By Linda Williams
Are you planning an upcoming survivalist camping trip? With mountains, beaches, and desert landscapes all within driving distance, there aren’t many better areas for camping than LA County. Whether you’re car-tent camping, backpacking, or dipping your toes in the survivalist camping realm, there’s a camping spot in LA county that’s compatible with your experience level and unique interests awaiting you.
Should you decide to venture into survivalist camping territory, you’ll need to research accordingly. To prepare for your first minimalist camping trip, you’ll need to gather supplies such as water filters and a water bottle, food that you can carry on your back, and a tent and sleeping bag. Purchasing a survival kit is a one-stop-shop alternative for all of your survivalist camping needs.
Once you’ve secured the essential supplies, choose your ideal destination from these six LA County campsites that are perfect for any survivalist in training.
Crystal Lake Recreation Area Campground
Located about 50 miles northeast of downtown LA, the Crystal Lake campground is an excellent place to spend a few nights. Pitch your tent in one of the 50-plus campsites (where you’ll have flush toilets within walking distance), or opt for a cabin.
Once you’ve set up camp, try out any of the hiking and biking trails that start within walking distance of your campground — like the challenging and energy-intensive Mount Hawkins or the more relaxing Tototngna Nature Trail. The Crystal Lake Cafe and Trading Post are also open for supplies and hot meals if you need them. For those penny-pinching campers, campsites cost $12 per night.
Manker Flats Campground
Survivalist campers in-the-making can find Manker Flats Campground at the bottom of Mount Baldy, 6,000 feet up. It’s known for the challenging hikes in the area, including Mount Baldy itself and the Bear Canyon Trail. The 21 campsites cost $20 a night and operate on a first-come-first-serve basis. Aspiring survivalist campers can enjoy picnic tables, fire rings, piped water, and flush toilets when days of living off the land become tiresome.
Leo Carrillo State Park Campground
In search of sun, sky, and sand? The park campground within walking distance of Leo Carrillo State Beach is your best bet. With opportunities for fishing, beachcombing, and surfing in addition to the hiking options in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains, you won’t be at a loss for things to do.
While the campground has 138 sites, they typically fill up quickly. That said, make your reservations in advance. For $45 per night, you’ll have access to a reserved fire ring and picnic table. There are also communal showers, flush toilets, and a general store nearby. While your end goal may be a successful minimalist camping excursion, there’s no shame in indulging in Leo Carrillo State Park’s amenities.
Mountain Oak Campground
Head to this campground 85 miles northeast of LA for a relaxing weekend among the towering ponderosas and sugar pines. Located at 6,400 feet, Mountain Oak Campground costs $23 a night and has a total of 17 campsites. Some require reservations, while others function with a first-come-first-serve mentality.
At Mountain Oak Campground, you’ll find hiking trails, fire rings, flush toilets, and even a grocery store available for campers. Jackson Lake is also full of trout and bass all summer and bluegill year-round.
Buckhorn Campground is a lesser-known option for campsites around LA but comes highly recommended as a starting point for several hiking trails in the area. Quickly access the Burkhart Trail (which runs into the Pacific Crest and Silver Moccasin trails), or hike to Waterman Mountain and Twin Peaks East.
The campground has 38 first-come, first-served sites that cost $12 a night. If it’s a hot day, take the Burkhart Trail 2.5 miles to the swimming hole at Cooper Canyon Falls.
Bolsa Chica State Beach
For another beach campsite option, check out Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach. Campsites at Bolsa Chica cost between $55 and $65, depending on what side of the campgrounds they’re on. Fish in the ocean or enjoy swimming and surfing. You’ll also find volleyball nets, a paved bike path, and a local bird preserve.
It’s not difficult to find a suitable campsite in the LA County area. And with these choices, you’re well on your way to enjoying your first survivalist camping trip once you acclimate to the unexpected challenges of nonexistent indoor plumbing and a minimalist packing lists.