California Hiking Trails

Santa Lucia Mountains Big Sur CaliforniaCalifornia has some of the best hiking trails in North America. The Golden State features a wide variety of beautiful locations, including many scenic byways, national parks, forests and large mountain ranges. In fact, California offers some of the world's last untouched areas of wilderness. On a hiking trip in California, you can enjoy breathtaking views and see an amazing array of wildlife.


California is a massive state, and it has almost every type of climate within its borders. Northern California has large dense forests, mountains and areas with subarctic climates. Central, coastal and southern California have a mix of arid and Mediterranean climates. California's Shasta Cascade region has hiking trails amidst lava beds, volcanoes and waterfalls. The north coast is home to the ancient redwood forests while the central coast has the Santa Lucia Mountains and the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. The high sierra region has trails that run along ancient lakes and through gold-mining ghost towns. The desert region is filled with mountains, caverns, canyons and the infamous Death Valley.


Some of the best hiking trails are located in California's many state and national parks. These national parks and reserves are funded and maintained for public enjoyment. Plus, most national parks offer free or reasonable entrance fees. Popular national park hiking trails include the Four Mile Trail at Yosemite National Park and the White Chief Trail at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Some of the old historic locations are also great hiking destinations. They offer adventure and a slice of history.


The Lassen Volcanic National Park has the Pacific Crest Trail, which moves through four types of volcanoes and numerous hot springs, mud pits, sulfurous vents and fumaroles. The Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve is one of the world's oldest forests, and its trails move through the entire 500-acre forest. Pinnacles National Monument in central California has trails that wind through large 1,200-foot rock formations that have caves and remnants of ancient volcanoes.


Adventure seekers can visit deep trails that require camping and multiple nights in the wilderness such as the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern California. Day trails are available for families or novice hikers interested in a 3- to 5-hour journey. Most of the state parks have easy hiking trails, including Sonoma Coast State Park. Advanced hikers who want a challenge can try to tackle the many rocky and mountainous regions of California such as the Telescope Peak Trail at Death Valley National Park.


Always pack basic camping and hiking gear when exploring trails. Do not wander off trail paths without navigation equipment. Getting lost is very easy in many of these 500-plus acre parks. Also, be careful of dangerous and poisonous animals and insects while hiking. California is home to many different species of snakes and large predators like bears and mountain lions.

Article Written By Kori Ellis

K. Ellis has traveled extensively throughout the United States. She has spent considerable time hiking, camping and fishing throughout New Mexico, Arizona, California and several other states. From rugged hikes down the Grand Canyon to scenic strolls through the Jemez Mountains, she has experienced it all.

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