Years ago in the stone ages, before Sam and her crew took their 338 mile hike up the aqueduct, we found ourselves faced with a conundrum. We wanted our journey to be a backpacking journey, with camping and tents and hiking trails. But as the aqueduct wound through private lands, where could we camp?
As it turns out, we didn’t need to worry at all. The aqueduct passes through numerous state and federal parks and forests, meaning the journey rarely left Sam without a place to sleep. In fact, the path is roughly parallel to the Pacific Crest Trail, and Sam’s camping worries evaporated as she walked a path dotted with BLM land and even several formal camp sites.
Let’s start with an easy one: Yosemite National Park. Mono Lake sits just outside the sleepy town of Lee Vining, which in turn marks the turnoff for the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. If you’re taking the 395 in to see one of California’s most beautiful sites that Teddy Roosevelt once described as a "solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hands of man,” you can look to the right as you drive as spot Mono Lake.
Ever heard of Sequoia National Park or Sequoia National Forest? Just south of Yosemite, these naturally protected spaces are known for their towering redwoods, including the world’s largest tree by volume. While the aqueduct doesn’t actually pass through the Sequoia National Park or Forest, it runs along their eastern borders.
If you’re an avid camper, you probably already know that both Yosemite and Sequoia are pretty far north, and a visit to these parks means a several-hours-long road trip. Ever wish there were a forest closer to Los Angeles that just for good measure featured the LA Aqueduct? Lucky for you, there is! Sam spent the better part of her first week on-trail passing through the Angeles National Forest, a wilderness area so close, you can actually walk to it from within Santa Clarita city limits! (As for whether you’d want to make that walk, well, that’s up to you.)
One of the greatest benefits to living in Southern California is our abundance of state and national forests and parks, meaning we’re never at a loss for camping destinations. Naturally it makes sense that this blend of urban and wilderness would express itself through our water importation system as well. So next time you have glass of cool, refreshing tap water, remember that you’re partaking of a wild area’s ecosystem.