The hills and coastline of southern California are guaranteed to provide majestic vistas for all adventurers. Located just minutes from some of America’s most gorgeous and unique outdoor destinations, it’s easy to fall in love with hiking, backpacking, and camping around here.
While the majority of outdoor enthusiasts flock north toward the land of John Muir in Yosemite and the stunning trails and sights around Lake Tahoe, the southern reaches of California hold a timeless beauty that is as pure and wild as you can imagine. Out on the trails, destinations full of wonder can be found with just a few short miles of walking.
Before heading out on any adventure in southern California, be sure to stop at Adventure 16. Referred to as A16, these four stores are a favorite of the local outdoorsy-types.With locations from LA to San Diego, A16 has southern California covered. And the staff here can help hook you up with the right gear, no matter the adventure.
With summer upon us, you should definitely pick up one of Osprey’s hydration packs from A16. Perfect for hikes on warm summer days, the Skarab and Skimmer packs are roomy, comfortable and able to hold a lot of gear. These packs make it very easy to drink water as you are hiking, rather than having to stop and take out a water bottle to re-hydrate.
Once you have your pack picked out and your gear to fill it, you just have to decide where to go. Here are some great trails to get your adventure started:
Just outside Los Angeles, there are hundreds of miles of trails waiting patiently for you to grace their hard-packed dirt. While you can literally head out in any direction and find a good hike just outside of LA, there are a few in particular worth mentioning.
Start with Mount Baldy, one of the most photographed sights in southern California. The hike to the 10,064-foot summit is steep, exposed to the sun, and downright worth every drop of sweat. Begin your hike at Manker Campground, an hour from downtown LA. The trail is 11 miles round trip, weaves through marked and unmarked sections, and brings you to the justifiably beautiful views from the summit.
If Mount Baldy is a bit much but you still want incredible views, head out to Sandstone Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains. At just 6.1 miles and a little more than 1,500 feet in elevation gain, Sandstone Peak is a fun trail with amazing views. It’s well-maintained and weaves through the natural beauty of the the greater Los Angeles area.
If you are looking for even easier and more unique hikes, head to the beautiful Monrovia Canyon Falls or explore an old, washed out road that leads to the stunning and often photographed Bridge to Nowhere. Just make sure to fill up the hydration system in your comfy Osprey backpack before heading out on the trail.
If you live in San Diego, the beauty of the south coast is easy to love and explore. Less than two hours from the busy streets and ocean views of the city, Anza Borrego State Park makes for the perfect outdoor trip. Head up for a day hike or make a weekend of it and camp at the park.
This state park’s hidden jewel is the Slot Canyon Trail. It leads to rock formations that would look more at home in Utah. The trailhead is a bit tricky to find, but once you are there, the trail leads you to one of the most stunning canyons in the entire state. If you are looking for a scenic adventure, don’t skip this hike!
Closer to town, the 5.6-mile Cuyamaca Peak Trail at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park leads to stunning views of San Diego County and a large chunk of southern California. At 6,512 feet above sea level, the views here are awesome. In the late summer and fall, wildflowers make this trail even more impressive.
Finally, this year is the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration and Americans are being told to head outdoors and #FindYourPark. While you can go to Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, or the other heavily visited national parks, you can also stay nearby and visit the equally stunning Joshua Tree National Park.
Spending a weekend at Joshua Tree is full of jaw-dropping wonder. Camping here is hands-down one of the most spectacular things you can can do. There is nothing better than sitting beneath the stunning night sky soaking in the beauty of the Milky Way. As the limited light makes the shadows of the Joshua Trees dance on the desert floor, you can relive your day of hiking in the desert, climbing in the mountains, and exploring the hidden gems of this beautiful park.
– Via Roots Rated