Trail Mavens


Skill-based camping and backpacking trips for groups of extraordinary women. Ready to build fires, read maps, pitch tents, hike, laugh, and drink wine around the campfire? Join one of our weekend adventures.

Maven Memoir: Jennel, a.k.a. My Spirit Animal

I'm beyond excited to publish our second Maven profile today on the blog, mostly because the woman it's about - Jennel McDonald - was an incredible inspiration to me and the other women on our adventure.

It might have been Jennel's first time backpacking, and we covered some very legit terrain, but her enthusiasm and easy laugh were a constant, and it just made her so darn fun to be around.

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Hiking the John Muir Trail

Why hike the JMT? 

When asked why climb Everest in the 1920s, George Mallory famously said, “Because it’s there.” Implied: to be conquered. A classic expression of man against the mountains machismo if ever there was one. The thing is, for me, it’s not because they are there, it’s because WE are there. Or rather, here, on Earth. We spend so much of our lives trying to effect change (in ourselves, others, and our physical surroundings) that I like being reminded of how small we are, one tiny part of a grander landscape. To tread lightly, for once, and leave no trace. 

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Maven Memoir: Michelle, a.k.a. 'Dallas'

A couple weeks ago, brainstorming with the Trail Mavens board, we struck on a brilliant idea: to profile Trail Mavens alumnae who we feel are amazing, badass, and deeply emblematic of our culture and values. It's only fitting that we kick things off with Michelle, who joined us in early June for her first-ever backpacking trip. 

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Trail Mavens Guide | Anderson Valley and Mendocino

When most people hear 'California wine country,' they think Napa or Sonoma. Those two are nice and all, but we'll take the Anderson Valley's wine growing region anytime: it's unpretentious, grows some of the greatest white wine and Pinot Noir in America, and sits nestled among towering redwood trees, only 15 miles away from Mendocino's rugged coastline. In short, it's our favorite place in California.

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Trail Mavens Guide | Scoring NorCal's Most Coveted Campsites

Booking campsites in Northern California is a little like finding a brand-new pair of hiking boots in your size at REI's monthly garage sale: three parts timing, one part luck. We can't help with the luck part, other than encouraging you to send lots of good karma out into the world and follow Leave No Trace principles, but we can help with the timing. Here's how to land campsites at some of Northern California's most sought-after campsites: Angel Island, Steep Ravine, Julia Pfeiffer Burns, Yosemite, Kirby Cove, and Wildcat Camp in Point Reyes.

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The Art of the Handkerchief

We're delighted to feature a guest post today from our lady pal Alyx Schwarz! 

I never hit the trail without my favorite accessory: The Handkerchief. While it may look like a simple square of fabric, don’t be fooled. The handkerchief is an advanced tool for the Macguyvers of the wilderness.

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Trail Mavens Guide | Angel Island Backpacking

Anyone lucky enough to live in the Bay Area can't truly say they know the area until they've been to Angel Island. Situated what feels like a stone's throw from downtown Tiburon, the island features ideally-situated picnic areas, paved roads for cycling and trails for running and hiking, and views for days. Case in point:

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Trail Mavens Guide | A Bradley Hut Weekend

Cold weather doesn't keep Trail Mavens indoors, no ma'am. That's why we were so excited to reserve seven spots at the Bradley Hut, one of the four Sierra Club backcountry ski huts dotted around Lake Tahoe's ski area. Nestled between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley, the Bradley Hut sleeps fifteen, and provides an ideal jumping-off point to explore the bowls, ridges, and peaks of the Sierras above the lake, all while having a warm room and a wood-burning stove to return to at the end of the day.

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Reflections on 2014

2014 was a great year. We went on our first trip, to the Pantoll Campground on Mount Tam, and experienced firsthand the microclimate that a eucalyptus tree over your tent can create. We spent a long late spring afternoon by a swimming hole in Henry Coe State Park, alternately dipping and lounging on the rocks. We tasted wine and explored sea caves in Mendocino. We were awed by the bioluminescence in Tomales Bay.

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