way in or out though.
Shawnee State Forest near Portsmouth is ok, less than two hours, and not crowded. The north loop (about 23 miles?) can be done as an overnighter.
East Fork State Park is very close, has an overnight use shelter, but can be crowded.
Have not been to Zaleski State Forest or Wayne National Forest yet but they are on the list of places to try.May 13, 2012 at 10:07 am #1877209
Roger BBPL Member
In my part of the world, I can use public transport and it will take me about 3 hours to get to a location where I can start an overnight hike. For day hiking it is much less.May 13, 2012 at 10:24 am #1877214
Dondo .BPL Member
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
My rule of thumb is a maximum of one hour of driving each way for every day I'll be out. So that comes to two hours for an overnighter, three for a three-day trip and so on. Occasionally, I'll stretch the rule a bit if it's place I really want to see.May 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm #1877279
Barry CuthbertBPL Member
@nzbazzaLocale: New Zealand
My typical weekend trips start on Fridays leaving work at about 4:30pm with the tramping gear loaded in the car all ready, drive anywhere between 1-4 hours (most weekend trips would be 1.5-3 hours drive away), tramp at night for 2-4 hours, although if driving 4 hrs on Friday night I prefer not to have to walk too far to the first campsite/hut. Depending on the trip, the length of drive home, and daylight hours, I try to be back at the roadend by 4-6pm on Sunday. Tramping at night on Sunday evenings usually means something has gone quite wrong (route-finding, injury etc.).
Essentially for me, that means tramping in the lower half the North Island of New Zealand from Tongario NP down to Wellington where I live. Anything further afield in the North Island or the top of the South Island requires a 3+ day weekend.
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