Hey California! Where's Your Next Summer Hike?

July 31, 2017

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Stephanie Goraczkowski

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It's the season for summer hiking! If you're in California this summer, we've put together a list of places to explore. Regardless of whether you’re an advanced, multi-day hiker or just wanting to take a casual stroll through some of nature’s best scenic views in California, here are some of the best trails for all hiking experience levels.

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Crescent Beach Loop Walk | Crescent City

This loop trail is all ocean views and sandy shorelines. A slightly elevated coastal forest leads to an overlook above Enderts Beach.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 1.1 miles

Elevation: 20 feet

Level of difficulty: EASY

 

Yurok Loop Walk | Redwood National and State Parks

This loop features coastal woods with an ocean view midway through the hike. The second part of the trail isn’t used very much, so after the ocean view lookout, it's one of the most serene hiking spots in Northern California.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 1.1 miles

Elevation: 120 feet

Level of difficulty: EASY

 

Hobbs Wall Trail | Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park

A historic trail named for the Hobbs, Wall & Co. timber company, one of the biggest logging companies during the mid-1800s. If you’re looking for redwoods, this is your jackpot for the best California hiking in the area. This hike is full of first and second-growth redwoods all throughout the trail.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 3.4 miles

Elevation: 807 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Boy Scout Trail | Jedediah Redwood State Park

This out and back trail features old-growth redwoods and is a private, dense hike through 2.5 miles of forest. The road to the trail entrance is pretty narrow, so taking a smaller car there might be best.

Trail Type: Out and back

Distance: 4.9 miles

Elevation: 100 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Bear Creek Trail | Sierra National Forest

If you’re into great swimming spots, this is the hike for you. Located near Mono Hot Springs, Bear Creek Trail has several pools, lakes and hot springs to get your feet wet. But even if swimming isn’t your thing, this trail has some beautiful views that make the hike worthwhile.

Trail Type: Out and back

Distance: 13 miles

Elevation: 4,960 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Lost Coast Trail: Mattole to Black Sands Beach | King Range Wilderness

A top-notch coastline hike through Northern California, this is a trail that runs near the shore, so bring your rain/water gear and plan on getting wet. Planning your hike around the tides is necessary—about a third of the route can’t be hiked at high tide. Don’t forget to pack for overnight camping, because this beautiful hike takes about 2-3 days.

Trail Type: Point-to-point

Distance: 24.9 miles

Elevation: 3,500 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Lake Marie and Sugarloaf Peak Loop | Skyline Park

This is a challenging trail near Napa that features a steep incline/decline and panoramic views of Napa Valley and the bay. On this hike, you get dense forest terrain, grassy slopes, rocky hills, and many scenic overlooks. Truly an adventure for the experienced hiker.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 7.6 miles

Elevation: 2,027 feet

Level of difficulty: HARD

 

 

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MIDDLE CALIFORNIA

General Sherman Tree Trail | Sequoia National Park

This is a wide, paved trail with staircases and easy terrain. Plus, you get to see the General Sherman Tree, the biggest sequoia tree in the world—and it’s still growing!

Trail Type: Out and back

Distance: 0.8 miles

Elevation: 157 feet

Level of difficulty: EASY

 

Sequoia Trail | Big Basin Redwoods State Park

A fun, short redwood hike, the Sequoia Trail is located among a forest of old-growth redwoods. The terrain is pretty flat, with a visit to Sempervirens Falls, Slippery Rock, and a last mile decent into a redwood ravine.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation: 692 feet

Level of difficulty: EASY

 

Ano Nuevo Point Trail | Ano Nuevo State Park

Ano Nuevo Point Trail is the perfect hike for learning about wildlife, native trees, and California endangered species. The trail starts at the Marine Education Center and leads to the natural preserve. Get a permit for this, so you can catch a glimpse of the elephant seals. Totally worth it!

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 4.3 miles

Elevation: 216 feet

Level of difficulty: EASY

 

Castle Rock and Goat Rock Trail | Castle Rock State Park

This is a challenging loop trail near Los Gatos that features a waterfall, vistas, and thick woods... but the stone formations take the cake as the most interesting part of this hike. These rocks, called “tafoni”, have formed over time and been reshaped too look like honeycomb, due to the weathering process.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 4.6 miles

Elevation: 1,164 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

French Trail and Stream Trail Loop | Redwood Regional Park

Lots of redwood shade and friendly hikers on this trail! This is a highly-used hiking spot, with well-marked trails and views of beautiful groves. This is a pretty easy hike to navigate, plus you can bring your dog on the trail with you!

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 7.8 miles

Elevation: 1,781 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Berry Creek Falls Trail | Big Basin Redwoods State Park

You have amazing falls and landscapes to look forward to on this challenging trail. Hike out to Berry Creek Falls and either loop around to complete your trek, or do an out and back style hike. Either way the falls are worth the sharp inclines and declines along the way.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 9.5 miles

Elevation: 2,874 feet

Level of difficulty: HARD

 

Mission Peak Loop | Mission Peak Regional Preserve

Get some great south bay views with this trail. The first part of this hike is all uphill and a big challenge, however the views make it worth the climb. The decent is rocky, so take note that the difficulty will increase during rainy seasons. This is definitely one of the greater summer hiking spots if you’re looking to challenge yourself.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation: 2,191 feet

Level of difficulty: HARD

 

 

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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Reef Point and Crystal Cove Trail | Crystal Cove State Park

Explore the beach and tidepools with this easy trail near Laguna Beach. The trail has beach access, bathroom access, and The Beachcomber Café for dining right on the beach.

Trail Type: Out and back

Distance: 6.2 miles

Elevation: 524 feet

Level of difficulty: EASY

 

Bommer Ridge Trail | Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Bommer Ridge Trail is great for hikers and mountain bikers alike. This wide trail has several smaller trails the branch off for a “choose your own adventure” experience and is relatively flat—a great hike for first-timers!

Trail Type: Out and back

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation: 908 feet

Level of difficulty: EASY

 

Gaviota Wind Caves Trail | Gaviota State Park

A short, rocky, and semi-difficult hike in and out, the Gaviota Wind Caves are a cool site to see. The sandstone caves have been formed by the weather and offer great coastal views once you get there. This is a great little rock climbing adventure!

Trail Type: Out and back

Distance: 2.1 miles

Elevation: 590 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Broken Hill Trail | La Jolla

Loved by the locals, this is a scenic trail hike through the Torrey Pines beach cliffs. Get the ease of a trail walk mixed with great ocean views. Walk along the beach on the way back, or go at sunrise/sunset to get the prettiest beach views.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 2.6 miles (round trip)

Elevation: 429 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Solstice Canyon Loop Trail | Santa Monica

This Malibu trail is one of the most popular hiking spots in Southern California due to its shaded areas in the canyon, beautiful views and history—like the oldest standing stone building in Malibu, Tropical Terrace mansion ruins, and the Santa Monica Conservancy. This is a hike and an exploratory adventure all in one!

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 3.4 miles

Elevation: 918 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

Potato Chip Rock by Mt. Woodson Trail | Lake Poway Park

Mt. Woodson is an easily accessible hike with some steep and narrow areas. Make it to the top and get your picture with Potato Chip Rock, and head back down the hill. This trail is a fun day trip for both tourists and locals.

Trail Type: Out and back

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation: 2,335 feet

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM

 

San Jacinto Peak Loop Trail | San Jacinto State Park

This is a beautiful, long hike near Idyllwild. With this trail, you have the option of making a long day hike out of it, or hiking to Little Round Valley to camp overnight before heading back. Long climbs and decents are worth it for the view.

Trail Type: Loop

Distance: 17.7 miles

Elevation: 5,377 feet

Level of difficulty: HARD

 

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