In the Forest
Big cities and sparkling coastline are not all that the Golden State has to offer. Escape into the forested mountains to enjoy California hiking at its finest. With looming trees, a variety of plant life and plenty of wild animals, every step will reveal something new.
Northern: The Ben Johnson Trail, Muir Woods
Towering redwoods can be seen as you hike through a grassy ridge and down to Redwood Canyon. "It has hilly ascents, descents, ocean views, dense forest and a stream all packed into one grand loop," says Tracy Dunham, author of several trail guidebooks. While the main loop is often crowded, this one offers an opportunity to explore a secluded portion of this popular tourist destination, with options to trek the Dipsea Trail, as well.
Central: Pfeiffer Falls Trail, Big Sur
This 2-mile loop is perfect for adventurous families looking to try something a little more strenuous. Giant redwoods and vast canyon views make this spectacular hike worth every step. Head to the Valley View Overlook to catch a glimpse of the ocean, and be sure to stop at the Pfeiffer Falls on your way back down.
Southern: Seeley Creek Trail, Crestline
This charming wooded hike is a quick 2-mile loop, with wildflowers, trickling creeks and cascading waterfalls. Bring bathing suits, because the pools below the falls are perfect for a dip after your long climb. Keep your eyes peeled for Heart Rock, a cliff with a heart shaped hole located next to the falls.
More: Bear Safety Tips
The Big Ones
Hiking in California's state and national parks is a dream for many outdoor enthusiasts. With sky-high peaks, cavernous canyons and unique wildlife, you won't be disappointed. Choose a trail and see what these rugged outdoor playgrounds have to offer.
Northern: The Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park
Enjoy 7 miles of pure scenic bliss on this unique trail. "While many of Yosemite's trails are popular due to having a single spectacular destination, the Mist Trail has fabulous views scattered all along it,"according to YostemisteHikes.com. With two waterfalls, views of the Half Dome and stunning overlooks, you'll see all the best parts of Yosemite.
Central: Ladybug Trail, Sequoia National Park
This 6-mile loop is just off the beaten path, providing a more private experience in the majestic Sequoia National Park. Look for wildflowers, rolling hills and rocky pinnacles as you trek through the diverse trail. But that's not all, waterfalls, fishing and swimming make this a perfect hiking day trip for the whole family.
Southern: Marshall Peak Trail, San Bernardino Mountains
The winding trail of Marshall Peak provides stunning views of the both the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains to the East. Steep ridges and dramatic summit overlooks make this strenuous California hike worth the climb. At just over 3 miles, you can take adventurous children, as well.
Find a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.