Southern California is arguably one of the best destinations on not only the West Coast, but in the entire United States. With rugged desert landscapes in Joshua Tree and oceanside seascapes in San Diego, to towering mountain ranges and LA-esque scenes in Hollywood, there really is no place like SoCal. Here are some of the best SoCal hikes and outdoor trails to stroll on if you’d like to explore the area more by foot.
Brush Canyon Trail
Nothing is more quintessentially LA than visiting Hollywood—and via the Brush Canyon Trail, hikers can literally walk alongside the backside of the Hollywood sign. This trail boasts a moderate climb of 1,050 feet, and at its peak, offers incomparable views of the Santa Monica Mountains, Dodger Stadium and the Griffith Observatory, among a number of other visible, iconic landmarks.
Yucca Point Trail
Torrey Pines State Reserve
Torrey Pines State Reserve is located just north of La Jolla, and as you’d probably expect, it’s just as magical and quaint as you’d hope any beachside California destination would be. The area boasts nearly 2,000 acres of coastal views, with the Yucca Point Trail offering exclusive access to the beach too. Few places are as scenic as Torrey Pines State Reserve—and if you’re looking for a calm, morning walk or a sun-drenched evening stroll, this trail is definitely a can’t-miss spot.
Smuggler’s Cove Trail
Channel Islands National Park
This 7.7-mile hike is hosted on Channel Islands National Park, and is basically West Coast paradise at its finest. The Channel Islands are found off the coast of the Ventura and Oxnard areas, and offer pristine landscapes for hikers, campers and evening kayaking enthusiasts looking for unique SoCal hikes. Plus, Santa Cruz Island—which is one of five that make up the national park—has a total of 15 hiking trails, with Smuggler’s Cove Trail being a popular route that takes travelers through luscious ecosystems and alongside rocky cliff sides.
Ryan Mountain Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
Contrary to popular belief, California is actually home to a lot of vibrant, desert landscapes. And in Joshua Tree National Park, in particular, the Ryan Mountain Trail seamlessly blends cacti-ridden views with burgeoning boulders that make the hike both beautiful and physically challenging. Plus, at the trail’s summit, visitors can experience a bird’s-eye view of the Joshua Tree area, including the remaining ruins of mines and ranches.
Mt. Baldy Hike
Angeles National Forest
The Los Angeles skyline is pretty iconic—but its backdrop is even more spectacular, and often overlooked. Mt. Baldy is a towering, snow-capped mountain that sits in Los Angeles County and is arguably, a rather unique sight to see in the heart of LA—which also makes this trail one of the best SoCal hikes in the state. The mountain’s top reaches an elevation of 3,390 feet and this particular trail is 11 miles in length. At its peak, Mt. Baldy features 360-degree views of quintessential California landscapes.