Andy Hikes

(and you totally hike too, right!?)


The pinnacles on the way up to Mt. Whitney. On the hike up to Mt. Whitney.

Page Contents


As of now, many of these links are here for quick personal access and sharing. There should be more things as time goes on, but in the meantime, here is a rudimentary list of campsites (in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties) and thru-hikes. Some friends and I started a hiking group, The Formal Hikers.

Four of us on a trip near Mt. Piños. Formal Hikers hanging out near Mt. Piños.

Ten Essentials

Before you set out any hike or trip, be sure to have all Ten Essentials (read up on the “ten systems approach,” the “Plus Four” essentials, and things to keep in the car).

Leave No Trace

When on the trail, follow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. This includes packing out all used toilet paper!

Environment, Location, Geography


Sunset from the Chorro Grande Trail in the Los Padres. Good thing we brought headlamps! Ten essentials, yeah!

Sun, Moon, and Meteors

You don’t have to read this. It’s a digression into coordinate system minutiae.

Return to Contents ↑
Continue to GPS ↓

“Wait wait wait wait… WTF is UTM, Andy?”

I’m glad you asked! Because a few months ago I had no idea. In some guidebooks I would see something like, “249321E 3815921N,” and wonder where the location coordinates are.

Well, those numbers are the actual location coordinates! I had no idea that there were other ways of referring to a spot outside of decimal coordinates!

UTM is a casual term for the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system, which is a coordinate system that refers to the number of meters a location is from a zero point. The first number (the “easting” number) notes how many meters east of the zero spot a location is; the second number (the “northing” number) notes how many meters north of the zero spot a location is.

So the coordinates above use a zero point in “UTM Zone 11” and give the location of the Jesusita Trailhead as 249321 meters east, 3815921 meters north of that zero point.

The handy thing about UTM is that you can find your UTM coordinate by hand using a map that has an UTM grid overlay. This blew my mind. Regardless of the scale of a map, an UTM overlay displays a standardized area and distance. For instance, each square could have sides of 1000 meters, equivalent to 1 kilometer, and thus an area of 1 kilometer squared. Knowing this, you can use hashmarks or a ruler to figure out where a point in that square is, to some desired level of accuracy. YouTube has great tutorials on UTM; Just Trails provides a clear, brief explanation and this guy who is into kayaking runs through an example.

The USGS has a coordinate system teaching guide, along with a UTM fact sheet. While Googling things, I found a National Geographic Basic Map and GPS Skills guide and a super long/detailed map projection document from CalTech.

I am by no means an expert here, and it is almost midnight as I write this, but damn.

UTM is good stuff.

UTM is amazing.



Have a GPS? Look at GPSFileDepot for articles, tutorials, other things, and especially custom maps. For instance, this California Topo 2011 Map; I have it on my Garmin GPSmap 62s, and it’s for sure helped on the trail. There are many other Garmin-compatible California Maps, as well as maps for wherever you are or go.

GPS info for a longer dayhike. From a fun dayhike up to and down from Reyes Peak via Lower Chorro Grande trailhead.
I should get a case for the GPS.


For reliable paper maps, check out: Tom Harrison Maps, the Los Padres maps from Bryan Conant, and National Geographic Adventure Paper for printing your own maps at home.

All the info I need for a San Jacinto trip. Planning a two day summit of San Jacinto. Got the Tom Harrison Map, permit app, check to pay, and a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can send the permits back. Snail mail throwback, amirite!

If you are hiking in Ventura or Santa Barbara Counties, specifically in the Los Padres National Forest, I highly recommend picking up the Beard Bundle from Craig R. Carey. The bundle hooks you up with so much backcountry goodness! Not only his rockin‘ trail guide from Wilderness Press, but ALSO Bryan Conant’s two maps—Matilija & Dick Smith Wilderness and San Rafael WildernessAND the Sespe Wilderness Tom Harrison map.

If you are just day hiking in Ventura County, get your hands on Robert Stone’s Day Hikes Around Ventura County. Craig’s book is also solid when looking for accessible LPNF front or backcountry trails.

If you are going out to the Santa Monica Mountains, find Day Hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains, another Robert Stone book. National Geographic has a nice Santa Monica Mountains overview map.Tom Harrison also has four maps that detail the entire range, listed west to east: Point Mugu State Park, Zuma-Trancas Canyons, Malibu Creek State Park, and Topanga State Park.

SLO–County Topo Quads

Having since moved to San Luis Obispo County in late 2015, I compiled all SLO–County USGS topo quads.

Relevant iPhone Apps

Trail, Hiking, and Outdoors—Online!

Fog, trail, and the Pacific Ocean seen descending from Mugu Peak. Going down the eastern side of Mugu Peak. Love Point Mugu State Park, especially La Jolla Valley.

Hike and Trail Databases

Hiking and Outdoors Blogs

Gear Gear Gear

You definitely need gear on the trail. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH!

All geared up looking concerned on Sandstone Peak. I always really want to use this GoLite Umbrella, but it never quite works out.

These sites may help.

Gear Reviews Only

About Andy

Check out…

Andy in hiking gear with a beard. Great capture by my friend Arturo.


Andy Hikes is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by any outdoors retailer, resource, or organization. Andy does work as an outdoor retail employee in San Luis Obispo, California.

Andy Hikes is a Hiker Creative production from Andy King.