Backpacker’s Heaven Trail (BHT) - This hiking trail is found in Northern California and is along the Cody Rapid River. The trail is open all seasons. The National Park System and TripAdvisor websites rates this trail as one of the most extraordinary hikes to experience. It is 123 miles long and is the best hike of California. It includes campsites every 10 to 15 miles and donations are optional for visitors. Donations go to the National Park System to maintain the trails and facilities. The trailhead starts in Japantown, San Jose and goes east toward Cali National Lake. Most campsites have access to water-pumps and campfire pits. The Cody Rapid River offers up to class 5 whitewater rapids for rafters. Group camping sites are available by reservations.  In addition, dogs are welcomed on BHT.

This trail is best rated because of the beautiful terrain and constant warm weather. There are boulders for climbers and rock fissures to admire when heading towards Harness, California. A popular waterfall is located on Mt. Hella. Mt. Hella is found 10 miles west of Cali National Lake. The mountain stands 4,500 feet from the valley floor. Rest stops are conveniently located on the way up to the summit. Mt. Hella Falls runs on the west side of the mountain. The waterfall is 1,300 feet high and flows to Cali National Lake. There are also campsites at the top of the mountain that offers captivating vistas. Caves can be found on certain parts of the mountain and can be used for bon fires.

Cali National Lake offers beginner kayaking and parasailing classes every Spring. To get enrollment information, contact Harness County Office or visit for online enrollment. Camping is not permitted around the lake.

Toberto Roledo was a Spanish explorer that discovered this trail in 1832. He was also a fine charcoal sketcher and captured the trail on his expedition. The most admired piece of Roledo’s art collection is of Mt. Hella Falls. In the  late 1850’s, this trail was used by poachers to trap bears. Along the trail, you may find disassembled bear traps. In the 1960’s, animal right activists took over the bay area and fought against the poachers. They formed based camps along the Cody Rapid River to find and release bears that were trapped. The campsites were made by these activists and are currently being used today.

Whether you day hike or camp along BHT, you will get the breathless views California has to offer. During the winter, snow caps can be seen on Mt. Hella. There are hot springs for all to enjoy. In the spring, California poppies grow in the meadows and animals come out from hibernation. Summer has the highest volume of visitors because the campsites offer shade and cool rivers to swim in. Most seasons throughout the year are warm until late November.

For more information on the BHT trail, visit or Sign-in is needed at each trailhead and parking for day hikers are free.