California Hikes Tips

Read these 8 California Hikes Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Hiking tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What are some great hiking trails in San Diego?

Diverse Hiking Trails in San Diego

San Diego is "America's Finest City," and the hiking trails in San Diego prove it! Some top choices in San Diego hiking include beach, bay, and mountain trails.

  • Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla has some of the best hiking in San Diego. You can hike down to the beach, stay up along the bluffs, or do a bit of both. It's a stunning natural preserve in the middle of a growing urban area, and it's a top choice for hiking trails in San Diego every year.
  • The Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad, north of San Diego, is a great hike for families. The trails are easy, and much of the appeal of this coastal lagoon is the great variety of birds you can see as you hike, so bring the binoculars!
  • Balboa Park. Near downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, but trails run through some of the rugged areas of the park. If you're not up to canyon hiking, strolling through the park and a visit to the Botanical Garden make a nice walk on a sunny day.
  • Julian and Cuyamaca backcountry hikes. Much of this area was damaged in a wildfire in 2003, but is renewing itself fairly well. There are many hikes here, from easy strolls to strenuous hikes to the top of Cuyamaca Peak. About 50 miles east of San Diego, the fall colors here are some of the best in the county.
Hiking trails in San Diego run the gamut from beach to bay and beyond, and you'll find something wonderful every time you hike in San Diego!

What are your choices from hiking Bay Area trails?

Hiking Bay Area Trails

Hiking Bay Area trails is a diverse feat. You can hike to the beach in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, or climb Mount Tamalpais right across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

Just south of the Bay Area is beautiful Monterey and Big Sur, while north you'll find incredible Point Reyes and the rugged northern coast. The great thing about hiking bay area trails is there are so many, you'll never get bored, and some are just a few minutes away from downtown San Francisco.

A wonderful Bay Area destination that some people miss is Muir Woods, also north of The City in Marin. Take a trip to Muir Woods and enjoy a leisurely walk through the park's towering redwood forest – it's a little bit of heaven close to the City by the Bay.

Where can I find some less crowded Northern California hikes?

Northern California Hikes

From one end of the Golden State to the other, you can hike any kind of terrain, in any kind of weather. Northern California's fir and pine forests and high mountain peaks like Mount Shasta are wonderful hiking destinations. In fact, there are some lesser known parks in Northern California where you can avoid the crowds and still enjoy some awesome California hikes.

  • Mt. Lassen, outside Susanville, is a wonderful weekend location. On most weekends, if you arrive early, you can still find a campsite, and there are hikes the whole family will love. Try "Bumpass Hell," and show the kids real, boiling mud pots, they'll love it!
  • Mount Shasta is also a great destination, there are plenty of hikes all through the Shasta-Trinity area, and it can be far less congested than parks closer to the Bay Area.
  • On the coast, head up to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, north of Eureka, and enjoy cool shady paths under towering old-growth redwoods. Many of the hikes here are easy and short—perfect for the entire family. Look for herds of elk along the shoreline as you drive through the park.
  • Devil's Postpile is located near Mammoth Lakes, and it's a great summertime park. The kids will enjoy the massive rock formations, and hiking around them is a real experience. There are many trails outside the park as well, and the Pacific Crest Trail passes right through the park.
Experiencing Northern California hikes can be breathtaking, and there are so many choices, there's no reason not to enjoy a Northern California hike this weekend!

Where's some good Orange County hiking?

Orange County Hiking

Hiking in the O.C. is perfect for the entire family. There are beach trails, mountain trails, and everything in between, and when you're done; you can take the whole family to Disneyland!

  • Speaking of Disneyland, the Anaheim Hills Trail gives a good introduction to the oak woods of California's backcountry. The area is loaded with horse and hiking trails, and it's easy to get to from most of Orange County.
  • Crystal Cove State Park is right off
    Pacific Coast Highway
    (everyone calls it PCH), between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar. The trails head away from the beach into the coastal canyons, offering great views of the O.C. coastline, and even Santa Catalina Island on a clear day!
  • Whiting Ranch in Trabuco Canyon has a myriad of hiking trails, and camping is available, as well. Mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians share the over 15 miles of trails in the park.
  • If you're looking for a very unique hiking experience, try Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano. This wilderness park is protected, and so, hikers must be 18 years or over, and they cannot hike alone. If you want to see what California looked like before it was settled, this is the place to visit.

What's a good California riding and hiking trail?

Tahoe Rim Trail – Superb California Riding and Hiking Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a popular and breathtaking California riding and hiking trail in Northern California. The trail is open to hiking, and mountain biking, and horseback riding in certain areas. It circles breathtaking Lake Tahoe – "The Lake of the Sky," for 165 miles of incredible vistas of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra.

Built entirely by volunteers, the trail runs along the ridges of some of the mountains circling Lake Tahoe, and so the elevation can be a little difficult for some hikers. The trail is only open in the summer, after the snow melts, and it is free for day use. You'll need a permit to use the trail for overnight backpacking.

You'll travel from Nevada to California and back along the trail, and each state's regulations are a bit different, so visit the trail website before you hike the Rim Trail, so you know what to expect. Dogs are welcome on the Nevada side of the trail, too!

Is there really Los Angeles hiking available when I visit?

Los Angeles Hiking

There's more to Los Angeles than the Sunset Strip. There is hiking in Los Angeles. In fact, Los Angeles hiking is everywhere around the county, in some places you might not expect to find open space at all.

  • Along the coast, try Malibu Creek State Park. You'll get great views of the beaches and upscale homes below while you enjoy a hike alongside a stream or through backcountry woodland.
  • Point Mugu State Park, north of L.A., offers coastline and interior hiking in a spectacular location. It's close enough for day hikes, but overnight camping is a lot more fun.
  • The Santa Monica Mountains look down over Hollywood and Los Angeles, and they offer hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails of all sorts. This recreation area is one of the most popular in L.A., so mid-week visits are the best.
Los Angeles hiking is more popular than you think, that's why you'll find so many hiking trails in the metropolitan area!

Where are some good hikes in Southern California?

Enjoyable Hikes in Southern California

There are so many hikes in Southern California, it's hard to decide which one to try first! Here are some favorites.

  • The San Gorgonio Mountain Wilderness in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles is a world away from the bright lights of Hollywood. You can day hike here, on easy trails, or go backpacking for days at a time, it's up to you.
  • San Jacinto Peak outside Palm Springs. Well really, San Jacinto is "up" from Palm Springs. You take the tram ride to the top of the mountain and hike to your heart's content. It can be cold up on the mountain even when it's hot down below, so bring extra clothing!
  • Santa Anita Canyon Loop. If you visit Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, take some time to explore Santa Anita Canyon nearby. You'll find a variety of easy to strenuous hikes here, just minutes from downtown Los Angeles.
  • Santa Monica Mountains. The hikes in this recreation area literally look down on Hollywood and Los Angeles. Who says you can't hike in L.A.?
You'll never run out of hikes in Southern California when you visit!

Is California hiking really that good?

California Hiking From Shore to Sierra

On your visit to California, make sure you spend some time California hiking. You can hike on the shore, in the backcountry, in the mountains, in the desert, and much more. Even in the big metropolitan areas, you can find little pieces of wilderness, if you know where to look.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains are one of the most popular hiking destinations, and so are the major national parks, like Yosemite. Hiking choices in these areas are countless, and you can hike into the backcountry, even on the busiest summer weekend, and not see another soul on the trails.

Along the coast, there are many campgrounds and beaches that offer hiking on bluffs, along the water, and though lagoons and other coastal wetlands. Inland, you can hike in Palm Springs and the desert, or head to the Central Valley for some leisurely hikes through forest and foothills.

California hiking can be rugged, serene, or adventurous, but there's one thing for sure. You can find any kind of hike you're looking for in California!

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Phyllis Serbes