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California's 60 Best Day Hikes

05.24.18

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California's 60 Best Day Hikes
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  • Stout Tree in Stout Memorial Grove.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The mile-long Fern Canyon Trail crosses Home Creek on a series of footbridges within the canyon corridor.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Mount Shasta (14,179 ft) from Castle Crags Dome.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The hike up Lassen Peak has great views of the surrounding park.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The lowest cascade of Canyon Creek Falls.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Scrambling above Canyon Creek Lakes.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Ravine Falls in the spring.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Little Phantom Falls (right) and Phantom Falls (left).- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Sonoma Coast's Kortum Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The Chimney Rock Trail traverses a narrow peninsula with Drake's Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Palomarin to Alamere Falls.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Traversing the west-facing slopes of Mount Tamalpais, the Coastal Trail is not to be missed. - California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Coastal Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The Cypress Grove Trail in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The Bluff Trail follows the bluff tops above Andrew Molera State Beach.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Looking north along the Big Sur coast from the Kirk Creek Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The view downstream from Feather Falls.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Flume 28 along the Independence Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The fire lookout on Sierra Buttes.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The fire lookout on Sierra Buttes.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Views of Donner Peak and Donner Lake from Mount Judah.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Views south along the Rubicon Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Lake Tahoe is an impressive sight from Mount Tallac's summit.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The giant sequoias of North Grove.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Half Dome standing watch over Tenaya Canyon and Mirror Lake.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Top of the cables on Half Dome's summit.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Cathedral Peak reflecting on Upper Cathedral Lake.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The Mist Trail below Nevada Falls.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • South Fork Kings River on the Kanawyer Loop Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The massive granite Watchtower overlooks the falls and the upper valley.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Crescent Meadow.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View of Mineral King Valley from the Monarch Lake/Sawtooth Pass Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View over Lower Monarch Lake and Upper Monarch Lake from the Sawtooth Pass Trail. - California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • A couple enjoys a peaceful morning at the often crowed South Tufa Area.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • South Tufa Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Views from the Mammoth Crest Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Mammoth Crest Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Lake Sabrina Loop Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Hiking above Second Lake along Big Pine Creek North Fork.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Looking west from Trail Crest on Mount Whitney toward Mount Hitchcock ( 13,184 ft).- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Views from Mount Whitney.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Santa Barbara's Inspiration Point.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View of downtown Los Angeles and the Griffith Observatory from the Charlie Turner Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View of Goat Buttes and the Malibu Creek drainage from the Chaparral Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Panoramic views nearing the highest point in the San Gabriel Mountains.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View of Mount San Antonio summit from the Ontario Peak Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Bridge to Nowhere Trail, East Fork San Gabriel River.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • A view of the Bridge to Nowhere.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Valley view from Marion Mountain Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Stone hut just below the summit of Mount San Jacinto.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View southwest to Big Bear Lake from the summit of Bertha Peak (8,201 ft).- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View south to Snow Summit Ski Resort and San Gorgonio Mountain (11,502 ft) from the summit of Bertha Peak.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris) along the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Fortynine Palms Oasis in the Fortynine Palms Canyon.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Sunset view across the valley of Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • The Skull Rock Nature Trail continues across the road.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • An iconic Joshua tree along the Skull Rock Nature Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the 16th-century explorer the monument was named after. - California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Cabrillo National Monument.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Whale Overlook, Cabrillo National Monument.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • Old Point Loma Lighthouse, Cabrillo National Monument.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View of the cliffs from Razor Point Trail, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
  • View north toward Escondido from the Potato Chip Rock Trail.- California's 60 Best Day Hikes
Article
Team

Sometimes there's just no substitute for the therapy gained from a nature walk. Whether it be a jaunt through the woods, a day out in the mountains or a morning stroll along the coast, getting out for a hike leads to a range of benefits that supports a healthy mind, body and soul. While there is a nearly endless list of great hiking destinations throughout the country, perhaps no land mass holds a broader diversity of day hikes in terms of terrain types, ecology and climate variety than the state of California. From the ancient coast redwoods of the north to the Big Sur coastline, from Lake Tahoe to the Eastern Sierra, and from Joshua Tree National Park to the coastal chaparral covered mountains of Southern California, the diversity of hiking zones in the golden state runs deep.

The list below is a compilation of what we consider some of the best day hikes in California, broken down by region. To qualify these hikes we asked ourselves the following two questions:

  • "If we had to pick a handful, what day hikes in each region would we undoubtedly recommend to friends visiting from out of town?"
  • "Despite their popularity, what day hikes exemplify the unique qualities of this region?"

The majority of the listed hikes below can be done in a half day or less. There are, however, a few excursions included that are serious full-day endeavors due to length and/or elevation gain. 

Please make sure to let us know which are your favorite California day hikes in the Comments section below. Happy Trails!
 

North Coast

  1. Stout Memorial Grove
  2. Fern Canyon
  3. Kortum Trail
  4. Table Rock
  5. Chimney Rock
  6. Palomarin Hike to Alamere Falls
  7. Coastal Trail, Pantoll to Ridgecrest Blvd
  8. Steep Ravine to Dipsea Trail Loop

Central Coast 

  1. Lands End Coastal Trail
  2. Cypress Grove Trail
  3. Bench Trail to High Peaks Loop
  4. Headlands to Creamery Meadow Loop
  5. Kirk Creek/Vicente Flat Trail
  6. Bluff Trail Hike

South Coast

  1. Inspiration Point
  2. Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Hike
  3. Temescal Ridge Trail Hike
  4. Chaparral Trail Loop Hike
  5. Mount Hollywood Hike
  6. Cabrillo National Monument
  7. Torrey Pine State Natural reserve
  8. Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  9. Silvercrest Trail
  10. Iron Mountain

California Cascades + Trinity Alps

  1. Black Butte
  2. McCloud River Hike
  3. Castle Crags Dome Hike
  4. Lassen Peak
  5. Canyon Creek Lakes
  6. Ravine + Phantom Falls

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra

  1. Feather Falls
  2. Independence Trail
  3. Sierra Buttes
  4. Mount Judah Loop
  5. Mount Tallac
  6. Rubicon Trail
  7. North Grove Trail

Yosemite, Kings Canyon + Sequoia National Parks

  1. Four Mile Trail
  2. Half Dome via John Muir Trail
  3. Cathedral Lakes Trail
  4. Nevada Falls via Giant Staircase Loop
  5. Kanawyer Loop Trail
  6. Tokopah Valley Trail
  7. Cresent Meadow
  8. Monarch Lakes

Eastern Sierra

  1. South Tufa to Navy Beach
  2. Mammoth Crest Trail
  3. Lake Sabrina Loop
  4. Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail
  5. Mount Whitney, Whitney Portal

Southern California Mountains + Desert

  1. Mount Baldy Summit
  2. Bridge to Nowhere/East Fork San Gabriel River
  3. Cucamonga Peak
  4. Icehouse Saddle via Chapman Trail
  5. Mount Islip Loop Trail
  6. Mount San Jancinto via Marion Mountain Trail
  7. Round Valley Loop
  8. Bertha Peak Hike
  9. Fortynine Palms Oasis
  10. Skull Rock Nature Trail

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