Fuel for the Trail: Exploring Vegan and Gluten-Free Options

Food on the trail is so important. Sometimes, it seems like the next snack or meal is the only thing that keeps hikers going. The vegan and gluten-free options on the trail have been shocking and a special treat!

Julian, CA – Mile 77

During our first zero day in Julian, the group I’ve been hiking with and I arrived in town late after hitching from Scissors Crossing. We decided to visit a local brewery called Julian Beer Co., where I discovered a delicious gluten-free and vegan pizza. Although it wasn’t listed on their chalkboard menu, I had to ask for that specific type of pizza. It was exactly what I needed after completing 77 miles. The next morning, I had a fantastic breakfast at Kali’s Garden Cafe, which included a tasty breakfast skillet, coffee, and a wellness shot. It was fantastic! On a side note, I heard about a pie place in Julian that offers gluten-free and vegan pies. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to check it out, but it might be worth exploring!

Ranchita, CA – Mile 101

During our stay at Mountain Valley Retreat near Ranchita, we encountered a host knowledgeable in dietary restrictions, which was refreshing. She prepared homemade vegetable soup, gluten-free sourdough bread for dinner, chia seed pudding, and potatoes for breakfast. As a bonus, she even taught us some hiker yoga. I highly recommend hikers consider visiting this retreat!

Idyllwild, CA – Mile 179

While in Idyllwild, I couldn’t resist indulging in the donuts at Pure Coffee! They had a wide selection of gluten-free and vegan bakery items, and I ate a chocolate donut and a lemon donut—twice! I even packed one for the trail!


So far, my resupply boxes have been successful. I picked up my boxes at the Mount Laguna, Warner Springs, and Wrightwood post offices. However, I miscalculated the days and miles, resulting in having more food than necessary. Fortunately, I could share the extra food with fellow hikers, which was a nice gesture. The variety of oats, bars, snacks, and dehydrated meals in each week’s resupply box provided the essential calories, protein, and energy I needed to hike daily.

In Idyllwild, I also resupplied at Fairway Market for breakfast and snacks and at Nomad Adventures for backpacker meals, which had numerous vegan and gluten-free options. I also resupplied at Staters and Vons in Big Bear.

Interestingly, I noticed a difference in my energy and hunger levels when I resupplied in town. I felt a slight decrease in energy and didn’t feel as full. I don’t know if this is solely due to being on the trail longer or influenced by the food I’m consuming.

Favorite Foods

So far, my favorite meals have been the dehydrated tofu scrambles and tortillas. It’s a simple lunch that I enjoyed while cold-soaked! Additionally, all the dehydrated meals I’ve had rehydrated perfectly in my Jetboil, and I’m satisfied with each meal’s flavor and overall taste.

Trail Angels

I must express my deep gratitude to all the Trail Angels who have gone above and beyond to accommodate my dietary needs. They have indeed been a blessing, as there are even times when restaurants cannot provide suitable options. Thank you so much to these fantastic Trail Angels!





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Comments 1

  • Randy Chase : Apr 8th

    Great stuff Erik! I start my AT hike in 2 days. Having been vegan for over 12 years, this will be interesting. I am thinking of doing the PCT in a couple years (but maybe after the AT, I might change my mind!) so your write ups are a good resource.


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