a hotly debated question for those of us live in the state. I’d say somewhere like Bishop on the eastern sierras, but could also argue for somewhere more remote in northern california
I’d vote for North Lake Tahoe. It has local access to trails. It’s close enough to drive to Yosemite, Sierra and Sequoia. And, it’s close enough to towns and airports like Reno and Sacramento to fly to other locations.
I guess it all depends on what you want to see:
I have friends in South Lake Tahoe who spend every weekend backpacking up in the Desolation Wilderness and still haven’t seen all of it!
I loved how easy it was to get to the uncrowded portions of Yosemite and Sequoia NP’s from Mammoth Lakes and Bishop.
My family in Redding say it’s great that they can be 3 hours from the Redwoods and 3 hours from the Sierras.
Underated part of California wilderness is Los Padres National forest. I lived in Santa Barbara for three years and this is where I fell in love with the outdoors. The forest goes all the way up to Big Sur and down near LA. There’s so much backcountry there and just far enough away form huge cities so there’s not a ton of foot traffic