Top 11 Hiking And Trekking Spots In Southern California

hiking in southern california
Rienz Althron
Rienz Althron 
| 5 min read

SoCal is home to several popular tourist attractions such as Universal Studios in Los Angeles, Disneyland in Orange County, Legoland California in San Diego, and Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Riverside and San Bernardino. But these places, though great to visit, are already well-beaten paths. Are you looking for places in California where you can commune with nature or go on an adventure? If yes, then you’re in the right place because we’ll talk about the best spots in Southern California where you can have more of nature while staying at a gorgeous cabin rental. So, if you’re ready to learn more about these places, then read on as we present to you the top hiking and trekking spots in Southern California!

1. Big Laguna Trailhead

LAGUNA MEADOW FROM THE BIG LAGUNA TRAIL - Elev. 5500 feet - June 2011 - San Diego County, CA - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user BOB PERRY used under CC BY 3.0

Big Laguna Trailhead can be reached through Laguna Campground or Penny Pines, close to Mount Laguna. As it is near these tourist attractions, it makes it a great hiking trail to explore, and you will also have the opportunity to visit interesting spots before and after your hike. This trail is considered to be a moderately difficult hiking trail to take on and is suitable for intermediate to advanced hikers. There are also several activities that you can do here, such as camping, horseback riding, and bird watching. You can bring your trusted canine with you so long as he or she is leashed.

Big Laguna Trailhead

Address: Pacific Crest Trail, Mt Laguna, CA 91948, United States

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2. Solstice Canyon Trail

Solstice Canyon Trail is a 3.2-mile (5.1-kilometer) out and back hiking trail located in the Santa Monica Mountains. One of the reasons why hikers visit this spot is because of the waterfall where you can freshen up after a tiring trek or simply adore its natural beauty. This is an ideal place to spend some quality time with your family since it is regarded as kid-friendly and has several spots where you can go camping or picnicking. It is also home to one of the oldest stone buildings in Malibu. Whether you’re an adult, a child, or a leashed canine, you’ll definitely enjoy trekking here.

Solstice Canyon Trail

Address: Solstice Canyon, Malibu, CA 90265, United States

Opening hours: 8am - 7pm (daily)

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3. Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail

Oasis 3
Source: Photo by user Omar Bárcena used under CC BY 2.0

Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail is a relatively short hiking trail. It is 2.9 miles (4.6 kilometers) long and is located near Borrego Springs. It is yet another beginner-friendly trail, so it is a great spot where families can spend time together. Some of the highlights of this trail are a waterfall, wildlife, and stunning views. The trail is moderately difficult, and its elevation gains are up to 462 feet (about 140 meters). If you want to see the wildflowers at their most beautiful, its best to visit this place during the spring season. Dogs are not allowed, but don’t let that discourage you from experiencing the beauty of this place

Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail

Address: Unnamed Road, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, United States

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4. Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere(San Gabriel Mountains)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Victor Rocha used under CC BY 3.0

Bridge to Nowhere is a 9.3-mile (15-kilometer) out and back trail situated in Azusa, California. It also has a waterfall, which is great if you want to refresh after a tough hike. Some of the activities that you and your group will enjoy here are fishing, backpacking, and bird watching. Elevation gains reach 1,276 feet (389 meters). The route isn’t recommended for people who are new to hiking, as it can be quite challenging due to several stream crossings and washed-out parts.

Bridge to Nowhere

Address: Mt. Baldy, Azusa, CA 91759, United States

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California Tour Guide

Stephanie Eley

Stephanie Eley

I'm a graduate of ITMI, International Tour Management Institute and 17 years as a licensed Tour Director and Program Director. My expertise began in NYC and Washington, DC where I'm a licensed guide and has expanded to Europe, South America, Cuba and the Western / Southwestern National Parks of the US. I'd love to introduce you for a day or a week to Denver, Colorado and the 4 corners region of the US: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona! Let's GO!!

Tours by Stephanie

5. Salt Creek Interpretive Trail

Salt Creek Interpretive Trail is great for people who are just learning the ins and outs of hiking. The whole route is less than a mile (about 1.4 kilometers), and the elevation gains are just 26 feet (less than 8 meters) above sea level. The trail is for people who just want to see a bit of nature without hardcore hiking. It is stroller-friendly, as it is mostly boardwalk, so you can bring your baby with you and expose them to nature early on. And to give you another reason to visit this place, it is home to some rare and endangered pupfish that you might want to see!

Salt Creek Interpretive Trail

Address: Death Valley National Park, California 92328, USA

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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6. San Jacinto Peak

Mt. San Jacinto from Oakmont Park, Redlands 1-2012
Source: Photo by user Don Graham used under CC BY-SA 2.0

San Jacinto Peak is not for the faint of heart! Marion Mountain Trail is one of the most difficult trails here - it is for serious hikers who are up to the challenge of up to 4,500 feet (more than 1,300 kilometers) of elevation gains! Just imagine how hard that journey would be. However, reaching the peak of the second-highest mountain in Southern California is worth the hike, as the panoramic views from the top will surely take your breath away. In case you’re wondering, yes, there are lesser trails that you can take if you are not prepared to face such a difficult path.

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7. Baldy Loop

Baldy Loop, also known as Mt. Baldy or Mt. San Antonio, is recommended for advanced hikers. Its elevation gains reach 3,940 feet (1,200 meters). Though it is even more attractive when it snows, it will definitely be more challenging to hike. Please do not attempt to hike the Devil’s Backbone or Baldy Bowl when it is snowing, as it can be dangerous without professional equipment. Some of the most famous activities here include snowshoeing, bird watching, and skiing.

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8. Switzer Falls

Switzer Falls is a 50-foot (15-meter) waterfall that can be reached through the moderately easy trail of Gabrieleno. This place is kid-friendly and beginner-friendly because of its straightforward, out-and-back track. The elevation gain reaches up to 725 feet (221 meters), and the distance of the trail is about 4.3 miles (almost 7 kilometers). If you don’t want your pet dog to miss the fun, you can definitely bring him or her with you - just be sure to bring a leash!

Switzer Falls

Address: 701 Angeles Crest Hwy, Tujunga, CA 91042, United States

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9. El Moro Canyon Trail

Hiking El Moro Canyon Trail
Source: Photo by user jtriefen used under CC BY-SA 2.0

El Moro Canyon Trail is a five-mile (eight-kilometer) trail situated near Laguna Beach. It is a relatively easy hike and is kid-friendly. Some of the most popular activities for tourists here are horseback riding, mountain bicycling, and running. It is also known for the beautiful wildflowers that bloom during the spring season, which makes the whole trek even better, especially for photography enthusiasts.

El Moro Canyon Trail

Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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10. Split Rock Trail

The Split Rock rest area
Source: Photo by user IvyMike used under CC BY 2.0

Situated near Twentynine Palms, Split Rock Trail is a sight to behold. You’ll see stunning natural rock formations, plants, and even several species of animals. There are also caves that you might want to explore in the area, and the total distance of the trail is 1.9 miles (3.0 kilometers). The path is pretty simple and not that physically demanding to take, so it is perfect for amateur hikers.

Split Rock Trail

Address: Twentynine Palms, CA 92277, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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11. Boucher Hill Loop

If you are in Pala, California then you should visit Boucher Hill where you can enjoy bird watching in the forest. The route is a loop, and the total distance from start to finish is 1.9 miles (3 kilometers), with an elevation gain of 321 feet (98 meters). The highlight of this trail is its breathtaking views from the top. It is a great place to bond with friends or family members, or if you feel like solo soul-searching surrounded by nature.

Boucher Hill Loop

Address: Palomar Mountain State Park, California 92061, USA

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Enjoy nature in Southern California!

Modern life can be tiring, and we could all use a little time with Mother Nature. If you feel like you need to reconnect with nature, then definitely visit one of these top hiking and trekking spots in Southern California.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Rienz is a former office-based employee who entered the world of travel writing. His ultimate dream is to be able to travel the world and experience as much of it as he can. By pursuing his dreams,...Read more

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