Best California Hiking Trails

California has 88 hikes.

  October 11, 2018

Located in the US, the hiking in California offers over thirty trail routes from which to choose. The best California hiking based on popularity are considered to be Pacific Crest Trail, Malibu Creek State Park, Mount Whitney Trail, Point Mugu State Park, and Western States Trail. For a detailed trail description and printable trailhead map, just select a California hiking trail below.

Where Can I Hike In California?

Angel Island State Park
Annadel State Park
Ballon Dome
Bidwell Park
Big Basin State Park
Big Laguna Trail
Bishop Pass/John Muir/ Piute Pass Loop
Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail
Black Cone Trail
Boggs Mountain State Forest
Carter Meadows / Trail Creek Loop
Castle Rock State Park
China Springs Trail
Chino Hills State Park
Coastal Trail
Cottonwood - Marble Canyon Loop
Cuyamaca State Park
Daley Ranch
Damnation Creek Trail
Dipsea Trail
Ellis Peak / Ellis Lake
Empire Mine State Park
Estero Trail
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Foothills Divide
Forks Blue-Ridge-Sawyers Bar Loop
Gaviota State Park
Gibraltar / Redrock Loop
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Grouse Ridge Trail
Hare Creek Trail
Hartley Springs Trail
Henry Coe State Park
High Sierra Trail
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Jackson State Forest
James Irvine Trail
John Muir Trail
King Crest Trail
Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
Lakes Trail / Pear Lake Trail
Little Bald Hills Trail
Loon Lake South Shore Trail
Lost Coast Trail
Lost Man Creek / Holter Ridge Trail
Lost Palm Oasis Trail
Malibu Creek State Park
Merced River Trail
Middle Ridge Loop Trail
Mill Creek Trail
Moraines and Meadows Loop Trail
Morro Bay State Park
Mount Dana Trail
Mount Lassen Trail
Mount Lola Trail
Mount St. Helena Trail
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Mount Whitney Trail
New Army Pass Trail
Noble Canyon Loop
North Hills Trail
Ortega Trail
Owl Creek Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
Panorama Mountain
Pine Ridge / Sykes Hot Springs Trail
Pine Valley / Carmel River Trail
Pioneer Trail
Point Mugu State Park
Romero Canyon Trail
Salmon Falls Trail
San Juan Trail
Sand Ridge Lake Trail
Santa Monica National Recreation Area
Santiago Peak / Maple Springs
Skyline Park
Skyline Trail
South Yuba River Trail
Strawberry Creek Trail
Strawberry Peak Loop Trail
Summit Trail
Tenaya Lake To Clouds Rest
Topanga State Park
Trabuco Canyon - West Horse Thief Trails
Trans-Catalina Trail
Western States Trail
Whittemore Gulch Trail
Yahi Trail


California Hiking Resources


Whittemore Gulch Trail

Southeast of Half Moon Bay in the Purisima Creek Redwoods, the Whittemore Gulch Trail is a scenic hiking-only route through redwood forest. It is located out of town off Skyline Boulevard and passes through like redwoods.  MORE INFO

Lost Palm Oasis Trail

Northeast of Palm Springs, the Lost Palm Oasis Trail is an 8 mile round-trip route to a remote canyon full of palm trees. It can be quite hot here, so make sure to watch the temperature. The hike begins at Cottonwood Spring, close to the visitor center, which is about 6 miles inside the southern park boundary. The spring produces water all year round.  MORE INFO

Skyline Trail

East of downtown Los Angeles near Whittier, the 25 mile Skyline Trail travels through three endangered plant communities. The wildflowers are abundant in the winter and spring. This area and the 970 acres to the southwest are owned by Rose Hills Foundation and the City of Whittier and a wildlife corridor joint agency of powers are trying to purchase it for a wildlife reserve and corridor. The trail descends into the canyon through an oak woodland and coastal sage scrub mix.  MORE INFO

Mount Dana Trail

The Mt Dana Trail is a 6 mile round trip hike to the namesake peak at 13,000 feet from Tioga Pass. The summit offers amazing vistas of the High Sierra Crest and Mono Lake.  MORE INFO

Annadel State Park

East of Santa Rosa in the Sonoma Valley, the 5,000 acre Annadel State Park has miles of meandering hiking trails dirt roads shared with mountain bikers and horseback riders. The trails are well signed and pass through open meadows and oak/fir forests. As Annies Dell used to be an old quarry, the routes can be quite rocky.  MORE INFO

King Crest Trail

South of Eureka and Honeyew in the King Range National Conservation Area, the King Crest Trail is a 9.9 mile hiking route from Saddle Mountain Trailhead in the south to North Slide Peak Trailhead in the north. This is a challenging route with over 4,000 feet of climbing while passing through forest, burn areas and chaparral. There are nice vistas from several summits.  MORE INFO

Lost Coast Trail

South of Eureka and Honeyew in the King Range National Conservation Area, the Lost Coast Trail is a 25 mile route from Mattole in the north to Black Sands Beach in the south. This is a very popular route and can be quite crowded on the weekends. This is the most popular King Range hike offers one of the few coastal wilderness hiking experiences in the US.  MORE INFO

Romero Canyon Trail

Southeast of Santa Barbara in the Los Padres National Forest, the Romero Canyon Trail is a rocky scramble up an old narrowing fire road into the Santa Ynez mountains. Its a five mile switchback ascent over 2,000 feet to the crest by unparalleled ocean vistas towards the Channel Islands through Chapparel.  MORE INFO

Loon Lake South Shore Trail

West of South Tahoe, the Loon Lake South Shore Trail is a 6 mile hiking route. Also known as the Rubicon Hiking Trail, this is a very scenic and very remote lake. The trail is shared with bikers and horseback riders.  MORE INFO

South Yuba River Trail

Northeast of Nevada City in the Tahoe National Forest, the South Yuba Trail is a 13 mile stretch of pristine hiking trail. This rolling trail is mildly technical bordering above the Yuba River on a cliff with lots of swimming holes and skinny dippers. It is shared with mountain bikers and horseback riders.  MORE INFO

Mount Lola Trail

Northwest of Truckee in the Tahoe National Forest, the Mt Lola Trail is a 9.5 mile one-way hiking route. The elevation ranges from 6,600 feet to 9,100 feet. The trail heads south to Mount Lola, and continues beyond to connect with a variety of other routes.  MORE INFO

Morro Bay State Park

West of San Luis Obispo, the Morro Bay State Park has a wide range of easy hiking trails to explore. The three more popular hikes within the park are the Quarry Trail, the Park Ridge Trail and the Live Oak Trail. If you are looking for some challenge, try the rocky scramble up the faint trail to the Cabrillo Peak (911 feet).  MORE INFO

Hare Creek Trail

South of Carmel and Lucia, the Hare Creek Trail is a 4.2 mile route trip route with about 500 feet of climbing. The Hare Creek Trail starts from the entrance kiosk and proceeds east up Hare Canyon through redwood forest.  MORE INFO

Big Laguna Trail

East of San Diego and El Cajon in the scenic Laguna Mountains, the Big Laguna Trail is a 4 mile one-way route. The Big Laguna Trail offers a pleasant hike through mountain meadows dotted with pines and large boulders where you can take in the view of Big Laguna Lake, a favorite watering hole for local furry, feathered and four-legged residents.  MORE INFO

Castle Rock State Park

Southwest of San Jose and Saratoga, the Castle Rock State Park has 32 miles of trails rolling through redwood and douglas fir forests. These trails are part of an even more extensive trail system that links the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys with Castle Rock State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and the Pacific Coast.  MORE INFO

Angel Island State Park

North of San Francisco in San Francisco Bay, the Angel Island State Park is a relative hikers paradise. There are 13 miles of trails and roadways to explore. The North Ridge Trail from Ayala Cove up to Mt Livermore (788 ft) is a popular route.  MORE INFO

Damnation Creek Trail

South of Crescent City in the Redwood National Park, the Damnation Creek Trail is a route heading west to the coast. The trail descends 1,000 feet through old growth redwood and Sitka spruce. It leads down to the Coastal Trail. At the coastline, keep an eye out for Roosevelt Elk, sea lions and gray whales.  MORE INFO

Little Bald Hills Trail

East of Crescent City in the Redwood National Park, the Little Bald Hills trail is a steep, challenging hiking route through mixed confiers and open prairies. The five mile route (inside the park) is steep at times. It connects with the Paradise Trail in the National Forest for another 5 miles of treking. The trail starts with an 1,800 foot vertical climb through old growth forest. Next, it runs through a conifer forest along prairie.  MORE INFO

James Irvine Trail

South of Crescent City in the Redwood National Park, the James Irvine Trail is a scenic hike along an old gold miner trail. The route is relatively flat and runs through old growth redwoods. This route can be connected with Miners Ridge Trail for a longer hike.  MORE INFO