With the summer season kicked into full gear, travelers and locals are revving up to hit the beach, fly out to exotic locales, or even visit an amusement park. While those places are an absolute blast, this summer why not spend some time outside with Mother Nature? Even in our hectic and technology infused lives, the simplicity of the great outdoors can provide an easy and inexpensive way to unwind and while receiving that healthy dose of exercise! While Southern California is known for its beautiful beaches and world class attractions, hiding along the stunning coastlines are some of the area’s best hiking trails. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, take a look below for a trail that’s perfect for you!
1. Holy Jim Falls Trail
Location: Live Oak Canyon Rd. Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678
Features: Due to its ever-changing landscape, abundance of indigenous wildlife, and the beautiful Holy Jim Falls, this south Orange County trail is a beloved landmark for both southern California locals and hiking enthusiasts. This trail in particular is known for a canopy of 100 year old trees that envelop people in its shade, which is especially needed during the balmy summer days. Local critters such as white-tailed deer, gopher snakes, and even rattlesnakes make an appearance from time to time so take extra caution. Start out early to miss the crowds! Start out early to miss the crowd!
2. Mt. Rubidoux Trail
Location: Mt. Rubidoux Dr. Riverside, Ca 92501
Features: The beautiful Mt. Rubidoux trail is reminiscent of old California before highways and skyscrapers took over the landscape. Created by Frank Miller (founder of the Mission Inn in Riverside), this Inland Empire trail is made up of historical elements from Riverside’s yesteryear and is vastly treasured by its locals as well as visitors near and far. Mt. Rubidoux consists of a variety of trails, ranging from paved walkways to rugged, adventurous trails. Come and enjoy Mt. Rubidoux’s popular landmarks such as the “Peace Bridge” as well as the the giant white cross that greets hikers on top of the summit.
3. Runyon Canyon
Location: 2000 N. Fuller Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046
Features: Los Angeles may not typically be known for its natural charm or rugged wilderness, however there’s a small portion of the city that serves as a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. While finding parking for this trail can be cumbersome, the Runyon Canyon hike provides an absolutely gorgeous view of the L.A. skyline and the Hollywood Hills. Perhaps you may even see a celebrity or two walking their dog or taking a “seflie” at the top peak of this Los Angeles hot spot! Make sure you arrive early because parking fills up quickly.
4. Stonewall Peak
Location: Cuyumaca Rancho State Park 12551 Highway 79 Descanso, CA 91916
Features: Next time you visit the Ayres Lodge Alpine, pack a backpack full of snacks, water, and sunscreen and take a 30 minute joy ride out to Cuyumaca Rancho State Park! Inside this park encompasses a trail known as Stonewall Peak which offers stunning panoramic views of the wilderness as well as the Cuyumaca Reservoir. Although some parts of the trail may be a bit steep, the summit at Stonewall Peak provides a rewarding finish at the top of the peak. If you ever want to feel like you’re on top of the world, Stonewall Peak is the perfect trail for you!
5. Mt. San Antonio Loop (Mt. Baldy Loop)
Location: 6700 Mount Baldy Rd. Mount Baldy, CA 91759
Features: While this southern Californian landmark is primarily known as a winter destination for skiers and snowboarders, this Mt. San Antonio Loop is also host to one of the most strenuous hiking trails in the region. Consisting of an 11 mile loop that encircles the area, the trail takes hikers 3,900 feet up through scraggly crevices, steep inclines, and pine-lined pathways. One section of the hike suitably named the Devil’s Backbone Trail offers an impressive view of the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains, but it’s not for the faint of heart. If you ever want to feel like you’re part of Frodo’s fellowship in “The Lord of the Rings,” this trail is a must. Make sure to invest in some good hiking shoes!
6. Santiago Peak
Location: Cleveland National Forest Silverado, CA 92676
Features: Known to locals as Saddleback Mountain, this is one hiking trail that every Orange County local must experiences at some point in time. Spanning 15 miles from the base to the top and back, this is one hike that needs extensive planning and a day of rest because it’s guaranteed to get those legs pumping! While it’s close to the easier Holy Jim Trail, the Santiago Peak trail trumps Holy Jim thanks to its daunting 5,689 feet summit when hikers reach the top. On a clear day, at the top of the mountain peak, hikers will get to experience an unforgettable view over a portion of Orange County and even Catalina Island!