Hikes in California
Hiking in California is an amazing experience. And not only because of Yosemite National Park––which is definitely a highlight! California is also home to numerous national and state parks, recreational areas and monuments that are filled with amazing hiking trails.
California is one of the most diverse states when it comes to nature. Here, you can find yourself hiking in the mountains one day and exploring the amazing pacific beaches the next. It is full of beautiful mountain peaks, lush green forests and beautiful beaches. Not to mention the Giant Sequoia Trees, volcanoes and an abundance of wildlife.
The state calls to the hearts of adventurers from around the world, promising incredible weather, natural beauty, rolling vineyards and on occasion, epic ski hills (that are perfect for hiking!). Interested? Then check out the best hikes in California!
15 Great Hikes in California
- Hidden Valley Loop: This is a classic Joshua Tree hike that takes in the stunning boulders native to the area.
- Warren Peak: One of the few elevated hikes in the area, considering most of Joshua Tree is flat, this makes for a fun, quick climb to the rocky summit of Warren Peak.
- Ryan Mountain: Set off on this popular hike to reach the summit for outstanding panoramic views over Joshua Tree National Park.
- Panorama Trail: This is not only one of the best hikes in California, but makes our shortlist for hikes across America. You simply can’t miss this one! Follow the Mist Trail to reach stunning Panorama Trail and eventually, panoramic Glacier Point!
- Yosemite Valley: Take in all the highlights of the iconic Yosemite National Park from this easy trail. While not overly challenging, hikers are rewarded with incredible mountain views from all angles.
- Clouds Rest Hike:: Those looking to get their heart pumping and legs burning will love this challenging hike. Crest the Cloud Mountain summit to observe all of Yosemite Valley from high above.
- Mount Dana: Tackle this unofficial path to get far away from the crowds, while still taking in unbelievable views! Most of this hike requires a steep ascent and will have your legs wobbling by the end.
- Mount Hoffman: While you’ll have to wait for the snow to melt each year to tackle this one, the legendary John Muir regarded this summit to be the most dramatic in the entire valley. We have to agree!
- Yosemite Falls: For an up close and personal view of the iconic Yosemite Falls, you’ll want to tackle this hike. Meander through the park, taking in the gorgeous mountain views, until you reach the magical falls.
- Tomales Point Trail, Marin County: This hike is unique, as it’s located within Tule Elk Preserve, nestled near the Pacific Ocean and as such, is often covered in fog. With beautiful seashore views from the top of Tomales Point, we wouldn’t recommend skipping this one.
- Kirby Cove: For unparalleled views of the surrounding Bay area, you won’t find any better than on Kirby Cove. Lookout over the amazing Golden Gate Bridge and snap a photo or two, then walk the rocky shore and indulge in a picnic lunch.
- The Mist Trail: On hot summer days, this hike is incredibly refreshing, as you pass two incredible waterfalls offering a breezy mist to cool hikers down and unbeatable views.
- Lembert Dome: One of the easier mountains to summit in the Yosemite area, Lembert Dome provides beautiful lookout points over Tuolumne Meadows and a delicious grill at the base for a post-hike snack.
- Lost Horse Loop Trail: Weave past a historic gold mine set against an incredible desert landscape on the Lost Horse Loop trail. With slightly challenging elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views at the top.
- Split Rock Trail: This dreamy spot is incredible for photographers, with a dense collection of boulders, incredible local cacti and stunning cliffs––all which can be accessed on this quick hike.
When is the Best Time to Hike in California
California is an incredible state for year-round hiking, it’s one of the reasons we love it so much! Regardless of season, there is always a perfect trail to be found. Spring is perhaps our favourite for the stunning wildflowers that dot the trails that time of year, plus it also offers more moderate temperatures than scorching hot summer. May to June provides a nice cool breeze, less crowded hiking trails and incredible greenery as the world comes back to life after following the winter season.
Best Regions to Hike in California
There are so many fantastic regions for hiking in California, it’s hard for us to choose a favourite! Joshua Tree National Park has become Instagram famous in the past few years for its incredible desert landscapes, rusty-coloured mountains and wild cacti that are native to the land. It also has become known for its ever-popular boho scene from indy hotels to rustic airstream escapes. North Bay is one of the most-loved locations in the Bay area and it’s not hard to see why. You can immerse yourself in incredible coastal views, charming oceanside towns and some of the best hiking trails along the water's edge. And of course, Yosemite National Park, one of the most renowned National Parks in California, if not the world. With beautiful mountains, breathtaking waterfalls, pristine lakes and glistening glaciers, you can’t miss this iconic hiking region.
Other Activities in California
One of our favourite outdoor activities in California involves hitting the waves for a surf sesh. Offering some of the best beginner waves in the world, we like to visit the beach early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise. Another epic outdoor activity? Scrambling and boulder climbing! With unbelievable rock faces across the state, there is no shortage of adventurous spots to practice some freehand styling.
California's Adventure Tours
If you’re looking for a high-adrenaline tour, why not let 10Adventures help? With our wide-range of adventure tours in California, all you have to do is pack your bag—the rest is taken care of! From climbing a 10,000 ft peak in Yosemite to backpacking across the peaks of Sierra Nevada––10Adventure tours have got it all.
How to Plan a Trip to California
Ready to explore the natural beauty of California? Read on to find our favourite spots for eating, sleeping, exploring and playing! We’ve rounded up complete guides to some of our favourite destinations in California, so all you have to do is pack a bag! From Yosemite, to North Bay, to Joshua Tree, we’ve got you covered.
Hiking regions in California
- Angeles National Forest (100)
- Death Valley (39)
- Inyo National Forest (73)
- Joshua Tree National Park (57)
- Lake Tahoe (70)
- Lassen (22)
- Los Angeles (70)
- Los Padres National Forest (57)
- North Bay (10)
- Point Reyes National Seashore (35)
- Redwoods National and State Parks (44)
- San Bernardino National Forest (100)
- San Francisco (65)
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (92)
- Shasta-Trinity National Forest (69)
- Sierra National Forest (50)
- Stanislaus National Forest (52)
- Yosemite National Park (139)
Best Hikes in California
If we only did one hike in Yosemite, the Panorama Trail would be it. We think it's one of the best hikes in the USA. The route up the Mist Trail, along the Panorama Trail to Glacier Point and then down the 4.0 mi path is the best hike in all of Yosemite National Park.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
Hill 88 Loop
Hill 88 Loop, located in the Golden Gate Recreation Area in Marin County, is an excellent choice for dog lovers who wish to take their four-legged friends on hiking adventures near the beach. This is a great trail with amazing views, but if you do not like dogs be sure to avoid the busy times of day!
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail
The Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail is a stunning route in Death Valley National Park. Short, flat and family-friendly, the route takes you onto arid salt flats that are both picturesque and humbling in their sheer vastness. The Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail is simply a must do when visiting Death Valley National Park.
Jumbo Rocks Campground Loop
The Jumbo Rocks Campground Loop is an easily accessible and scenic route within Joshua Tree National Park. Being both short and with little elevation change, the loop is perfect for families and those seeking a more casual hiking experience. The Jumbo Rocks Campground Loop leads the hiker through beautiful large boulder gardens and windswept desert shrubbery.
Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail
Regarded as one of the best routes within the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail is a must do when visiting Inyo National Forest. After traversing a scenic pathway, the route ends at a stunning waterfall that will not leave you disappointed!
Cinder Cone Nature Trail
Short in distance and with a moderate amount of elevation incline, the Cinder Cone Nature Trail is a family-friendly route with lots to offer! Leading you on a fascinating and informative journey throughout an incredible volcanic formation, the trail is mesmerizing in its uniqueness. In addition to its intriguing geology, the views found throughout the Cinder Cone Nature Trails duration are sublime.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Trail
The Deep Creek Hot Springs Trail is a popular hiking route in the San Bernardino Forest that leads you to a series of relaxing thermal pools set along the creek. While out hiking the trail, you will traverse the rugged desert landscape until you arrive at the edge of Deep Creek where you can soak in the relaxing hot springs before heading back. Hikers should take note that the road leading into the trailhead is very rough and will require a 4x4 high clearance vehicle to safely traverse.
The Rubicon Trail is one of the most scenic adventures in California that connects two of the most beautiful state parks, D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay. Explore the shoreline of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, and marvel in the breathtaking panoramas of the snow-dusted Sierra Nevada Mountains. This epic excursion is a must-add to your adventure bucket list.
Angel Falls via Willow Creek Trail
The Angel Falls via Willow Creek Trail is an amazing adventure in the Sierra National Forest that boasts incredible views of the cascades. Hike through mixed woodlands adorned with granite outcrops and along the surging waters of Willow Creek up to Angel Falls and the Devil’s Slide.
Kennedy Meadows to Relief Reservoir Trail
The Kennedy Meadows to Relief Reservoir Trail is arguably one of the most scenic adventures in the Stanislaus National Forest. Wander past several waterfalls, natural pools, and granite rock formations to the reservoir and dam. Though we will do our best to depict the beauty of this route, we can’t do it justice, as hard as we try!
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Other Activities in California
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