Happy Camping: McCormick Creek Camp
Labor Day Weekend may be the unofficial end of summer, but in the Bay Area, camping season is far from over. If you're looking for a weekend getaway, check out McCormick Creek Camp in Loma Mar, about 45 minutes south of Palo Alto and 15 minutes east of Pescadero. The winding drive through a canopy of redwoods alone is worth the trip.
We found McCormick Creek Camp on Hipcamp and snagged a prime location for this weekend at Campsite 1 on McCormick's North Slope for only $46, including fees. By the way, it was my first time tent camping ever. My verdict: I loved it (spiders, sweat and all).
What we loved about Campsite 1 was that it’s private and secluded. Our site was tucked away at the end of the trail and had plenty of tree coverage for extra privacy. Although the camp was fully booked this weekend, we didn’t run into anyone else. In fact, our site was so quiet and private that a doe wandered as close as 30 yards from our camp before it even noticed us. If you get a site too close to the parking lot, expect foot traffic from people going to and from their cars and the bathrooms.
Another bonus of Campsite 1 was that it had spots for two tents: one on the main site that’s adjacent to the fire pit and sitting area and the other at the top of the slope above.
Each site comes with its own fire pit, firewood, kindling, and a hose of non-potable water to use as a fire extinguisher. There are community outhouses and a hot shower.
There’s also ample free parking in a gravel lot, but there are no drive-up campsites. Our site was a five-minute walk from the parking lot up a very steep hill. Translation: Pack light. If you check in before 6 p.m., the host can transport your gear to your site on his Kawasaki mule. No passengers are allowed on the vehicle, so you'll have to trek up the hill on your own. You'll also have to carry your gear back to your car when you leave. Our host, William, was friendly, accommodating and even let us inflates our air mattress using the cigarette lighter adapter on his mule. We'll probably pack cots or sleeping mats next time instead.
My First Camp
As I mentioned, this was my first time tent camping ever. I've always wanted to sleep under the stars and I count this weekend as a check mark on that bucket list, even if it was too smoky to actually see the stars. I also surprisingly enjoyed chopping up firewood. McCormick does provide firewood, but some of the pieces were a little too big for the fire pit, so I broke up them up into smaller bits. I'll have to admit, there was something extremely satisfying and primal about swinging an ax and splitting wood in half. I highly recommend it!
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a low-key camping experience in the redwoods with convenient amenities, get thee to Mcormick’s. Summer ain't over yet.