We love hiking all over California — seeing views of the mountains, forests, beach, and cities. I wish I could hike a trail every day! If I had a week and unlimited travel time to do just that, here are the top 7 hikes I would go on in California.
1. Fern Canyon
EASY, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Redwood National and State Parks, Orick, CA 95555
Distance: 2.o mi — Elevation: 3o ft — Time: 1 hour
This hike is super easy and great for families to explore! It’s a natural canyon filled with lush green plants and little footbridges. Going in the winter isn’t the best because the ground is soggy and potentially flooded depending on the rains, but this is a wonderful shady place to escape the heat in the summer months. Also, Jurassic Park 2 was filmed in this very place!
2. Potato Chip Rock
DIFFICULT, Mount Woodson Trail, Poway, CA 92064
Distance: 7.5 mi — Elevation: 945 ft — Time: 3 hours
This hike is iconic for the fun rock structures along the way as well as at the peak (the Potato Chip itself!). But, don’t be fooled — it’s also quite a hard hike to do. The Mount Woodson trail gets really steep after the beginning portion (which is a calm walk around a lake). You’ll want to bring lots of water and have a little spare time on your hands to wait in line to take a picture with the Chip! If you’re not up for the challenge, you can drive directly to the top of the rock.
3. Summit of Mt Livermore
EASY, Angel Island, Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920
Distance: 5.o mi — Elevation: 1425 ft — Time: 2.5 hours
Chances are that you’ve never hiked on an island of California, even if you’ve checked off lists and lists of trails on the mainland. Try out the experience by peaking Mt. Livermore on Angel Island! When I went, I loved the views of the ocean all around, as well as San Francisco Bay. Take the ferry and make an easy, relaxing Saturday out of it.
4. Inspiration Point (Santa Barbara)
MODERATE, Spyglass Ridge Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Distance: 3.5 mi — Elevation: 998 ft — Time: 2 hours
Clearly, we love Inspiration Point — as do many other Californians. But, don’t be confused! There are at least 3 hikes named Inspiration Point just in the LA area. This one is actually in Santa Barbara, and takes you up high to get a birds-eye view of the sunny city’s oceanside, architecture, and palm trees!
5. Rubicon Trail
EASY, start at D.L Bliss State Park, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Distance: 13.0 mi — Elevation: 6350 ft — Time: 4.5 hours
California hikers must love the trails around Lake Tahoe — and this trail is no different! Rubicon Trail goes right along southwest shore of the lake, giving you great lakeside views as you glimpse the blue water and travel between various state parks. If 13 miles round trip is a little long for your taste, doing just sections of this trail is also very possible 🙂
6. Mission Peak
MODERATE, 43600 Mission Blvd b/t Cedar St & Loop Rd, Fremont, 94538
Distance: 6.o mi — Elevation: 2128 ft — Time: 3 hours
This popular East Bay hike takes you up, up to the top where there is a pole that everybody Instagrams pictures at. In early spring, you’ll be surrounded by wildflowers and cows as you walk. In other times of the year, rest assured that there are many benches to rest at and trees throughout for spots of shade.
7. Cucamonga Peak
DIFFICULT, 20 Ice House Canyon Rd, Mt Baldy, CA, 91759, USA
Distance: 11.0 mi — Elevation: 5054 ft — Time: 7 hours
As Southern Californians, we kept the best for last 😉 This hike is sweltering in the summer and icy in the winter, but it’s a beautiful challenge that’s just a little outside LA. Truly, it’s categorized as a wilderness hike, so brace yourself. Planning wise, you have to go early, have a National Forest Adventure Pass for parking, and also obtain a permit to hike in the forest. Go hike California!
Pictures by: Kirt Edblom (Fern Canyon), Mike (Fern Canyon), Amber K. (Potato Chip Rock), Davey Nin (Potato Chip Rock), Mark (Potato Chip Rock), Franco Folini (Mt Livermore), Sergejf (Mt Livermore), Brian (Inspiration Point), Travis Wise (Mission Peak), Oleg Alexandrov (Mission Peak), Ray Bouknight (Rubicon Trail), Mitch Barrie (Cucamonga Peak)