Scramble across the trailless desert in Joshua Tree's wild northeast corner to inner Basin Pass. BY EMELIE FROJEN
Climb to the top of the Sierra Buttes for sweeping views from an old fire lookout. BY CHELISE SIMMONS
Hiking at Pinnacles National Park will make you feel like a true outdoor explorer as you make your way through heart of Balconies Cave Trail.
By Melissa Avery
Take a leisurely hike among the giant redwoods to Tiptoe Falls at Portola Redwood State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Backpack into the heart of Sequoia National Park to the beautiful snow-melted Pear Lake in Tokopah Valley.
Ahoy matey! Come along on a foggy, mysterious hike to Pirates Cove in Golden Gate National Recreation Area just outside of San Francisco, California.
Peacefully hike along Maguire Peaks awesome views on this northern loop of Sunol Regional Wilderness in the East Bay Hills.
Backpack into California’s history to Stewartville Backpackers Camp, when Black Diamond Mines was the largest coal mining operation in the San Francisco East Bay Hills.
Roam the Alahambra Valley hills, where John Muir spent 32 years of his life, enjoying Mt. Wanda's nature trails in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Hike along the rolling Coyote Hills, while enjoying great views of the San Francisco Bay and the East Bay marshlands.
Tag Mount Whitney, the Lower 48's highest peak, during this 42-mile trek into Sequoia National Park where there's more acreage of wilderness than you'll know what to do with.
In this 86-mile section, hike through Kings Canyon National Park into a series of JMT favorites.
Climb through a rejuvenating burn zone and a cinder cone-strewn hillside at the front end of this 32-mile stretch on the JMT
Squeeze this 4.3-mile dayhike in before the ferry departs for the mainland. Highlights: super rare pine trees and breezy views of the mighty Pacific.
Trek along a series of High Sierra lakes nestled in sculpted granite basins below towering alpine peaks on this 11.6-mile out-and-back.
Watch ships glide into Half Moon Bay as you climb a steep ridgeline, then drop into a secluded ravine perfect for spying wildlife. This loop with recommended spur trail runs 7.6 miles.
This easy 6.2-mile loop links lush marshland with ancient mountains–now small weathered hills–that were once islands before river sediment filled in the channel.
This easy 4.2-mile loop is the perfect sunset hike, thanks to sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Keep an eye out for foraging rabbits and deer.
This 7.6-mile loop stitches together windswept coastline bluffs with the steep and quiet foothills of Santa Cruz County. Open to hikers and mountain bikers.
Take a self-guided tour of abandoned mine shafts and old miner homesteads on this 7.9-mile loop with breathtaking vistas of the San Francisco Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Jagged sandstone cliffs, glorious wildflowers, and deep canyons seem endless on this 9-mile out-and-back ridgeline run in Cleveland National Forest.
Trace the rugged, uninhabited coastline of Crystal Cove on this 5.2-mile out-and-back to sunbleached bluffs, swirling tidal pools, and a deserted settlement of old beach villas.
Trek into history on this 7-mile out-and-back in the San Gabriel foothills. You’ll visit the ruins of a luxurious hotel and cog railway that date back to the early 1900s.
This 4.6-mile canyon hike features chilly mountain pools, several beautiful waterfalls, and slim sandstone cliffs set in a cool oasis of lush oak and sycamore forests.
Savor sunny views of Catalina Island and the Pacific Ocean, then descend to a cool creek under the pleasant shade of sycamore trees on this 8.9-mile canyon loop.
Hike 6 miles to an island of green space nestled in L.A.’s suburbs, then climb steeply to panoramic views of the nearby San Gabriel mountains and the Hollywood Hills.
Hike, run, or bike this moderate 6.2-mile out-and-back, which follows a scenic, rolling ridgeline to a boot-shaped mesa with a stunning ocean vista.
Don’t be fooled by the name–this 9.3-mile out-and-back climbs more than 3,000 feet. But it rewards hikers with some of the most spectacular views in the LA foothills.
This 4.2-mile hike begins in a deep cleft of the Santa Monica Mnts., then winds up a mellow ridgeline with gorgeous ocean views. Zuma Canyon is a lush basin of wildflowers in season.
Giant stands of ponderosa pine alternate with patches of wildflowers along the rugged shorelines of Pinecrest and Catfish lakes on this isolated 5.9-mile loop.
Scamper 4 miles into a picturesque canyon loaded with Technicolor rock formations and high desert species like the brown eagle, desert fox, and California condor.
Before Napa Valley got its grapevine rep, the landscape likely resembled 2,000-acre Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, where redwoods shade this mellow 4.6-mile trail.
This 9.6-mile hike offers a tour of the Marin Headlands, then loops to include fine bluff views of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific. Bring extra clothes; the weather changes quickly.
This 5-mile loop wanders through huge redwood stands along the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Extend the trip with an overnight at a Sierra Club hut.
The rocky points of this 5.6-mile coastal hike offer some of the best tidal pool viewing in Southern California. Go at low tide to see crabs, sea stars, anemones, and sea hares.
Escape the city’s smog on this pretty 7.3-mile loop into the chaparral-covered ecosystem of La Jolla Canyon. Fresh air and Pacific Ocean vistas are only a 30-minute drive from downtown.
This 6.5-mile loop passes through sage, chaparral, and oak groves to a high plateau with panoramic views of the Santa Ana Mountains.
This easy 4.7-mile route loops past Sycamore Canyon Falls and the shady bottom of Big Sycamore Canyon.
Navigate the long, gorgeous valley of Bishop Creek’s Middle Fork to alpine lakes beneath spectacular Sierra Crest peaks. Leave early for this arduous 17-mile hike.
A steep, 330-foot cliff descent begins a 5-mile out-and-back along one of SoCal’s last undeveloped coasts–which happens to include a famous nude beach.
The 9.2-mile trek heads along one of California’s last pristine beaches to the swimming grounds of harbor seals and the once-endangered California gray whale.
Hike this rolling 5.8-mile loop on a weekday for quiet trails and frequent sightings of wild turkeys and deer.
The 4-mile climb to Mt. Livermore is the most ambitious hike on Angel Island, the historic immigration station in the center of San Francisco Bay.
Enjoy stellar views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz and the Angel Island on this 6-mile loop through Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
A 3,000-foot gain in 3.4 miles delivers landscape-painting vistas of pastoral valleys and idyllic California hamlets on this 6.8-mile round-trip.
Enjoy a gurgling creek, the staccato of canyon wrens, and ridgetop vistas on this 4.2-mile jaunt just minutes from downtown Pasadena.
This 7.4-mile loop in Mt. Tamalpais State Park links three superb trails stretching from ridgeline to sea.
If the surf is dead, hike up the coast bluffs of Wilder Ranch State Park for stellar views of Monterey Bay and a cool walk in a forest of redwood giants.
An oak-shaded creek with cat tails and mountain lion tracks.
Tall grass mixes with prickly pear on this 5.4-mile loop to sprawling ridgeline views of the Santa Ana Mountains, Bell Canyon, and San Juan Canyon.
Ramble from canyon views to shady forest along the exposed cliff bands above Santa Ysabel Creek.
Climb through several Bay Area ecosystems on this 8.6-mile ramble from Portola Valley to Windy Ridge.
This 7.3-mile loop over Eagle Peak offers panoramic views, from nearby Mt. Diablo to the Pacific Ocean.
This 4-mile lasso hike leads through redwood forests and coastal meadows to an abandoned golf clubhouse and movie set, plus superb views of Monterey Bay.
Climb high above the Pacific on this 6-mile loop over 3,111-foot Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Camp under sharp peaks and sharper stars on this 4-day, 20-mile tour along the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park. Summits, swimming holes, and trout abound.
Explore a desert moonscape of otherworldly cacti on this 4.2-mile hike to an abandoned gold prospect. Take plenty of water and sunscreen.
Enjoy the quiet trails and scenic views of Yosemite Valley’s less-traveled twin on this 28.7-mile overnighter. Early season is marked by waterfalls surging with spring meltoff.
Hit two alluring lakes while exploring a landscape carved by fire and chiseled by ice on this picturesque 9.2-mile out-and-back lined with plentiful wildflowers.
Discover ancient archaeology and island isolation (playful sea lions excepted) on this 5.2-mile loop through Santa Rosa’s steep canyons and sandy beaches.
Trek 24.4 miles to a 200-foot, glacier-fed waterslide, then bag the highest peak in the Trinity Alps. Bring a fly rod for rare red-meat brook trout.
This 12.8-mile cardio challenge climbs 3,000 feet to sweeping vistas in Agua Tibia Wilderness. Start early with lots of water, and bring gaiters for the chaparral.
Hike 5.5 miles into Ansel Adams country to the top of Sentinel Dome and around to Taft Point for fisheye panoramas of Yosemite Valley.
Experience the many moods of the chaparral and wildflowers in bloom en route to an unnamed summit on this 6.8-mile hike in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.
Escape cookie-cutter suburbia on this 4.5-mile hike or bike through a mix of soaring ridges, lush canyons, and remnants from the ranchero era.
Tackle a heart-thumping 5.6-mile, out-and-back scramble over boulder fields to a 2,700-foot peak perched high above the coastal haze of the Pacific.
This 8.3-mile lollipop loop quickly ascends 2,500 feet into the coastal hills; bring your camera to capture striking above-the-fog seascapes.
This challenging, 6.8-mile out-and-back is a classic in spring when lush greenery and riotously colored wildflowers cover the Bay Area foothills.
Explore the ranch estate of late cowboy humorist Will Rogers on this 5.4-mile trek among the Pacific Palisades ridgelines of Topanga State Park.
See the result of millions of years of tectonic movement
on this 7.9-mile loop beneath massive volcanic monoliths. Bring a flashlight for optional cave trails.
This 5.4-mile out-and-back has it all: 5-star camping, superlative swimming, and picture-postcard scenery along a patchwork of lakes in Tahoe National Forest.
Knock off an adventure quickie on this 4.2-mile loop into toothy, little-known ridgelines above the Central Valley.
Bobcats roam this 7-mile route through a redwood-canopied canyon in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
This aggressive 20.2-mile loop snakes past canyon walls and up aggressive ridgelines to stellar views of the Laguna Mountains and beyond.
This 8.4-mile circuit in Andrew Molera State Park showcases California’s most prized natural assets–sandy beaches, killer sunsets, and giant redwoods.
Answer the call of the wild on a 7.8-mile round-trip to the redwood retreat of an American literary icon. Later, try the cabernet at a local Sonoma vineyard.
Basecamp in a rarely visited basin and take daytrips to several alpine lakes with stunning views on this 17.2-mile, long-weekend backpacking trip.
This rigorous but rewarding 9.8-mile out-and-back on the Pacific Crest Trail climbs more than 2,000 feet to a summit with splendid high-desert views.
This 5-mile loop winds through an undisturbed swath of parkland to babbling creeks and fine views across the San Fernando Valley to the San Gabriel Mountains.
This 5.2-mile desert hike is great any time, but spectacular in spring when the Antelope Buttes bloom with native grasses and fire-orange poppies, the California state flower.
Amazing views of Catalina Island and Abalone Cove unfold right from the start of this 5.2-mile hike. Minutes from metro L.A., this quiet wildland is also home to red-tailed hawks.
This 14.4-mile loop starts in a lush canyon framed by a secluded waterfall, then ascends to a mellow ridgeline in the Santa Ana foothills.
Escape Yosemite Valley crowds on this 21.2-mile, multiday trek to glacial cirques and turquoise lakes deep in the wilds of the Ansel Adams Wilderness.
Climb to the site of a legendary plane crash on this 5.5-mile loop through the rolling hills of Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park.
This beautiful 7.1-mile figure-eight route visits a weathered farm and two ponds, then passes through chaparral patches to isolated oak stands.
This 5.7-mile loop visits SoCal’s last wild river in Santa Margarita Canyon, a refuge hosting numerous species of endangered birds and plants.
Wander through a remote paradise of high-alpine lakes in the lightly visited Trinity Alps on this 33.2-mile, long-weekend trip in Klamath National Forest.
A stiff 2,300-foot climb rewards you with monster views and a waterfall swim on this 8.8-mile out-and-back in the Santa Monica Mountains.
This mild 4-miler won’t wear you out as it winds through coastal redwoods and parallels a quiet, shady creek in Huddart County Park.
Wildflower pockets and piles of granite boulders punctuate this mellow 7.4-mile route to two alpine lakes with primo campsites.
Hike 3.8 miles through a quiet oasis of undulating hills to a 1,076-foot summit overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Bay Area. Bonus: Trailhead is less than 9 miles from city center.
This 7.3-mile loop leads to photo-worthy views of the colorful Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, then enters a highland meadow to a tranquil pond.
This 6.6-mile dayhike in Orange Country features scenic ridgelines and lush wooded canyons.
A scattering of rocky outcrops, with their big sky views, offers a surprisingly wild haven within the city limits on this 6.7-mile, figure-8 loop in Topanga State Park.
This 5-mile loop meanders along coastal bluffs and into wetlands in the heart of one of the finest birding spots in the United States.
Cross a rolling ridgeline with great views of Orange County before descending down into the beautiful sycamore-, manzanita-, maple-, and wild zucchini-filled Telegraph Canyon.
This out-and-back beach hike climbs over Point Dume to a coastline littered with tidepools. Tip: Bring snorkel gear and plenty of drinking water.
Escape gridlock on this quick and easy 5.6-mile getaway along a peaceful reservoir with eucalyptus groves and views over Orange County.
Trace the muddy flats and coastal bluffs of Upper Newport Bay and observe a long list of birds on this easygoing 5.9-mile stroll.
Meander through big oaks, sycamores, and pines on this 7-mile, out-and-back hike along a tranquil creek and up Trabuco Canyon for vistas overlooking Cleveland National Forest.
Get the best of two worlds–high ridgeline views and intimate canyon settings–on this moderate 4.8-mile trek in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Wander through old ranching claims now covered with sage scrub and oak woodlands to ridgeline views of Catalina Island and the Santa Ana Mountains on this 10.8-mile loop.
This 4-mile loop boasts canyon views among layers and layers of hills, sandstone cliffs. Look for wild zucchini, thistle, prickly pear cactus, white sage, and raptors.
Ramble 8 miles out-and-back along a chain of shimmering lakes and enjoy a refreshing midsummer swim beneath the park’s centerpiece, Lassen Peak.
This popular 6.2-mile hike loop visits two alpine lakes in the Desolation Wilderness and offers outstanding views of the bright blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
This enchanting 5.7-mile loop through 6,000-acre Briones Regional Park has it all-rolling hills, shady woods, and spectacular views of the East Bay.
Watch for black-tailed deer on this steep up-and-back 9-mile hike, which climbs through Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve to the top of 2,805-foot Black Mountain.
Explore historic sites on this 5.9-mile loop in the fascinating Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve-once California’s largest coalfield.
In 6.9 miles, this loop leads from Purisima Creek through the huckleberry-filled hills of Half Moon Bay up to a ridgeline with impressive ocean views.
This 5.9-mile hike features a cache of wild riches: loads of wildlife, peaceful grasslands, dappled forests, and a treeless ridgeline with big ocean views.
Take this lesser-known, 6-mile route to the famous Deep Creek hot springs. Go on a weekday for more seclusion.
Squeezed into the extremely rugged landscape of Dick Smith Wilderness, this 5-mile out-and-back features great streamside camping and plenty of solitude.
This 9-miler travels a shady canyon with a handful of creek crossings to lovely picnic getaways in Angeles National Forest.
Go from an active fault zone to thundering ocean spray on this classic 9.4-mile out-and-back in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Link two unnamed peaks in the rugged hills above San Pasqual-Clevenger Canyon on this challenging 4-mile, half-day hike.
This brisk 5.2-miler loops through shaded gullies to the famously photogenic foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
This 7.4-mile hike heads into the Coast Mountains and onto the spot where explorers first discovered San Francisco Bay. Look for wild cat and badger tracks along the way.
Walk 7 miles among wildflowers, oaks, towering redwoods, and rushing creeks.
Ramble 7.8 miles through woodlands of black oak, Jeffrey pine, and incense cedar.
Witness the stunning transition of forest to desert on a 10.5-mile hike that traverses the Laguna Mountains.
Hump 2,200 feet on an 8.2-mile hike to views of the Bay Area, the Pacific, and Mt. Diablo.
Beachcomb 11.6 miles up and back on this sandy fin for intimate oceanside views and sweet body-surfing spots.
Escape the city’s bustle by leaving the mainland. This 10.4-mile loop explores the crowd-free hills and beautiful gardens of Santa Catalina Island.
Escape the hot-air desert floor by bagging two breezy peaks with outstanding views on this 5.8-mile out-and-back hike.
Rock-scrambling and long-range vistas highlight this hardy 11.2-mile out-and-back up a much photographed but rarely climbed East County peak.
Welcome to the map portion of Steve Howe’s solo thru-hike of the Sierra High Route. Steve is BACKPACKER’s Rocky Mountain editor, and he started this 37-day, 280-mile route on Saturday, August 26, 2006. He’s podcasting once a day from his evening camp, and we’ll be updating this map daily with a new waypoint showing where he’s pitching his tent.
This 6.2-mile loop leads into a land of rainbows and big waterfalls among the granite faces of Yosemite Valley.
Spend a week (or more) trekking 72 miles from the Giant Forest to Mount Whitney on the High Sierra Trail.
Look for deer, bobcat, and soaring turkey vultures on this 8.8-mile ridgeline hike in Crystal Cove State Park.
Unspoiled black-sand beaches, rogue breakers, and craggy mountains form a remote backdrop to this 13.4-mile weekend adventure along the Lost Coast.
Stuck in the city? Bag two peaks on this 7.9-miler in the rugged hills and valleys of Mission Trails Regional Park, just a few miles from downtown.
Hike one of SoCal’s highest peaks on this 10.4-miler that serves up magnificent views and plenty of high-country beauty in Mt. San Jacinto State Park.
Revisit the Bay Area’s ranching past on this mellow but view-packed 6.4-miler across the tawny hillsides of Rancho San Antonio Preserve.
Play tag with the pounding surf by day and camp in misty coves by night on this 26-miler along the wildflower-swathed hillsides of the Lost Coast.
Hike 7 steep miles among wild cattle to sweeping views of the Gabilan and Diablo Mountains.
Hike a chaparral-covered slope in Cleveland National Forest to a view of Mexico. Then cool off at the falls, a series of cascades and swimming holes alongside smooth granite boulders.
Look for banana slugs and California newts on this 4.6-mile hike to scenic waterfalls.
Look for heron and sandpiper in the estuaries of Point Reyes National Seashore on this rolling 7.4-mile hike.
Roam 5.1 miles among redwoods to a promontory 2,000 feet above the larger-than-life Big Sur coast.
This 14.2-mile hike shows off LA’s flipside: rugged mountains, oak-filled valleys, and miles of quiet trail.
Hike 4.5 miles along Griffith Park’s ridge for commanding views of the Hollywood sign and downtown.
4.5 miles and 2,500 feet of elevation change yield views
of Marin County’s tallest waterfall.
HIKERTOWN to TEHACHAPI/WILLOW SPRINGS ROAD: This one isn’t for tender-footed hikers. Best saved for springtime, it’s a hot run for 37 miles across the Mojave Desert peppered with iconic Joshua trees.
LAGUNA MEADOW to CA 78: Starting on the Laguna Rim, this 25.7-mile leg passes over granite knobs with long views into the undulating desert.
WALKER PASS to KENNEDY MEADOWS: Go 48.5 miles on the Kern Plateau, a slanted wilderness that connects foxtail pine country to the crumbling granite obelisks of the Sierra foothills.
TUOLUMNE MEADOWS to SONORA PASS: This 65.8-mile section travels the remote regions of Yosemite. Our advice: Pack a good camera (the scenery is five stars), extra sunscreen (it’s the High Sierra), and water shoes (swift rivers).
KENNEDY MEADOWS to TUOLUMNE MEADOWS: The highlight reel of this 209-mile section includes three national parks, several high passes with heavenly views, two stunning wilderness areas, and not a single road. Option: Detour up Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48.
This 8.9-mile section hike gets top billing for its 100-mile Sierra views of shimmering alpine lakes, towering peaks, and hillsides bursting with wildflowers.
This 49.8-mile traverse passes through all six California life zones, from scrubby deserts of chaparral and shaggy Mojave yucca to the frosty spine of the San Jacinto Range.
Traverse the dry, but surprisingly life-filled, San Felipe Hills on this 18.9-mile trip in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Hike past bizarre volcanic formations to a campsite offering remote sunrise views of the northern Sierras on this 14.8-mile trek.
I-8 to LAGUNA MEADOWS: Explore the shady ravines of the Laguna Mountains on this 19.2-mile to a cozy meadow campsite under Jeffrey pines.
CRAB FLATS ROAD to CA 138: Hot springs. Killer views. Lonely campsites. That’s just a short hitlist of what unfurls on this 30.4-mile section across the San Bernardino Mountains.
CA 74 to I-10: This 54.3-mile segment serves up an ecological buffet, passing through all California six life zones from the scrubby desert floor to the frosty spine of the San Jacinto Range.
CA 78 to WARNER SPRINGS: Best done during the cooler days of spring and fall, this 25.8-mile stretch runs through the shrubby San Felipe Hills of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
CAJON JUNCTION to CA 2: Walk the scar of the San Andreas Fault then climb the pinyon ridges of the Mojave Desert on this 23.6-mile trek. Don’t miss Wrightwood, CA, considered the friendliest hiker town just off the PCT.
THREE POINTS to AGUA DULCE: Finish off the San Gabriel’s by dipping into steep ravines and over ridges covered in spruce on this 41.3-mile stretch that ends beneath the uplifted sandstone cliffs in Vasquez Rocks County Park.
ELIZABETH CANYON to HIKERTOWN: Much of this 26.3-mile stretch navigates the slopes of Sawmill Mountain before ending in the desert flats of Hikertown, USA. High point: Views on Leibre Mountain stretch from the Pacific to the Mojave.
LANDERS MEADOW to WALKER PASS: Begin the long ascent into the Sierras through the pinyon forests and cholla clumps of the Scodie Mountains on this 38.7-mile leg. In spring, wildflowers bring color to the arid gray-green landscape.
EBBETTS PASS to CA 88: Pass through an ancient volcanic kiln of rugged knobs and lava streams now-framed with willows, peaceful meadows, and early-summer snow fields in the Mokelumne Wilderness. This is a moderately-challenging 23.6-mile leg.
US 50 to I-80: Visit two scenic wilderness areas, swim in countless lakes, and traverse above Lake Tahoe’s rim on this 56-mile section.
QUINCY-LAPORTE ROAD to OROVILLE-QUINCY HIGHWAY: This 29.8-mile leg skirts crumbled lava flows and the churning Middle Fork Feather River, where delightful riverside pools offer ample sunbathing and swimming.
SIERRA CITY to QUINCY-LAPORTE ROAD: Hike past dozens of alpine lakes and a few notable peaks on this 31.7-mile section. Don’t pass by the Sierra Buttes without climbing to the old lookout, the views from the top are some of California’s best.
BELDEN to HUMBOLDT SUMMIT: This 22.4-mile heart-pounding section climbs 5,000 feet and crosses several lovely mountain streams.
HUMBOLDT SUMMIT to CA 36: Hit the PCT midpoint and some refreshing creekside pools in the Sierra’s last canyon on this 17.9-mile section.
CA 36 to DRAKESBAD RESORT: Pick up some steam on this 17.4-mile segment through the puffing geysers and thermal lakes of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
DRAKESBAD RESORT to OLD STATION POST OFFICE: Head into the remote corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park on this 22.4-mile section past high mountain lakes ringed with conifers and a backdrop of cinder cone volcanoes.
OLD STATION POST OFFICE to BURNEY FALLS: This 43.8-mile leg, possibly the longest waterless stretch on the PCT, follows the sweltering contours of Hat Creek Rim before ending at a 129-foot cascade. In early spring, wildflowers are top-notch on the rim.
GRIZZLY PEAK to CASTLE CRAGS: Drop into shady canyons packed with cedars, firs, and flowing creeks before grinding up Girard Ridge for long-range vistas of snowy Shasta and the wrinkled Castle Crags on this 37.2-mile section.
BURNEY FALLS to GRIZZLY PEAK: Scope a raging 129-foot waterfall to start this tough-and-dry 37.5-mile leg through rolling fir-forest basins to an isolated peak that rewards with views of Mount Shasta.
I-5 to GUMBOOT TRAILHEAD: Trek past the lofty spires of Castle Crags to the weathered ridges and lakes near the Trinity Divide on this 21.5-mile stretch. Postcard views of Mount Shasta dominate the horizon.
GUMBOOT TRAILHEAD to CA 3: High in the Trinity Alps, this 32.9-mile ridge section views the headwaters of the Trinity River and countless alpine lakes.
CA 3 to CARTER MEADOWS SUMMIT: Pass rocky lake basins and deep, glacially scoured canyons on this 18.5-mile leg across the slim ridges of the Scott Mountains.
CARTER MEADOWS SUMMIT to ETNA SUMMIT: Stick to the high crest and get bird’s-eye views over the headwaters of the Salmon, Scott, and Trinity Rivers during this 18.1-mile section through the less-explored lakes and peaks of the Russian Wilderness.
ETNA SUMMIT to SEIDAD VALLEY: Packed with craggy peaks and rugged cirques, this 51.1-mile leg through the Marble Mountains serves up endless solitude.
SEIDAD VALLEY to OREGON BORDER: Few, if any hikers, make it this far north in California, so you’ll likely have the trail to yourself. This 32.1-mile leg begins with a steep climb out of the Klamath River Valley and hugs the Siskiyou Crest passing buttes and deep ravines.
CA 2 to THREE POINTS: This 25-mile leg has a mad list of peaks. Start by climbing 2,000 feet up Mt. Baden-Powell with views unfolding to the Sierra Nevada. Then zigzag the swelling ridges of the San Gabriel Crest.
CA 138 to I-15: On this 10.5-mile stretch, climb through sandy washes and gullies around Cleghorn Ridge to overlooks of Cajon Canyon and the San Gabriel Mountains.
TEHACHAPI/WILLOW SPRINGS ROAD to LANDERS MEADOW: Climb through the Piute Mountains on this 42.5-mile stretch past dry mining claims and an expanse of sagebrush and yucca.
SONORA PASS to EBBETTS PASS: Curve between sharp ice-hewn boulders on this 27.2-mile stretch surrounded by red volcanic peaks.
CA 88 to US 50: Start at the headwaters of the Truckee River and get an early glimpse at Lake Tahoe before winding through lush canyons on this 12.5-mile section.
I-80 to SIERRA CITY: This 32-mile leg runs from ridge-to-river and offers incredible campsites. Add a wildcard to this adventure by overnighting at a backcountry hut.
Find big views and small crowds on this 18-mile loop in the Marble Mountains that tops above northern California at a secluded lakeside campsite.
OROVILLE-QUINCY HIGHWAY to BELDEN: Travel a scenic 16.3-mile rim route above alpine ponds to one California’s most isolated campsites under a canopy of red firs.
Every hiker’s life list should include the 270 miles between Mt. Whitney and Sonora Pass. It may take a month, but it’s a trivial sacrifice to make for the most unrelenting wilderness eye-candy you’ll ever feast on.
I-10 to BIG BEAR CITY: This 48.9-mile segment offers plenty of crowdfree miles through twisty canyons, past wind farms and into fragrant fir groves.
BIG BEAR CITY to CRAB FLATS ROAD: Follow the forested high ridges across the San Bernardino Mountains to creekbeds tangled in sagebrush on this 21.6-mile leg.
WARNER SPRINGS to CA 74: Horned lizards are just one of the oddly adapted desert creatures and plants you’ll see on the 35-mile leg over Bucksnort Mountain. Pack plenty of water.
SOUTHERN TERMINUS to BOULDER OAKS CAMPGROUND: From the US-Mexico border, begin this 21.2-mile leg with a traverse of Hauser Mountain’s broad slopes before descending into the lowlands near Lake Morena.
This interactive map is the next best thing to hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Check out the trail on seamless topo maps, aerial photos, or fly over the terrain by clicking on the Google Earth link.
This 9.6-mile overnight in the Russian Wilderness is pine-studded, alpine lake-riddled, and in-your-dreams beautiful.
Where do the locals go? To the lovely waterfalls, big ocean views, and hidden ruins on this 4.3-mile dayhike in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Crave big views? Get your fix on this challenging 15-mile dayhike in the San Gorgonio Wilderness and bag SoCal’s third-highest summit.
Go deep into a rugged creek basin teeming with towering trees and a charming waterfall on this 4.2-mile hike in Portola Redwoods State Park.
Want to get higher than a Hollywood star? Shoot up 5,400 feet and scrape the sky on SoCal’s tallest peak on this 13.2-miler in San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Explore a once-active seismic hotbed of sheer canyons and towering spires on this 4.5-mile loop. Bird bonus: See California condors up close.
Visit stream-fed meadows and regenerating woodlands on this 5.3-mile loop to a 1922 plane wreck in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
Find subtle beauty in the suntanned hills of Garin Regional Park as you hike this 5.9-mile loop past creeks to breezy overlooks.
On this 16.2-mile weekend, you’ll cross through a giant, glacier-carved basin with shimmering lakes and camp at first-class High Sierra campsites.
With views at every turn, this 22.8-mile, 3-day Trinity Alps route visits soaring spires of bleached granite and a basin full of shimmering lakes.
Scale rugged coastal hills to a solitary peak in the Santa Ynez Mountains on this 6.7-mile loop. Bonus: Soak in the natural hot springs.
This 4.8-mile dayhike takes you past rare plants as you climb 1,200 feet to a summit with knockout views from Mexico to the Pacific.
Seaside waterfalls, campsites, and swimming lakes earn this 10.4-mile route in Point Reyes National Seashore a 5-star rating among big-city hikes.
Take a weekend for this 21.8-miler, which features a stout 3,000-foot climb up into the foothills and mountains of the San Rafael Wilderness.
As you hike this 6.3-mile route, check out a small, Yosemite-type gorge tucked beneath the vibrantly blooming hills of Sunol Regional Wilderness.
This 9.8-miler reveals the hard-knock life of the West–an old cowboy camp with jailhouse. Also, check out the rare shrimp in seasonal pools.
Take a day or a three-day weekend for a challenging 20.2-mile climb to the roof of the Lower 48, and see why Muir called it a paradise of rock and light.
Take the Metro to this 4.8-mile loop, then soak up sunny ocean views from the foothills of Will Rogers State Park.
Ride the bus to the rugged hills of Mission Trails Park and bag the city’s high point on a 3-mile out-and-back.
This Friday, skip gridlock and take mass transit to a campsite near big redwoods, then hike to views of Monterey Bay.
Climb 4,800 feet on this classic 15.7-mile route to the top of the park’s most-iconic peak towering above the Valley floor.
A bus drops you at the start of a 10.5-mile trail leading to overlooks with world-class views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge.
The views over SoCal and the Pacific keep getting better and better during this 2,000-foot climb to the Main Divide of the Santa Ana Mountains.
A lakeside campsite awaits at the end of this 4.2-miler that passes old-growth cedars, a mining camp, and meadows splashed with wildflowers.
Jack up your heart rate on this 6.4-mile out-and-back past giant boulders to a sun-baked peak with incredible ocean-to-mountain views.
Traverse rolling coastal hills with seabird-friendly estuaries and ranching history on this 14.8-mile out-and-back in Point Reyes. See seals and whales, too.
Lasso together the Pacific Ocean, two deep canyons, and an unnamed high point on this 11.9-mile loop in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Catch killer views of Big Bear Lake and hike a short leg of the Pacific Crest Trail on this 7.8-mile out-and-back to an 8,200-foot peak.
This 12.4-mile dayhike or overnighter hits the park’s lesser-traveled northeast tip, linking cactus lands to unnamed peaks. Good navigation skills required.
Grab a quick overnight on this 8.8-miler past two lakes, where bald eagles soar the blue skies and dive for fish in Eldorado National Forest.
This 8.4-mile out-and-back gains 2,500 feet to unbeatable desert-to-ocean views over the San Jacinto Mountains.
Test your map skills on this moderate 4.7-mile hike into the woodland maze along the Ventura River in El Nido Preserve.
Earmark a long weekend for this 31-miler linking tree-shaded lowlands, old mining homesteads, waterfalls, and a beautiful alpine lake.
Loop 8.3 miles through coastal sage and eucalyptus to views of mountain-ringed beaches and the Pacific Ocean.
See where the sport of hang gliding took off on this 6.2-mile out-and-back above the city’s East Bay.
This challenging 10.4-miler climbs past lowland scrubs, a wildfire zone, and several campsites to a tall pine forest in Los Padres National Forest.
Loop under giant redwoods, by a 25-foot waterfall, and past a 125-year-old cabin on this easy-going 4.2-miler in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
This weekend trip strings together cool ravines, desert canyons, and sunset views over the Pacific Ocean.
This challenging 10.4-miler climbs past lowland scrubs, a wildfire zone, and several campsites to a tall pine forest in Los Padres National Forest.
Take a springtime ramble through the red rocks of Mojave National Preserve.
See towering forests, ocean waves, and fern-covered canyons at Redwood National and State parks
Splash through canyon waterfalls to an 1870’s ghost town in Death Valley National Park.
Thru-hike a California classic in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Hike through a wooded ravine to an overlook with expansive views of Mount Diablo on this 5.8-mile loop in Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.
Escape city crowds on this 2.9-mile hike in Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve that features massive boulders, giant oaks, and sweeping views of San Francisco.
Just minutes from downtown Pleasanton, this 5.2-mile loop treks through shaded olive groves past panoramic vistas of rolling hillsides.
Explore young redwood forests and several waterfalls along this 10.5-mile loop in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Wildlife, scenic vistas, and rugged undeveloped coastline reward hikers on this 12.1-mile lollipop loop through Point Reyes National Seashore.
This 7.2-mile snowshoe to Dewey Point tops out at one of Yosemite Valley’s most spectacular views–a panorama stretching from El Capitan to Half Dome.
Bag four peaks all over 8,000 feet along this 13.8-mile out-and-back with two short off-trail summit scrambles.
On this burly, 200-plus-mile traverse, which
crosses 33 passes and barely touches
established trails, you can find Alaska-size
scenery, complete solitude, and just
enough risk to keep things interesting.
Follow a nineteenth-century toll road to an abandoned gold mining town on this 11.5-mile out-and-back.
Dive into wild and scenic Gold Rush country on this 20-mile hike past mining relics in Tahoe National Forest.
Hike the quiet route to the iconic redwoods of Tall Trees Grove on this 16-mile out-and-back.
Tour lava beds, painted dunes, and a dormant volcano on this 12-mile hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Cruise along the San Luis Obispo Creek on this 4.1-mile out-and-back that starts in Avila Beach and passes blue herons, butterflies, and two seaside resorts.
High altitude peak bagging abounds on this 20-mile loop in the heart of Southern California. Starting from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs, CA, this 3-night backpack offers easy access to multiple 10,000+ ft peaks, alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping views.
This 11-mile loop passes open meadows and forested slopes, topping out with scenic Sierra campsite on Panther Gap.
String together two 10,000-foot peaks on this 19.4-mile loop with a mix of trail and off-trail pursuits. Enjoy fine campsites and views of Southern California too.
Ecological balance–and dozens of sweet places to hike, paddle, and camp–have been restored at California’s Channel Islands.
This 34-mile, four-day loop straddles Muir’s namesake wilderness and Kings Canyon National Park.
Bypass the weekend crowds on this 8.6-mile hike past old mining claims to a campsite near Horton Lake.
This 3-mile off-trail route leads to Slims Peak, a 7,000-foot summit with 360-degree views of the Mojave Desert and Sierra Nevada.
This 23-mile out-and-back in the Trinity Alps features pristine mountain lakes, stunning views and an easy, off-trail scramble.
This moderate 4.3-mile lollipop-loop leads to a stunning overlook above the emerald blues of Lake Tahoe. Don’t miss: The wooden lighthouse perched on a granite ledge above the lake.
This 10.6-mile out-and-back links thick lodgepole pines, stunning overlooks, and jade-colored waters reflecting the high Sierra.
This 6.4-mile loop follows trails and jeep roads to Waterman Mountain, where sweeping views of the San Gabriel Wilderness await.
Don’t worry about the crowds. This classic 8.8-mile dayhike offers plenty for all trailgoers: giant waterfalls, trailside rainbows, and arguably some of the best views in Yosemite.
A short 3-mile out-and-back full of rainbows, waterfalls, and sprawling mountainside views, this Yosemite classic isn’t called the Mist Trail for nothing.
This paved 11.4-mile out-and-back travels Lake Tahoe’s mountainous southwest shoreline to an overlook with views across Emerald Bay.
Ascend two rigorous saddles on this 6.3-mile out-and-back up to the unsung Mount Markham and panoramas of the San Gabriels and L.A. basin.
Bag one of the highest peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Discover wildflower-filled meadows, swimmable subalpine lakes, and Sierra Nevada vistas on this 9-mile out-and-back through Stanislaus National Forest’s Emigrant Wilderness.
No time for Pacific Crest thru-hiking? This 12-miler samples a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, passing mile-high peaks and desert vistas.
Let the soft light of a full moon guide your way to Yosemite’s most iconic granite peak on this 14.2-mile out-and-back.
Spy on migratory waterfowl while touring salt marshes, vernal pools, and bay tributaries on this 1.6-miler near Oakland and San Francisco.
This 10-mile trek down the East Fork of the San Gabriel River ends at the 120-foot-high Bridge to Nowhere, a popular bungee jumping destination.
Experience Tahoe scenery without Tahoe crowds on this 12-mile riverside out-and-pack path which passes under rugged crags en route to the lake shore.
Climb over the picturesque north face of Mount Wilson, the site of a historic observatory, on this 11-mile loop in L.A.’s San Gabriel Mountains.
Escape front-country crowds on a trek to the park’s idyllic interior.
Explore the ruins of historic taverns and watch clouds roll over two 8,000-foot San Gabriel peaks on this 14-mile out-and-back in the Cucumonga Wilderness.
Hidden deep inside the Santa Cruz Mountains, this 2.4-mile out-and-back wanders through old-growth forests and past meandering creeks to century-old limestone kilns.
Cruise, walk, run, blade, or skate this 5-mile out-and-back with views of world-class surfers, jagged coastline, and jaw-dropping sunsets.
An isthmus crossing and a killer climb reward with cross-channel views and a glimpse of Catalina Island’s rugged backside on this 5.4-mile loop above Two Harbors.
Walk through Death Valley National Park on this grueling, 14-day, 221-mile thru-hike of the largest national park in the contiguous United Sates.
Check out some of the oldest trees in the world–1,000 year-old sequoias–on this 4-mile loop through southern Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove.
Trek along the remote Ibex Dunes and wind through rugged washes on this 28-mile overnight near Death Valley National Park’s southern border.
Trek over dunes, sand flats, and salt pans in the shadow of the Black and Panamint ranges on this 109-mile, multi-day excursion through southern Death Valley.
Follow the secluded Marble Canyon through Joshua trees and Cottonwood Mountains to vast playas and volcanic craters on this 80-mile trek.
Climb through gaping craters and narrow canyons before bagging 11 peaks in northern Death Valley’s Last Chance Range on this 46-miler.
Traverse the Last Chance Range en route to the highest sand dunes in California and the abandoned Crater Mine on this difficult, 40-mile out-and-back in Death Valley.
This 28.7-mile weekend getaway travels from Eureka Dunes, the highest dunes in California, to Last Chance Mountain, an 8,500-foot peak in Death Valley.
Looking to tag a life-list summit without queuing up? Pass on Half Dome, and opt for the 12-mile climb to Yosemite’s unsung granite peak.
Look for banana slugs, newts, and canyon tree frogs on this 2.5-mile hike to Tangerine Falls, the largest cascade in the Santa Barbara frontcountry.
Marvel at Pacific coast views, tree-lined canyons, snowy peaks and tumbling waterfalls on this 7.5-mile highlight reel of Santa Barbara’s frontcountry.
Delve deep into the Santa Ynez Mountains on this 4.7-mile, creek-hopping, canyon traverse to rock climbing walls and a hang glider launch pad.
Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit: This 2.4-mile out-and-back leads to a multi-tiered cascade with sandstone swimming holes and views of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Cruise through oak-filled canyon country and shrubland meadows to overlooks of the Channel Islands, city lights, and the Pacific coast on this 7-mile out-and-back.
Hike or run past oak forests, vernal pools, rock climbing walls, and fields of chaparral on this 9-mile out-and-back to the Santa Ynez Ridge.
Ascend razor-thin ridgelines and scramble up sheer rock faces on this 10.7-mile loop to Strawberry Peak, one of the most challenging summits in the San Gabriel frontcountry.
Find solitude less than an hour from 20 million Angelenos on a 14-mile out-and-back peppered with fishing spots, waterfalls and rock pools.
Experience one of California’s famous coastal landscapes on a 15-mile shuttle through Point Reyes National Seashore.
Trace the Pacific coastline from a tule elk preserve to a seal-dotted bluff along this 9.7-mile out-and-back on Point Reyes National Seashore.
Climb 1,100 feet along Catalina Island’s west-end ridge on this 6.5-mile loop that cruises three west-end coves en route to an ice-cream window finish in Two Harbors.
Anacapa Island’s oceanfront overlooks, throngs of wildlife, and a picture-perfect lighthouse highlight this classic 2.5-mile loop in Channel Islands National Park.
Explore a wild shore bypassed by modern development.
See Shaky Town from a whole new perspective.
Soak in a series of refreshing swimming holes in Sequoia National Park.
Hike past massive boulders, red barrel cacti, and restless tumbleweeds to a shady oasis on this 3-mile out-and-back in Joshua Tree National Park.
This popular 1.5-mile climb leads to a panoramic view of valleys, mountains, deserts, and one really cool rock formation.
This 7.4-mile out-and-back rolls over hills dotted with spiky yuccas, ocotillos, and cactus before dropping into the lush Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.
Sample nature trails that weave through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, a bird-watching haven tucked between the Mojave and Colorado deserts.
In 2.6 miles, you’ll explore abandoned mine sites, learn about desert fauna, and scramble up Mastodon Peak for wide-open views of Joshua Tree National Park.
See sunbathing elephant seals and trotting coyotes on an easy 3-miler in Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve.
Escape to the lush green hills and pristine saltwater marshes of Bayfront Park on this 2.8-mile loop just minutes from the Bay Area suburbs.
Savor Yosemite’s icons in solitude on this 4-day exploration.
Invigorating 8+ mile hike up to one of the great East Bay Peaks.
Clocking in at 36.5 miles, this trail is a fine choice for hikers to see high desert landscapes, mind-blowing rock formations, and absolutely no one.
Climb a rugged mountain spine—and cruise wide-open bison territory—on this 5.6-mile section of the Trans Catalina Trail that joins two of the island’s best beaches.
Hike, push a stroller, or even roll a wheelchair into a mining relic from 1859. This former aqueduct above the South Yuba River offers easy access to rugged wilderness and amazing mountain views.
Explore Little Fisherman’s Cove and Two Harbors’ popular campground on this easy 1.4-miler that is a perfect escape for boat-bound island guests.
Visit a Scandinavian-inspired castle and one of Tahoe’s most beautiful beaches on this family-friendly 2.3 miler in Emerald Bay State Park.
It’s an easy 0.75-miles through the El Dorado National Forest to a sweeping view of Lake Tahoe and this hike’s payoff–perfect toe-dipping pools atop Cascade Creek Falls.
Climb the Lower 48’s highest peak on a route with all of the thrills but none of the crowds.
Don’t waste winter: Tackle this cross-country canyon trek in the Lower 48’s largest national park.
This 2.6-mile loop in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve links three park trails, sandstone bluffs, and views of undeveloped coastline.
Perched on the edge of the city, this 3.4-mile out-and-back showcases views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Bay, and the historic Sutro Baths.
Climb 1,400 feet through a shady stretch of the Angeles National Forest on this 7-mile out-and-back that rewards with summit views from 8,250-foot Mount Islip.
This easy 1.8-miler links San Fran’s west-side streets to some of its most rugged headlands and off-the-beaten-track views of the Golden Gate and Marin County.
This rolling, 7-mile hike travels through some of the largest trees on earth.
Climb the Lower 48’s highest peak on a route with all of the thrills but none of the crowds.
Play tag with the pounding surf by day and camp in misty coves by night on this 26-miler along the wildflower-swathed hillsides of the Lost Coast.
High in the Matilija Wilderness is a narrow ridge that only widens where four dry lakes are located. They catch winter rains and freeze, permafrost laying icing over scrubby chaparral. The views along this hike are incredible.
This 5.6-mile out-and-back in Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge runs across pristine sand dunes that overlook the Pacific Ocean.
Explore “California’s Serengeti” on this 14-mile out-and-back to a 4,404-foot summit high above Carrizo Plain National Monument
Hike some of the most rugged yet picturesque coastline along the Central California coast at this secluded state park in San Luis Obispo County.
This 4.6-mile trek to Grass Mountain is a steep one (2,100 feet in 1.5 miles), but the payoffs are worth it. You’ll find spectacular summit views and some of the best wildflower displays in the state.
Santa Barbara Island is the smallest island in the Channel Islands National Park. It’s the most remote and furthest offshore, roughly 45 miles. One loop trail covers the one-square-mile islet. The windswept isle is home to seals, sea lions, seabirds and the secretive island night lizard.
Warm up alongside Cat Harbor before a steep ascent—900 feet in 0.4 miles—to Ballast Point. This 3-miler loops east of Cat Harbor to a vantage point overlooking Two Harbors and a string of other islands.
This 6.2-mile round-trip links a series of beaches and coastal bluffs 15 minutes from Santa Barbara.
Explore an abandoned ranch, island fauna, cave-pocketed canyons, and a secluded beach on this 2-mile trek along southeastern edge of Santa Cruz Island.
Old cattle ranchers didn’t call this desert canyon Hellhole Canyon for nothing. They used to herd cattle up the canyon to an oasis for 3 miles. It must’ve been tough for the cattle scrambling over granite boulders, but for day hikers it’s a gem in the middle of the Colorado Desert.
Hike the western fringe of the Santa Ynez Mountains, one of the few ranges that runs east to west. Gaviota Peak overlooks the Pacific Ocean, the scenic Gaviota Coast and the Los Padres National Forest.
This out and back hike runs through one of the prettiest backcountry canyons in Santa Barbara County in the Los Padres National Forest. A steady creek runs the entire length of Fir Canyon underneath a canopy of Douglas fir, sycamore and pine trees
Hike up this narrowing canyon along a trickling creek to Darwin Falls.
Fascinating rock walls and formations make for an interesting hike up this canyon near Stovepipe Wells Village in Death Valley National Park.
Hike to the highest point in Point Reyes National Seashore on this 6.3-mile loop that visits the wooded summit of Mount Wittenberg.
Climb a 3,333-foot sandstone spire just four miles north of Santa Barbara.
Ascend 2,000 feet in 2.5 miles to tag this 10,457-foot volcano with sweeping views of Mt. Shasta and Lake Almanor.
Climb to a 5,349-foot summit in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on this 8.2-mile out-and-back.
Climb to a rocky highpoint in the San Gabriel Mountains on this 6.7-mile dayhike in Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area.
Link two trails on San Francisco Bay’s largest island on this 4.2-mile loop.
This 6.9-mile lasso loop in Rancho Seco Recreational Area traces a lake and tours golden grassland.
Link a sandy beach with towering redwood forest on this 5.7-mile lasso loop less than an hour from San Francisco.
This 17-mile out-and-back in the Trinity Alps features pristine mountain lakes, stunning views and an easy, off-trail scramble.
This 14-mile out-and-back ascends Sisar Canyon to a viewpoint overlooking the Sespe Wilderness.
This 8.8-mile out-and-back rolls over oak-dotted hills, drops to the banks of Cache Creek, then climbs to a meadow with picture-perfect views.
Just 30 minutes from Los Angeles, this 6.2-mile loop in Ed Davis Park winds through two canyons and tops out on a ridge overlooking the Santa Clarita Valley.
You’ll trace Placerita Creek, pass a natural oil seep, and visit a 15-foot waterfall on this easy-going 4.8-miler in Placerita Canyon Natural Area.
Get up close and personal with 220-foot Whiskeytown Falls on this 3.1-miler in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.
Take two weeks to hike through superlative Sierra Nevada country on a 165-mile circumnavigation of Lake Tahoe. Ranging in elevation from 6,240 feet to 10,338 feet, the TRT spans two states (California and Nevada), six counties, one state park, three National Forests, and three Wilderness areas.
Take in the iconic McWay Falls with Big Sur, a California treasure.
See the effects when two tectonic plates collide at Wallace Creek Interpretive Trail at Carizo National Plain
Hit two beautiful sandy beaches and view the rugged coastline on the is easy one mile loop hike.
Hike through one of the last natural Monterey Cypress groves that exist on the easy one mile loop hike through the Allan Memorial Cypress Grove.
Hike to great ocean views and a chance to see great coastal wildlife including Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Sea Otters.
Cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on foot on this 4.4-mile out-and-back that links Fort Point National Historic Site to the Vista Point overlook.
This family-friendy, 2.7-mile out-and-back leads to one of Point Reyes’s five backcountry campgrounds with views of the Pacific Ocean.
Escape into the Bay Area’s backcountry on this weekend excursion through the scrub-brushed hillsides and pine-dotted meadows of Henry W. Coe State Park.
On this easy 3.3-mile loop, wind through the tranquil hills of Montana de Oro State Park en route to jaw-dropping Pacific Ocean panoramas.
Climb to the highest of Central California’s Nine Sisters on this 3.5-mile out-and-back to Bishop Peak.
Climb from Yosemite Valley’s forested floor to the cloud-scraping South Rim on this 18-miler featuring trips to Taft Point, Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point.
Notch inimitable panoramas of Yosemite Valley from the soaring Glacier Point before tackling a steep descent from the South Wall on this staggeringly scenic 4.6-miler.
On this four-day trip through the Clark Range, push deep into Yosemite’s backcountry to discover a wonderland of slickrock waterfalls, pristine alpine lakes and jagged peaks.
Climb through deep lodgepole forest toward the foot of the Cathedral Range on this 4-mile out-and-back to the peaceful Elizabeth Lake.
Big on views and short on distance, this out-and-back climbs to the granite-topped Lembert Dome: sprawling panoramas of Tuolumne Meadows and the surrounding mountain country await.
On this 15-mile overnighter in Yosemite National Park, climb through wildflower-dotted meadows and whitebark pine forest en route to three remote lakes circled by towering granite peaks.
Visit some of the world’s oldest and largest trees on this peaceful stroll to Yosemite’s most remote giant sequoia grove.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll to the postcard-like May Lake before taking on the rugged ascent to the 10,850-foot Mount Hoffmann, which serves up a 360-degree display of every major peak in the park.
Wander along Yosemite’s towering South Rim for unbeatable Valley panoramas from a series of high-country, cliff-edge vantage points.
Attain deep-forest tranquility on this leisurely amble to Yosemite’s Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias, home to some of the largest living organisms on Earth.
Savor can’t-miss Yosemite panoramas from the Valley’s second-highest vantage point on this easy hike to the legendary Sentinel Dome.
Score some of the John Muir Trail’s most classic views on this 31-mile section hike in Yosemite National Park that starts less than two hours from Bishop.
Two days. Forty-two miles. More than 10,000 feet elevation gain climbing 100+ stairways. In Los Angeles? Here’s how one visionary (OK, a slightly obsessed backpacker) started a local-hikes revolution in the epicenter of urban sprawl.
Venture off SoCal’s coast for long beaches, hidden canyons, and sea life.
See the tallest waterfall in the United States up close in this short and easy loop hike in Yosemite Valley.
Walk a scary-narrow rock fin to an airy summit.
Climb without crowds to the state’s top mountain view on this 9.6-mile out-and-back in Sequoia National Park.
Overlook the battlefield where the Modoc made their last stand, and a nearby spatter cone displaying unusual frozen rock formations on this 2.6-mile out-and-back.
This easy 2-mile out-and-back visits two collapsed sections of a wide lava tube with Native American pictographs and natural bridge walls.
Walk an old homestead route that crosses sagebrush plains and passes lava flows and collapsed tubes on this 9.5-mile point-to-point trail.
This easy, 3-mile trail (out and back) visits Lassen’s largest geothermal area—a steaming basin filled with boiling mud pots, belching fumeroles, and colorful hot springs.
Follow the Big Sur River to a group of hot pools on this 19.3-mile out-and-back half an hour from Carmel.
This weeklong loop in the Cathedral Range is the epitome of Yosemite high country hikes: you’ll climb past craggy granite, listen to babbling streams, and gaze at vibrant summer wildflowers.
Visit the 100-year-old ruins of a once glamorous resort on this 5.3-mile hike to a 3,207-foot summit in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Hike cross-country through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to a pocket of dreamy lakeside camps on the John Muir Trail.
Hike through a towering redwood forest on the easy-access overnighter.
Get three classic Range of Light trips in Yosemite National Park and hike below granite-capped peaks through wildflower-dotted meadows to remote alpine lakes and pristine camping.
This bundle features a complete thru-hike in Death Valley National Park–where you’ll see more Joshua trees and traveling rocks than people–plus four section hikes across the deep washes, alluvial fans, and isolated canyons that make this park one of a kind.
Hike to a cliff-top vantage that overlooks Phantom Falls on this 7.3-mile figure-eight loop just 40 minutes from Chico.
Hike to a private lakeside retreat.
This 6.6-mile loop visits 1,211-foot Wildcat Peak before dropping down the Conlon Trail to Wildcat Creek.
Scramble across the trailless desert in Joshua Tree's wild northeast corner to inner Basin Pass. BY EMELIE FROJEN
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