A beautiful coast, a famous bridge, a great four weeks.
Biking point-to-point, as we do on the Pacific Coast, lends a wonderful simplicity, a clear focus to the trip. “What are we doing today?” Riding south. “Where are we going?” San Francisco. “What’s our goal?” The Golden Gate Bridge.
Along the way, it’s non-stop beauty. Staggering beauty, actually. The vast blue Pacific. Towering dark redwoods. Tiny charming towns. It’s incredible—just about every day offers some new take on coastal beauty.
The riding is challenging, but not overly so. You have to work hard (you’re going all the way to San Francisco!), but there’s a wide range of terrain, frequent stops (for rest, and water, and snacks and lunch) and a group of like-minded peers who will cheer you on and on and on. And when you cross into California, you’ll take a break from the bikes to raft the Klamath River for two days.
When you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, you will have succeeded. But you won’t have done it alone—you’ll have done it with the newest, closest friends you might ever have and the most wonderful leaders you’re ever likely to meet.
Overland's Pacific Coast trip exceeded my expectations as a parent. Roman had a great time cycling and camping every day, but what really impressed me was he said what he learned about over the four weeks was 'what leadership means' and how important it is to 'put the group before yourself'—amazing!
- Toland Grinnell, Brooklyn, New York
Four weeks of biking and beauty, of friendship and fun.
Day 1: Trip Start
We’ll meet in Seattle, Washington and travel a short distance to a campground outside the city. In the afternoon, we’ll build our bikes and learn how to load them, practice riding as a group and prepare for the journey ahead.
Days 2 & 3: Washington
From Seattle, we’ll ride west to the coast where we’ll head south towards the Columbia River. We’ll skirt around bays and inlets and bike through large evergreen forests. Upon reaching the Columbia River, we’ll cross the Astoria Bridge into Oregon for the next leg of our journey.
Days 4-12: Oregon
As we pedal through Oregon, we will see the beautiful coastline up close. Our ride will take us through farmlands and forests and gradually more challenging terrain. We’ll take time to appreciate amazing vistas, lush green forests, weathered and tide-beaten cliffs and the rolling sand dunes of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Days 13 & 14: The California Redwoods
Entering California, we will ride through farmland that soon gives way to a climb out of Crescent City and into the redwoods. For two days, we will bike through shady, cool redwood groves, marveling at these ancient and remarkable trees.
Days 15 & 16: Raft the Klamath River
Soon after crossing into California, we’ll enjoy two days of rafting on the Lower Klamath River. With professional guides at the helm, we’ll enjoy exciting rapids and calm pools perfect for swimming.
Days 17–25: Northern California
After two relaxing days on the water, we’ll continue our journey to San Francisco. We’ll skirt the wilderness of California’s Lost Coast, then return to the Pacific to find a coastline punctuated by large golden buttes and steep cliff faces.
Day 26: The Golden Gate Bridge
On our final day of biking, we will triumphantly cross the Golden Gate Bridge! We’ll look back on four weeks of friendship and fun, of challenge and accomplishment.
24 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities will vary and may include flush toilets, showers and/or laundry.
1 night of backcountry camping while rafting the Klamath River.
1 night in a hostel in San Francisco. Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
We travel light at Overland.
- Medium-Sized Duffel Bag or Pair of Panniers
Panniers are saddlebags sold in pairs that attach to either side of your rear rack. If you are renting panniers from Overland, pack your belongings in a collapsible bag (3,000-5,000 cubic inch/ 50-80 liters). We will have your bag available at the end of the trip for travel home. The cost of renting panniers from Overland is included in a bike rental (or they can be rented separately for $50). If you are bringing your own panniers you will want large panniers, 2,400-3,000 cubic inches (40-50 liters) total, designed for bike touring. One large pannier has internal dimensions of approximately 17" x 13" x 7". You should be able to fit all of your belongings, besides your sleeping bag and pad, into your two panniers and have some space for group gear. If flying to trip start, you can tape your panniers together so that they count as a single piece of checked luggage.
- Navy Overland T-Shirt (1)
We will send every student an Overland T-shirt prior to the trip. Please wear this T-shirt to trip start.
- Synthetic High-Visibility T-Shirts (3) & Vest (1)
A high-visibility outer layer is required at all times while biking (high-visibility is a neon or fluorescent color, typically yellow, orange or pink). On warm days a high-visibility T-shirt will be sufficient. The vest should be large enough to wear over warm layers while riding on cooler days. High-visibility bike jerseys are acceptable but not necessary.
- T-Shirt (1)
- Lightweight Long-Sleeve T-Shirt (1)
- Bike Shorts (2)
Biking-specific shorts with a padded seat.
- Shorts (1)
Comfortable shorts to wear around camp.
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
- Underwear (5)
- Athletic Socks (4)
- Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (1)
- Winter Hat (1)
- Swimsuit (optional)
If we swim, many students will wear shorts (and a sports bra for girls).
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
- Raincoat (1)
Waterproof material (e.g., Gore-Tex, or similar) is required. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. Ponchos are not acceptable. Choose high-visibility if available.
- Waterproof Rain Pants (optional)
- Sleeping Bag
A lightweight, compact sleeping bag rated to 30 degrees Fahrenheit or less. We recommend either synthetic or treated down material. Your sleeping bag should compress into a stuff sack no larger than 20" in length.
- Sleeping Pad
¾-length or full-length closed cell foam (thin and firm) or self-inflating.
- Bowl, Mug & Utensils
6" to 8" plastic dish or bowl with top, insulated plastic mug, spoon, fork and knife. These don't need to be special camping utensils (a Tupperware dish and regular utensils are fine).
- Water Bottle
A 24-ounce bike bottle is ideal (on arrival you will receive a second bottle from us).
- Hydration System (optional)
A small backpack with a bladder inside (e.g., CamelBak or Platypus) works well. If you bring a backpack, it must be a high-visibility color; if the bag is not hi-vis, you must cover it with hi-vis fabric or tape. The backpack should be designed primarily to carry water (if it is too big or filled with other items, it will be uncomfortable to wear all day).
- Touring Bicycle & Rear Rack
You may choose to rent a bicycle and rear rack from Overland to use during your trip or you can bring your own. Please see the Right Bicycle for Your Overland Trip for more information about acceptable bikes and traveling with your bike. Please note: the American Challenge, European Challenge and Canadian Rockies & Montana 2-week require specific bikes—keep this in mind if you are buying a new bike now and plan on doing one of these trips in a future summer.
- Clipless Pedals or Toe Cages
The bikes we rent come with flat pedals appropriate for biking in running shoes. If you are renting a bike from Overland, you should bring your own "clipless" pedals (and bike shoes) or toe cages to attach to the flat pedals.
- Bike Helmet
If you are flying to trip start, carry your helmet on the plane with you.
- Rear Bike Light
A rear bike light is required—both when you train in the spring and once you are on your Overland trip in the summer. The light can be USB or battery powered with a variety of mounting options (clipping on to a pannier or a rear rack, for example). There are a wide range of bike lights available; we recommend the Bontrager Flare R or Flare RT, which are available from Trek bike dealers and on the Trek website. Note: if you are renting a bike from Overland this summer, please bring your bike light (your leaders will help you mount it on your rental bike).
- Bungee Cords (4)
These should be 18-24" in length. Bungee cords are included with an Overland bike rental.
- Bike Gloves
Well-padded for comfort.
- Water Bottle Cages
Two cages, attached to the bike frame. Some smaller-sized bike frames cannot accommodate two cages. If this is the case, you will be able to carry water bottles in your panniers or on your rack. All Overland rental bikes come with two water bottle cages.
- Spare Bike Parts
If you are bringing your own bicycle you will need to bring: four spare spokes (two rear & two front); one spare tube (matched to the size and diameter of your bike's tires); one spare set of brake pads; one tire patch kit; and one set of tire levers. These items are included with an Overland Bike Rental.
- Shoes for Biking
Bike touring or mountain biking shoes with bottom treads and "clipless" recessed cleats. A popular style of clipless shoes and pedals are SPDs. You may also ride in running shoes and bring toe cages to attach to your pedals. Please do not bring racing shoes as they have hard soles that are uncomfortable to walk in.
- Water Shoes
Closed-toed sport sandals, water shoes or old sneakers to wear on the water. Sandals must have a heel strap for activities such as kayaking, rafting or canoeing (flip flops and Crocs are not acceptable).
- Synthetic Camping Towel
A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
- Travel Size Toiletries
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Large Trash Bags (5)
To waterproof your gear.
- Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
A digital or disposable camera.
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
- Photo Identification
If you are not flying: Overland does not require photo identification. If you are flying within the U.S.: The TSA website has two relevant pieces of information. (1) “TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States.” This language indicates that TSA staff can insist that an under-18 year old who does not have a companion (we interpret this as a companion who is 18 or over traveling with them—not just checking them in) must have TSA-compliant identification. Our experience is that this requirement is inconsistently enforced but, since it might be enforced, we recommend that all Overland students who are flying to/from their trip have TSA-compliant identification. (2) “Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18.” This is always smart to do as airline policies vary widely and change frequently.
- Spending Money & Miscellaneous Expenses
Each student should bring a debit card, an ATM card or a prepaid Visa card to cover spending money and miscellaneous expenses. Spending Money: While all meals and activities are included in the trip fee, we recommend $25/week for spending money (for example: for souvenirs or an occasional drink or snack beyond what is provided to the group as a whole). Miscellaneous Expenses: Most Overland students will incur some expenses while traveling (for example: an equipment repair or baggage fees at trip end). Please add $100 to the debit/ATM/Visa card (in addition to spending money), to cover these expenses.
Things to know
- We travel light at Overland; please only bring the items on this list.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring your smart phone (or any other electronics).
Please visit the FAQ tab for more information on our cell phone and electronics policy.
- Do not bring any type of knife or multi-tool (such as a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool).
- A high-visibility outer layer is required at all times while biking. See packing descriptions for more details.
- If you are flying to your trip, pack your sleeping pad and bike shoes in your bike box or checked bag. Take your helmet and sleeping bag with you on the plane as carry-on items, in case your checked luggage fails to arrive on time. Pack all remaining items in your checked duffel bag or in your checked panniers.
- There are no reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen items.
Please schedule expensive items—phones, cameras, bicycles, etc.—on your homeowners insurance policy.
Questions? Call us: 413.458.9672.
- What is the weather like on Pacific Coast?
You can expect typical summery weather with lots of sunshine, some rain, warm days and cool nights.
- What are the arrival and departure airports for my child’s trip?
You will need to arrange transportation for your child to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a trip.
- How often will my child have access to showers and laundry?
The Pacific Coast route offers frequent (but not daily) access to showers. Most groups do laundry once a week.
- Please tell me about safety at Overland.
Safety and risk management are at the forefront of our decision-making–from trip planning to leader training to supporting our groups in the field. We cannot guarantee absolute safety–no program can. All recreational activities include inherent risks. Therefore, we strive to manage the risks that we can, knowing we cannot eliminate them. We work hard to recruit, train and support our trip leaders so they can create the kind of trips that have made us successful for over 30 years. Please click here to read more about our approach to risk management and our accreditation by the American Camp Association.
- Does my child need to have previous experience?
While no previous experience is required, we have high expectations of our students. We expect your child–with your help–to select a trip that is appropriate for their interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific trip and help your child understand what to expect. We also expect our students to prepare ahead of time: to review the packing list, gather clothing and gear and complete whatever training the trip requires (for recommended training please see the Before You Go tab). Once the trip begins, your child should be ready–and excited–to contribute to a wholesome and enthusiastic group where each group member feels welcomed and valued.
- Please tell me about Overland's admissions process.
When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will: (1) call you to acknowledge our receipt of your application, (2) send you an email with a link to our enrollment forms, and (3) charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card. If your first choice is not available, we will call you to discuss options. For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
- What are Overland’s policies on phones, electronics and communication?
To maximize independence and self-reliance, we do not permit phone calls, emails or text messages to or from our campers. Your child will call home on arrival and departure with our phones and assistance, and in the case of an emergency. If your child brings a phone for use while en route to Overland, please do not send an expensive smartphone. Instead, an inexpensive prepaid cell phone will do. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss, we take no responsibility for phones and we will not make any reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen phones.
Cameras are welcome but please do not bring any other electronics (e.g., iPods, iPads, Kindles or other readers, GPS or similar devices). All electronics (except cameras) will be mailed home on arrival (at your risk and expense).
We are committed to providing extraordinary support to you and your child. To that end, the Overland office is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week during the summer. Outside of office hours, our answering service provides emergency coverage. Our leaders in the field are in touch with our office regularly; they carry cell phones (and in some cases satellite phones). Anytime a camper is treated for an injury or illness by a doctor or other medical personnel, parents are notified by our office. A director will call the parents to explain the nature of the injury or illness, the sequence of events leading up to the injury and/or the steps leading to the treatment. Parents are typically able to speak with the medical personnel, with the leaders and with their child.
- Can I send mail to my child during a trip?
Getting a letter, card or postcard while on an Overland trip is always exciting. Please keep in mind that sending mail to your child on an Overland trip is different than sending mail to a traditional camp because your child will be on the move. Our experience has been that mail often does not arrive on time, and, sometimes, even when it does, post offices, campgrounds and other mail stops do not reliably deliver mail to our groups. For these reasons:
1. Please do not send anything valuable – please send letters, cards or postcards only. If mail is late, lost or misdirected, Overland’s leaders and staff are not able to return to the post office (or other mail stop) to collect it.
2. Please use the US Postal Service first-class mail only; do not use UPS, FedEx or DHL (many of our mail stops accept US Postal Service mail only).
3. Please do not send overnight letters: many overnighted letters arrive before or after we arrive and are then sent back. For this same reason, please do not send mail that requires a signature upon delivery.
4. Please allow one week for postal delivery to U.S. mail stops.
5. Please allow two weeks for postal delivery to international mail stops.
Bike, raft and explore the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Francisco.
Students going on Pacific Coast should prepare for:
- Full days of outdoor activities led by two caring Overland leaders
- Camping out and cooking meals as a group
- 21 days of biking with an average of 45 miles per day
- A fun, supportive and wholesome Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for the Biking
Daily rides on our Pacific Coast trip average 45 miles over varying terrain. Four or five days will be over 50 miles and the longest day ranges from 55 to 70 miles. There are one or two buffer days included in the itinerary to allow for delays en route (most groups will find that they spend these buffer days partially or completely off of the bikes) and an additional two days off the bikes to go rafting.
Overland bicycle tours are self-contained—there is no van support. You will carry all of your belongings, plus some group gear and food, on a sturdy rack mounted over the back wheel of your bike. You will hang panniers (these are saddlebags, pronounced “pan-yers”) off the rack and attach gear like your sleeping bag and sleeping pad to the top of the rack using bungee cords. On average, you will carry about 40 pounds of equipment on your bike (not including the weight of the bike).
You should come prepared and recognize that some days will be more challenging and longer than others. Delays occur due to a wide range of variables—weather patterns change and road conditions vary. You, or someone in your group, might get a flat tire or encounter another mechanical issue that could delay your group. On some days your group will arrive at camp in the early afternoon, with plenty of time to explore, play games or go swimming, while on other days your group will spend more time on the bike.
Every Pacific Coast participant should complete all of the spring training rides, and, once on the trip, must be able to maintain 10 mph over challenging terrain on a fully loaded bicycle. Please keep the following responsible riding practices in mind as you complete your spring training rides.
Responsible riding practices
WEAR A HELMET AND CLOSED-TOED SHOES
Always, no exceptions.
DESIGN A GOOD TRAINING LOOP
To the extent possible, ride on bike paths, bike lanes, and bike routes.
FOLLOW THE LAW
You have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.
Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you before turning or changing lanes.
Ride where people can see you and wear a hi-vis top. Ride with your rear light on and flashing. Make eye contact with others and don’t ride on sidewalks. When possible, ride with others.
Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and other road hazards. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
Check that your tires are sufficiently inflated, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release levers are closed. Carry tools and supplies that are appropriate for your ride.
- 4 weeks before your trip: two rides of 8-10 miles each.
- 3 weeks before your trip: three rides of 10-12 miles each.
- 2 weeks before your trip: four rides of 12-14 miles each.
- 1 week before your trip: five rides of 14-16 miles each.
All training rides should be at an average speed of between 10 to 12 miles per hour. Once on the trip, you and your group will take multiple short breaks throughout the day—for water and snacks, to stretch and rest, to relax and enjoy the view.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland trips are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be enthusiastic, positive, helpful and supportive of your trip mates and your leaders. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. Arriving ready for a challenge—and prepared to contribute to an enthusiastic group—will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland trip.