Best Hiking in California

This list represents the most popular hiking in California. Use this list to plan your next California hiking trip. Select a state and/or activity below to find even more top trails.

Learn more about Top Trails

#1. Half Dome


Half Dome is the symbol of Yosemite; its summit the goal of just about everybody who has ever donned a pair of hiking boots. It is a grueling workout, especially if you do it in one day, but if you sp…
From the guidebook "Hiking Yosemite National Park"
Yosemite, CA - Backpacking, Hiking - 16 miles Top Trail in North America - Click to view allBest Trail in ca - Click to view allBestBackpacking, Hiking Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#2. Deep Creek


A cluster of natural hot springs in an isolated canyon in the high desert. Deep Creek has become a favorite spot for those who like to go without clothing. Requires a gradual 6-mile hike or a steeper…
From the guidebook "Touring California and Nevada Hot Springs"
Hesperia, CA - Hiking, Scenic Drives - 12 miles Top Trail in North America - Click to view allBest Trail in ca - Click to view allBestHiking, Scenic Drives Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#3. Mount Whitney


This expedition takes you to the top of the highest peak in the contiguous United States, and to unparalleled views.…
From the guidebook "Hiking Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks"
Lone Pine, CA - Backpacking, Hiking - 22 miles Top Trail in North America - Click to view allBest Trail in ca - Click to view allBestBackpacking, Hiking Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#4. Holy Jim Trail


The hike into Holy Jim Canyon is one of the most scenic and interesting in the Santa Ana Mountains. The hike passes under a multitude of trees and crosses Holy Jim Creek many times before eventu…
From the guidebook "Best Easy Day Hikes: Orange County"
Corona, CA - Hiking, Mountain Biking - 2.7 miles Top Trail in North America - Click to view allBest Trail in ca - Click to view allBestHiking, Mountain Biking Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#5. Big Santa Anita Loop (Mt. Zion Loop) (Backpacking)


In the lush and shady recesses of the Front Range of the San Gabriel Mountains you can easily lose all sight and sense of the hundreds of square miles of dense metropolis, and the millions of Angeleno…
From the guidebook "Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State"
Arcadia, CA - Backpacking, Hiking - 9.4 miles Best Trail in ca - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Wilderness Press

#6. Canyon Creek Lakes and L Lake (Backpacking)


A hiking companion posed this question on a recent trip, “What if you could hike only in one mountain range for the rest of your life, which would it be?” After careful thought, I firmly responded, “T…
From the guidebook "Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State"
Weaverville, CA - Backpacking, Hiking - 16.5 miles Best Trail in ca - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Wilderness Press

#7. Cowles Mountain


Touted as one of the largest urban parks in the country, Mission Trails Regional Park, in San Diego’s San Carlos district, preserves some of the last remaining open space close to the heart of this sp…
From the guidebook "101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert"
La Mesa, CA - Hiking - 2.8 miles Best Trail in ca - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Wilderness Press

#8. Mission Trails Regional Park: Combined Trails Loop


This nature lovers’ mecca in the middle of suburbia is a favorite of hikers, cyclists, and dog walkers.…
From the guidebook "60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Diego"
La Mesa, CA - Hiking - 4.2 miles Best Trail in ca - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#9. Blue Ridge - Fiske Peak Trail


If any entirely uphill hike can be enjoyed, it’s this one. Your hike begins at the white gate on CR 40, where you’ll see a notification that the bridge is out (it isn’t), along with several other impo…
From the guidebook "60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Sacramento"
Sacramento, CA - Hiking - 8.6 miles Best Trail in ca - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#10. Sykes Hot Spring


General description: A cluster of natural hot spring pools at a popular backpacking campground in the forested coast range of California. Only accessible by foot on a 10-mile trail, this spring is pop…
From the guidebook "Touring California and Nevada Hot Springs"
Monterey, CA - Hiking - 20 miles BestHiking Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#11. Santa Anita Canyon Loop


In the lush, shady recesses of Santa Anita Canyon and its tributary, Winter Creek, you can easily lose all sight and sense of the hundreds of square miles of dense metropolis and the millions of peopl…
From the guidebook "101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert"
Sierra Madre, CA - Hiking - 9 miles Best Trail in ca - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Wilderness Press

#12. The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County


One of the wonders of the Gold Country, this remarkable cave on Coyote Creek cuts clear through a limestone ridge, permitting people to swim or wade through the heart of the hillside. Even if you don’…
From the guidebook "Hiking The Sierra Nevada"
Angels Camp, CA - Hiking - 2 miles Best Trail in ca - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#13. San Gorgonio Mountain


This memorable trip is perhaps the finest backpack route in southern California, touring the region’s most scenic high-mountain landscape. Glacial cirques, virgin forests, windswept alpine ridges, two…
From the guidebook "Hiking Southern California"
Big Bear Lake, CA - Backpacking, Hiking - 21.3 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#14. Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake (Backpacking)


With only moderate effort this trail places you among peaks of the spectacular Ritter Range—capped by Mt. Ritter, Banner Peak, and the Minarets—in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Some say that the alpine…
From the guidebook "Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State"
Mammoth Lakes, CA - Backpacking, Hiking - 14 miles
Published by Wilderness Press

#15. Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve: Botanical Loop


This well-maintained trail offers a quiet, easy loop that makes it perfect for any age. The “Botanical Trail Guide” published by reserve staff lends an educational element that makes this foray into n…
From the guidebook "60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Diego"
Escondido, CA - Hiking - 1.5 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#16. Bishop Peak Trail


Bishop Peak, an ancient volcanic mountain, is the signature backdrop for the city of San Luis Obispo. The peak, which stands at 1559 feet, has three distinctive peaks and is the highest in the chain o…
From the guidebook "Day Hikes in San Luis Obispo County, California"
San Luis Obispo, CA - Hiking - 4.5 miles
Published by Day Hike Books

#17. Donner Canyon to the Falls Trail


Mount Diablo has a forbidding image to many, in part because of its name and the legends it has inspired. While creeks may dry in summer, the reality is that there are always cool canyons, and even on…
From the guidebook "Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area"
Clayton, CA - Hiking - 5.9 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#18. Aspen Grove


In October each year, the leaves of quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides) turn bright yellow for a few short weeks and then drop from the trees. Aspen Grove is one of only two places in California outs…
From the guidebook "101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert"
Big Bear, CA - Hiking - 1.8 miles
Published by Wilderness Press

#19. Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake (Backpacking)


Your destination, Thousand Island Lake, is one of the Sierra’s great beauty spots, a huge—by Sierra standards—sheet of sky-blue water dotted picturesquely with granite islands and situated at the foot…
From the guidebook "Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State"
Mammoth Lakes, CA - Backpacking, Hiking - 17.6 miles
Published by Wilderness Press

#20. Beach Trail / Broken Hill Trail Loop


This hike will take you to the very brink of the Pacific, passing through scattered Torrey pines (one of earth’s rarest species of trees), and past two magnificent viewpoints on the 350-foot sandstone…
From the guidebook "Best Easy Day Hikes: San Diego"
Del Mar, CA - Hiking - 3.25 miles
Published by Falcon Guides