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Amylin hitching in Northern California

California is a state in the United States of America. Hitchhiking here is easier than in a lot of other states of the US. You usually won't be harassed by cops. The Central Valley is a concentrated version of the dixie-area "Bible-Belt", so getting around from Bakersfield to, say, Sacramento (and anywhere in between) is a real pain. The major urban centers are notoriously difficult to hitch out of too. It's usually better to take public transportation as reasonably far as possible, and then hitch from there. The Sierra Nevada (especially highway 395) and the Coast are a breeze for hitchhiking.

Cities and major landmarks of California

North Coast Arcata | Eureka | Mendocino Central California Valley | Redding | Chico | Sacramento | Stockton | Modesto | Merced | Fresno | Visalia | Bakersfield | Coast | Bay Area | San Francisco | Oakland | San Jose | Santa Cruz | Monterrey | Southern California Los Angeles | Santa Barbara | San Diego | Barstow Sierra Nevada Mammoth | Yosemite | Bishop | Tahoe

Major Highways

I-5 and CA-99 both run up and down the middle of California in the Central Valley, from Los Angeles up through Sacramento, Redding, and into Oregon. I-5 is a long-distance freeway; stick to truck stops. CA-99 is a more urban route, connecting towns and cities.

(anywhere south of modesto on ca-99 is a pain to hitch, with many mexican immigrants, who wont give you the time of day, and many suburbanites, north of modesto the going gets much easier, and from yuba city north we got ride after ride. - J-rod User: Jaredjestes22)

Route 1 goes up and down the Coast, with beautiful scenery, but not the easiest to hitch on for the most part. US-101 from San Francisco up through Marin (San Rafael), Sonoma (Santa Rosa), Mendocino (Mendocino) and Humboldt (Arcata, Eureka) Counties is arguably the easiest hitching in the US. Sonoma-north is all Redwoods, and it's beautiful...that is to say, if you have any time to spare at all, do take the 1!

Ollie Monaghan I would like to reiterate hitching on the 101, particulary for the stunning scenery, redwood groves laced in white mist rolling down from the mountains on side with the crash of the pacific tide on the other ... also the route has a history of being used for hitch-hiking, was a very common route taken in the 50s, 60s & 70s up and down the west coast, most of these people now have cars and will pick you up !

Recommended places

Justin hitchhiking to Arcata

The following places are recommended: Big Sur and Crescent City (CA-1 & US-101), have beautiful shores/beaches. Yosemite (Highway 120), Sequoia National Park, the Redwoods and the Los Padres Forest are a must. The Haight-Ashbury (or just "the Haight") district in San Francisco the famous epicenter of much of the 1960s' drug and music culture is long gone and beat like a drum, but you might meet a few interesting people there. Arcata is mad cool as well.


User:Thewindandrain gives the roads here a score of 1 out of 3 stars. Pedestrian rights are the greatest weakness of California roads.

  • Shoulders
Broad shoulders are common along many roadsides, giving people plenty of room to pull over for you. However, it is not uncommon to encounter places where shoulders have not been built or are prohibitively narrow.
  • Pedestrian Rights
All interstates and many major many four lane and even several two lane highways in California prohibit pedestrians.
  • Interchanges
Split-traffic interchanges are all too common in California. Many interchanges also do not require drivers to slow down, which can lead to longer waiting times.


While hitchhiking is traditionally considered legal in California and the cops will rarely harass you, anecdotal evidence has been reported of people being threatened under California Vehicle Code Section 22520.5 which states:

(a) No person shall solicit, display, sell, offer for sale, or otherwise vend or attempt to vend any merchandise or service while being wholly or partly within any of the following:

(1) The right-of-way of any freeway, including any on ramp, off ramp, or roadway shoulder which lies within the right-of-way of the freeway.

(2) Any roadway or adjacent shoulder within 500 feet of a freeway off ramp or on ramp.

(3) Any sidewalk within 500 feet of a freeway off ramp or on ramp, when vending or attempting to vend to vehicular traffic.

(b) Subdivision (a) does not apply to a roadside rest area or vista point located within a freeway right-of-way which is subject to Section 22520.6, to a tow truck or service vehicle rendering assistance to a disabled vehicle, or to a person issued a permit to vend upon the freeway pursuant to Section 670 of the Streets and Highways Code.

(c) A violation of this section is an infraction. A second or subsequent conviction of a violation of this section is a misdemeanor.

This law is generally only used against prostitution, however soliciting a ride is considered soliciting a service, so if the cops attempt to tell you it is illegal to hitchhike in California it is best to not argue with them.

The following law is enforced more often:

21957. No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of any vehicle.

Definitions: 530. A "roadway" is that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel.

As with other states where the roadway definition does not mention a shoulder, it might be wise to hitch from outside of the paved portion of the road.

Federal Districts

Note:All land regulated by the National Park service prohibits hitchhiking under the Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 section 4.31: Hitchhiking or soliciting transportation is prohibited except in designated areas and under conditions established by the superintendent.

  • Yosemite National Park
Hitchhiking is permitted in the following areas under the terms and conditions noted:
all areas of the park when the person is off the roadway surface and when public safety and traffic flow are not adversely affected
when vehicles may safely pull off of the main traffic lane
when not under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating drugs
when hitchhiking behavior is safe and not a nuisance
except in residential areas where signs exist establishing the area as residential areas only and discouraging public traffic
  • Joshua Tree National Park

Hitchhiking is only permitted under exigent conditions where the health and safety of the person hitchhiking is in jeopardy.

  • Mojave National Preserve

4.31 has not been amended here, so hitchhiking is prohibited.

  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

4.31 has not been amended here, so hitchhiking is prohibited.

  • Death Valley National Park

Hitchhiking, or the soliciting of transportation, is allowed anywhere in the park as long as the person is off the paved roadway on the shoulder, and visitor safety and traffic flow are not adversely affected.

  • Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks

Hitchhiking is permitted when not standing in the roadway, and visitor safety and traffic flow must not be adversely affected.

  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Hitchhiking is permitted in the following areas: Marin County - Marin Headlands

  • Point Reyes National Seashore

Hitchhiking is allowed anywhere in the park as long as the person does not stand in a roadway and the hitchhiking/solicitation does not adversely affect visitor safety or the normal flow of traffic.

  • Lassen Volcanic National Park

4.31 has not been amended here, so hitchhiking is prohibited.

  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Hitchhiking is explicitly prohibited at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

  • Redwood National Park

4.31 has not been amended here, so hitchhiking is prohibited.


Vallejo seems pretty ghetto, though the rest stop in Vallejo is really good. It's full of Urban Sprawl.

Humboldt county is real good. They have a Hoopa Indian Reservation up there that is pretty good. They'll stop if you're walking on the side because they think you're one of them, and then once they stop they feel bad and give you a ride anyway. Lord Ellis peak took me about half an hour to get a ride to Redding.

Route 101, North from San Francisco and Route 1 South from the bay, towards Santa Cruz, are great roads to hitch, arguably the easiest hitchhiking in the United States. Incredibly beautiful scenery too. From the bay, hitching can be difficult but not impossible. You can alternately take public transit to the Diridon station in San Jose. There is a shuttle for $5.00 to Downtown Santa Cruz. Make sure to hitch out of Santa Cruz instead of Capitola...or alternately, there is a bus for $3.00 from Santa Cruz to Monterrey. In Monterrey, the bus 24 for another $2.00 will take you to Barnyard shopping village in Carmel. The red lights there are an excellent place to catch rides as they are the last lights before the road turns into big sur area. Alot of drivers are headed all the way to L.A. with many cars full of young people, travelers, surfers. It took me literally 5 minutes to get a ride there, and i´m a 24 year old dude with long messy hair. Once in Big Sur hitchhiking is ridiculously easy and it is also an excellent place to camp for free on oceanside bluffs(as long as you are respectful).

Also, if you are heading down (or up) the coast, try and get to Mendocino. It's the county in Cali that produces the most marijuana, and there is this awesome communal farm there. Half the rides you get will even offer you a toke or two! Golden Gate Transit will get you up to Santa Rosa from the Bay Area, which is halfway there.

Highway 20, in between Yuba City (off Hwy 99) and Williams (off I-5) in Northern California can be difficult. It has been reported to take as long as 6 hours for someone to catch a ride. There are not many places for people to pull over, and Yuba City is a huge strip mall town that people just blast through on a multi lane road. Also it is a very conservative area. On the other hand, User:Thewindandrain has had nothing but easy experiences hitching around Yuba City and Williams.


Ollie Monaghan Northern California is the greatest hitch-hiking I have done in my life, I took the Route 299 to Redding and then the 44 & 36 to Susanville via the breathtaking Lassen Volcanic Park, I never waiting longer than an hour and met some truly interesting and inspiring people. But a warning, out of about 20 lifts I got west to east across the state, at least half of them were stoned, so stoned on that gorgeous Humboldt county weed refrenced prior. I enjoyed this thoroughly, but it is worth taking into consideration that when hitchiking thro this part of the world, regardless of time of day (I had a guy pick me up at nine in the morning, and within five minutes was driving the steering wheel with his knee so he could roll a spliff) you will get picked up by many intoxicated drivers.

I Byron Motley tried to hitchhike from Ontario California on the on ramp but I was HARASSED by the police until I gave up trying! A close friend to which I will testify to his integrity told me he tried to hitchhike from the outskirts on on ramps of San Diego from 2 different locations and he was HARASSED at BOTH locations by the police until he gave up trying to hitch a ride! Southern California is a VERY DIFFICULT area to attempt hitching from!

"Born and raised in North Cali - if you can, take Highway 1. Everyone who takes their time to enjoy life and see cool stuff is on Highway 1, swhere the party's at haha. I met this amazing acidhead couple who took me to Swanson Berry Farms between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, where we sampled weird sacred Native American jams and sat around the barn on picnic tables talkin to wild westerners. Don't get stuck in So Cal. I was tryna get out of LA for about a week. When I finally got to Barstow, I hung out under the bridge on the freeway with other vagabonds, and like 3 of us were hitchhiking - I got picked up first by this awesome woman from Arkansas who lived in Baker, drove me there and we hung out with her neighborhood, getting drunk and having a good ol' fashioned fish fry. Bring loads and loads of water to So Cal, it gets hot, especially on your way out of state on I-15."

Experience Nov. 2012

I hitched from southern Oregon to Texas without any problems except one in Westmorland, CA. I was standing on the edge of the shoulder of highway 86 on the south end of this rural small community when approached by two aggrevated and aggressive Imperial County sheriffs. They asked if i knew that it was illegal to hitchhike in California. I told them it was not. Minutes of arguing later they retrieved their citation book and showed me the law shown above that you can not hitch on roadway. I asked them to show me the state definition of a roadway. This upset them. Veins bulging and spit spewing, they pointed to a business wall 40 feet away and said that's where the roadway ends. They then grabbed their pepper spray and asked if I'd be walking back to town. I complied and spent $1 for a bus to El Centro and continued on my way. Pick your battles wisely and be safe out there. ~nomadinexile

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