Let’s talk about permits.

Before any hike, it’s important to check for any required permits (parking, hiking and camping) that you may need. Different regions require separate permit processes. For example, if you want to hike Half Dome, you will need to go through the National Park Service Site – Yosemite National Park. If you want to hike Mt. Whitney, you will need to go through the U.S. Forest Service Site – Inyo National Forest.

The easiest way to find out whether you will need a permit is to look up the specific hike you would like to do.

Finding out what types of permits you will need can be a little confusing. Here are some basic levels of permits to help you narrow it down:

Wilderness Permits

These types of permits are required for all overnight or multi-night trips year round (Check for specifics on regions. These permits are required for hiking in Yosemite, Sequoia, Mt. Whitney, and Kings Canyon wilderness).

  • Overnight Permit
    • Required for overnight stays in a specific park, region or campsite.
  • Day-Use Permit
    • Required for hikers who will NOT being staying overnight on the trail.
    • Usually day-use permits are free and are located at the trailhead of the hikes.
  • Visiting & Exiting Permit
    • These permits are required to enter a specific park or region with strict guidelines. The same is applied to exit different parks.
  • Cross-Country Permit
    • Required for trips that you plan to go “off-roading” or traveling off the path.

There are also group size regulations which is important to check before applying for permits.

I’ve also included some helpful sites that will guide you through the process of obtaining necessary permits for various hikes around California:

Inyo National Forest

Mt. Whitney

Yosemite National Forest

Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

John Muir Trail (JMT)

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