I recently bought the Northern California edition of the California Hiking Map, and I’m mightily impressed — tons of trails! In this review I’ll describe the main features of the map, share what I like most about it, and provide one suggestion for improving future editions.
What Is the California Hiking Map?
The California Hiking Map displays all — or nearly all — of the accessible hiking trails in the state. It comes in three versions:
- The entire state
- Northern California
- Southern California
Who Created the California Hiking Maps?
The creator is Jason Mandly of Chico, California. Jason and his wife are avid hikers. He saw that no comprehensive map of the state’s hiking trails had yet been created, so he undertook the monumental task himself.
What’s Great About the Northern California Hiking Map?
Here are eight things about the Northern California Hiking Map that I really appreciate…
1. It gives you the “big picture” of all your trail options in the state. It shows you all the trails that are near you, and the ones that are in the places you most want to explore.
2. You get ideas for areas you want to explore, but that haven’t yet been on your radar. You’ll also spot clusters of trails where you didn’t even know anything was there — Lava Beds National Monument, for example.
3. Jason has blown-up portions of the California Hiking Map to cover two areas especially dense in trails: Marin County and the San Francisco Bay Area.
4. It’s a big map. The Northern California Hiking Map, the one I have, measures 27″ by 39″. The full California Hiking Map is 40″ by 60″, and the Southern California Hiking Map is 39″ by 27″.
5. It has many hundreds of trails, possibly in excess of a thousand. Jason sought to include all publicly accessible trails on government lands, and I think he’s got just about all of them.
6. The Pacific Crest Trail is prominently marked.
7. There are a lot of trails, but… you can actually read the name of each trail without a magnifying glass. Impressive!
8. The map is beautiful! It’s well designed and looks great on my wall.
And How Could the Northern California Hiking Map Be Improved?
I love this map, but it has no roads on it at all. Because I’ve traveled all over Northern California researching my hiking guidebooks, I have a good understanding of the region’s geography, so I usually know what highways are nearby. But most people don’t have that detailed knowledge. If they see hikes in a specific area, it would really help to know how near — or far — the nearest highway is.
I understand that there’s limited space and a lot of info to fit into that space, but just including the 20 or 30 most important highways and freeways in Northern California would be huge. For instance, in the region I know best, the area covered by my books Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions and Hike the Parks: Redwood National & State Parks, having Interstate 5 and Highways 36, 44, 299, 3, 101, and 199 would be a big help.
How Do I Buy my Preferred Version of the California Hiking Map?
Jason would likely appreciate it if you bought directly from him, since he makes more money that way. Check out his website here.
However, you can buy the full version of the entire state on Amazon, but apparently not the Northern California version or the Southern California version.
Your Take on the California Hiking Map
Thoughts or questions? Ask below, or contact the creator, Jason Mandly.