There’s a romantic allure to multi-day hikes, a kind of solitude and natural beauty that day hiking can’t match. But backpacking, carrying all of your gear so you can set up camp somewhere new each night, doesn’t quite have the same appeal.
Inn-to-inn hikes—multi-day treks punctuated by nightly stays at charming inns—have been a European alternative to backpacking for generations. Rather than carry your gear on these adventures, tour operators pick it up and drop it off so you can focus on the trail by day and relax with a hot meal and cushy bed by night.
Finally, inn-to-inn hiking is growing in popularity in the U.S. too, with a handful of routes opening up around the country. In California, Oregon, and Colorado, these four European-style inn-to-inn treks have all the rewards of backpacking without the heavy weight or sleepless nights to slow you down.
Monterey Bay, CA: Inn-to-Inn Hike From Santa Cruz to Pacific Grove
Get a new perspective on the Monterey Bay with an inn-to-inn hike that skirts its coastline from Santa Cruz all the way down to Pacific Grove. Each morning, you’ll set off from a beachside inn on a self-guided hike with a custom map directing you to your next stay. While you take in the tidepools and watch for whales on the horizon, Real Adventures transports your gear to your next seafront lodge (they also provide sack lunches each morning). Choose from three, five, or seven nights on the trail, each of which has you staying in quaint hotels like the Captain’s Inn in Moss Landing and The Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina.
// Four day/three night trips start at $1,195/person; realadventures.com
Rogue River Valley, Oregon: Inn-to-Inn Rafting + Wine Hikes
There are two ways to hike Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, both of which will get you a great night’s sleep in a quiet forest lodge. Morrison’s Rogue Wilderness’ four-day river raft–supported excursion ($1,769/person) hits the trail about 30 miles west of Grants Pass, continuing on foot and via rapids through the beautifully moody river corridor almost all the way to the coast. If you’re not into rafting, the outfitter offers another way to get wet. On their four-day Wiking (Wine Hiking) lodge-to-lodge trip ($2,099/person), you’ll cover 40 miles by day and drink wine by night. Special tastings are hosted at each rustic, off-the-grid inn, where wild solitude is par for the course.
San Francisco Bay Area: Inn-to-Inn Hikes in Half Moon Bay + Tomales Bay
Inn to End outfits self-guided inn-to-inn hikes that travel along the spectacular Pacific Coast from San Francisco to Tomales Bay and from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco. Unlike most treks, lodging doesn’t come included, which gives hikers the opportunity to vary their accommodations. Choose one of Inn to End’s six walks, two of which are bite-sized four day adventures, and they’ll provide a custom map and transfer your gear for one low price. The company will give you a list of recommendations on where to stay, but the choice is up to you where to lay your head each night.
// Four-day walks start at $180 for up to three people (additional $175 for luggage transfer); inntoend.com.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado: Walter Tishma Way Inn-to-Inn Hike
For almost 20 years, Footpaths of the World has featured The Walter Tishma Way, an inn-to-inn trek through Colorado’s spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park. The self-guided trip, which can be done as a 5-day/4-night (from $1,180/person) or 4-day/3-night (from $1,060/person) adventure, winds you around Deer Mountain, Cub Lake, and Storm Pass through elk herds and past the feeding grounds of moose. Due to the layout of this one, there will be a couple of shuttle transfers from trail to lodge, but with eight to 10-mile hikes daily, those quick rides will be very welcome. They’ll take care of it all, from daily sack lunches to making sure your luggage ends up in the right room of your rustic inn at the end of the day.
// Trip price does not include evening meals, alcoholic beverages, or a park pass; footpathsoftheworld.com