Best Hiking Trails in Southern California

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CaliforniaThe mountains of Southern California are home to some truly spectacular trails that are perfect for hiking. For those who are stuck working in big cities like Los Angeles, it can be surprising just how remote some of these trails can make you feel. Some of the wonderful things you can spot on these trails are grottos filled with giant boulders, waterfalls and even a sulfur spring.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (pictured above) is the largest desert state park in the United States. It is located west of San Diego. Hiking trails lead to waterfalls and slot canyons while a variety of wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep and the desert kit fox reside in this environment.

The Grotto

The Grotto is an excellent trail located near Malibu. The hike begins at Circle X Ranch and is a short 3 1/2 miles round-trip. The trail for the Grotto descends into a rock canyon, leading to a floor composed of giant boulders that sit on the cavern floor. If you look down beneath the rocks you will find a pool created from a stream that runs below. The trail itself can be steep as you make both your ascent and descent, and so good boots with ankle support are best for this type of trail.

Sycamore Canyon Falls

Sycamore Canyon Falls is a hike through the Santa Monica Mountains which leads you through a meadow, past a windmill and down into a canyon which eventually leads to a waterfall. The waterfall is actually a half dozen separate waterfalls which flow down the canyon wall into little pools. The best time to do this particular trail is after a recent rainfall, since this is when you'll actually get to see the waterfalls in action. The trailhead leading to the waterfalls can be found by the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center and begins at the Western edge of the Satwiwa loop trail.

Cheeseboro Canyon Trail to Sulfur Spring

The Cheeseboro Canyon trail begins on Cheeseboro Canyon road. Follow the trail to Sulfur Spring trail. Cheeseboro Canyon Trail will take you through meadows and groves of oak and sycamore trees. The hike is an excellent year-round hike since much of it is paved. It is a trail popular for hikers, those on bikes and even those on horseback. A good time of year to do the hike is around November when the leaves begin to change color. Along the trail you'll find some excellent picnic areas. Once you arrive at the trailhead for Sulfur Springs, it's just a short (roughly 75 yard) walk to the spring.

Big Santa Anita Canyon

The Big Santa Anita Canyon Trail descends through Santa Anita Canyon. It is 7 miles round-trip and includes an elevation change of 1800 feet. The trail head can be found on the north side of Chantry Flat and follows the Santa Anita Creek up to Sturtevant Falls. The waterfalls drop 50 feet to a pool below, and lush fauna will surround you. The trail itself is not maintained very well, so good hiking shoes are recommended.

Article Written By Shiromi Nassreen

Shiromi Nassreen has been writing professionally since 2005. She specializes in travel and outdoor topics, and her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "DISfunkshion Magazine" and Matador Travel. Nassreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies from Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama.

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