Several state parks in California have hike-in, and bike-in site at designated camping areas. Unlike dispersed camping, this often means developed campgrounds with fire rings, a picnic table, toilets and sometimes even running water and showers. Most developed drive-in campgrounds in California charge from $20 to $35 per night, but the walk / bike sites range from free to $7 per night.
A spot check of campgrounds with Reserve America shows the bike-hike campgrounds are not available for reservation; it appears they’re first come first serve. I’ve heard of a few times when people arrive at an occupied bike camping site, but the two groups share the site and make new friends. Note the bike camping sites are small compared to the drive in sites!
Not listed below: The backpacker camping sites along the lower six miles of the Skyline to the Sea trail in Big Basin State Park are bike accessible from Waddell Beach on Highway 1. These camping sites are popular with backpackers and advance reservation is required. You’ll share this trail with backpackers, equestrians, and numerous dayhikers, especially on the weekends.
Note: On the California State Parks website, you’ll see “walk-in” camping sites listed. This means you park your car in a parking lot and then walk back into the woods or to the beach a ways to your site. You’re still free to bike there, of course.
The information below comes from California State Parks, but may contain typos or be outdated due to state funding issues. I know of one camping area that closed the bike camping, for example, to cut costs. Before you embark on your trip, contact the state park or state beach to verify this information.
List of California State Parks with hike-in / bike-in camping
Del Norte County
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
El Dorado County
D.L. Blisss State Park 2 night maximum
Los Angeles County
Standish-Hickey State Recreational Area
Donner Memorial State Park 2 night maximum
San Luis Obispo County
Santa Barbara County
Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
McArthur – Burney Falls Memorial State Park
The other bonus is that walk-in and bike-in sites are usually a lot quieter. I can recommend the walk-in spots at Salt Point SP. There, pets aren't allowed in order to protect wildlife, so that's another thing to ask about when calling ahead.
Sonoma County Regional Parks offers 3 campgrounds with hike in/bike in sites available. Visit sonomacountyparks.org and click on camping – amenities. Or call (707) 565-CAMP for info. These sites are not reservable.
Very good to know! Thank you for that, Donna.
Just be careful at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The website is a bit unclear but they have less than five (I think only three) hike/bike sites in the entire park, all of which are at Burlington Campground. I was there with some friends on a tour and ended up having to pay $45 for a regular site since the campground we landed at didn't have any despite having >20 available sites.
I think that's true of most of the hike/bike camps — only a very small handful (often just one) available. I call ahead, though when touring it may be impractical to choose another area.
As of 2012-13… the State Parks along the Coast Route had 1 site available at most parks that were shared by ALL cyclists and hikers for $5-10 and were usually near toilets/showers but were worse for wear and often remotely way back in… sub par and low priority sites at best.
One night I had to hang my camp hammock (instead of ground tenting) over a large patch of poison oak… another night over a urinal that a “homeless” vagrant left behind after he was booted for hacking trees and overstaying his allotment.
Be aware that transient low life that happen to ride bikes (and walk in) are taking over the parks and abusing our privileges because it is cheap and rangers are not allowed to “discriminate” or “profile”… we will lose our sites or wind up paying more if it continues… it reflects poorly on cyclists altogether.