Best Hikes in California | Hiking Travel Guide


Best Hikes in California

California isn’t just about LA and Hollywood; it’s a beautiful state that is rich in both natural beauty and culture. Because of its size, it has an overwhelming number of hikes (similar to Utah) both in national parks and state parks. All of the hikes below are day hikes but since a few of them are located in national parks, you can easily turn them into multi-day trips. Here are the best hikes in California according to both local Californians and expert non-local travelers!

Sunrise Lakes Trail – Yosemite National Park is so well known, and if you visit the valley mid-summer, quite overcrowded. But there are many parts to Yosemite that are a little off the beaten path and therefore a little more secluded. Our most recent find? The Sunrise Lakes Trail. It’s the hike up to the Sunrise High Sierra Camp on the east side of the park. At the end of a fairly uphill hike, you’ll be greeted with a wide open flat area perfect for lunch with a scenic view of Half Dome and little Yosemite Valley. It’s so stunning, you won’t want to leave! 9.4 miles round trip hike *Luci’s Morsels*

best hikes in California

Yosemite Mist Trail – The Mist Trail is one of Yosemite’s signature hikes, and it’s easy to see why – there are spectacular views along the way, and you get the unique experience of hiking up close to two large waterfalls. There are three options for experiencing the Mist Trail, to suit all hiking abilities. The first (and easiest) part of the trail leads you to the Vernal Falls footbridge (about 0.8 miles in), which offers a beautiful view and photo op of the falls. From here, I highly recommend you keep going, which will lead you to the best and most unique part of the trail – you will climb up 600 granite steps that are carved into the falls, to bring you to the top of Vernal Falls. Prepared to be sprayed by the falls – this is where the name “Mist Trail” comes from.

From here, you get a spectacular view view of the falls themselves, and also the Yosemite Valley. Most people turn back from there, but if you choose to keep going (I highly recommend it if you have the stamina!), the next part of the trail will bring you to the top of Nevada Falls. This part of the trail is pretty strenuous – you will climb up a series of very steep switchbacks, and if you come in the summer, there is no shade. However, the views that await you at the top will be well worth it – being on top of the falls and hearing the roar of the water gushing down is an experience like no other. Whatever part of the trail you do, the Mist Hike is definitely a must-do for any visit to Yosemite! *Caroekg*

best hikes in California

Glacier Point Hike – Yosemite National Park in the United States is truly an amazing park to visit and explore. If you have time to do any of the short to longer hikes then you will have a wonderful experience seeing all the details and hidden views that you wouldn’t get by just taking the shuttles around the park. One of the most spectacular and also challenging hikes to do with an amazing end of the hike is the one to Glacier Point. Starting at the bottom of the canyon you slowly climb uphill to Glacier Point for over 9.6 miles or 15.5 Km to the top and back. You’ll traverse over many switchbacks with stunning views of the canyon and popular attractions including the Arches, Half Dome, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls, Sentinel Falls and many other amazing vistas over the park. You also have the option to catch a shuttle from the bottom or the top of Glacier Point to cut some time from your hike to enjoy more areas worth exploring at the top of Glacier Point. *Travel Photo Discovery*

best hikes in California

General Sherman Hike – All hiking trails are not the same – one of my favorite hikes, or leisurely walks, is in Sequoia National Park to explore General Sherman. General Sherman is the world’s largest tree by volume. What does that mean? Well you can take a hike through the Giant Forest and see a tree that stands 275 tall. Even though the top of General Sherman is dead, it is still growing its width each year. How cool is that? After exploring the loop around General Sherman, you can venture off to more strenuous hikes or continue to hike the Big Trees Trail which is a 2/3rd mile loop exploring some of the impressive Sequoias in the forest. Hike Level: Beginner and accessible *Plaid Shirt Yoga Pants*

best hikes in California

Lost Palms Oasis Hike – If you’re visiting Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, add the Lost Palms Oasis trail to your hiking list. The 7 mile round trip hike is a moderate difficulty level as there are some rolling hills. It’s a peaceful walk through the desert lands with plenty of plants and wildlife to observe. One of the fun parts of the hike is to stroll through a slot canyon. (Do not attempt if it’s raining!) Once you’ve reached the end of the trail, you finally see an oasis of palm trees. The trees are not close to the trail so scrambling is required to get closer to them. Otherwise, you can observe the trees from the trail. *Life Of Doing*

best hikes in California

Bridge to Nowhere Hike – Next time you’re in southern California and want an adventure, take a trek to the Bridge to Nowhere. Located north of Azusa, CA, the Bridge to Nowhere was meant to connect the San Gabriel Valley with Wrightwood. Sadly, a major flood in 1938 washed out the road on either side of the bridge, causing the building project to be abandoned. Today this gorgeous arch bridge can be visited on foot by hiking 10 miles through shaded river pools, stark desert scenes and rocky canyons. Once you arrive you’ll see the San Gabriel River flowing far below. If you’re feeling brave you can bungee jump off the bridge, or just hike to the bottom for a dip in the cool water. *Indoorsy Camper*

best hikes in California

Burbank Peak Trail – Griffith Park is an excellent place for hiking in Los Angeles with a lot of trails, some more popular than others. Few of the hikes offer a quite challenging workout, while others reward the hikers with breathtaking views. The most iconic of all might be the 3-mile-long Burbank Peak Trail that continues as the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail leading you over the top of Cahuenga Peak. It’s the highest summit in Griffith Park.

The extra special part of this hike along the beautiful mountain views is passing by the Hollywood Sign at the top of Mount Lee. What a feeling it is to see Los Angeles from above standing right next to the most iconic symbol of this city. And since you’re in LA where everyone is creative and fun, how about bringing a dress in your backpack to throw over your hiking clothes for a ‘diva-like’ photo with the sign? It’s Hollywood after all! *The Travel Leaf*

best hikes in California



A travel photographer and writer with an insatiable desire to explore the world and inspire others to see it for themselves.

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