Everyone enjoys a good hike or out-and-back trail, no matter what your endurance level, California has something for you. The weather can be challenging, but the views are boundless and breathtaking, whether you are on a leisurely day stroll or a multi-day mountain trek. You can enjoy Redwood forests, beautiful coastlines, waterfalls, and a variety of terrain that is sure to excite hardy hikers and day-trippers alike. California really is a hiker’s paradise.
Here are X of the most scenic hiking trails, though you can be sure that you can find hundreds more on your adventure!
1. The Mist Trail- Yosemite
Yosemite is absolutely brimming with hiking opportunities, but the most popular, and with good reason, is the Mist Trail. As you ascend the trail toward the mighty Vernal Falls, it won't take you long to understand where the name came from. This is an exceptionally busy section of a busy route, the os doesn’t expect to get the place to yourself. However, it is well worth the extra effort to push on and make a day of this trail, which is beyond scenic.
Continue and you will pass the beautiful emerald pool, and then it is on to Nevada Fall, the 594 ft beauty that makes the climax of the hike. You can also hike to the top of the falls, and you can continue on to Half Dome (one of Yosemite’s finest granite dome displays), or you can take the John Muir Trail back to your starting point, which is a stunning walk in itself and is a less steep and demanding route down.
The Mist Trail can be completed in roughly a half-day round journey, including stops and leisurely view-taking.
2. Pine Ridge Trail To Sykes Hot Springs
This is a 20-mile there-and-back trail that takes you straight through the Big Sur wilderness near the central coast of California. The hike is most pleasant but begins with a pretty grueling two-hour uphill climb; great to get the blood pumping. It then evens off nicely, but remains interesting, as you stroll along the side of the hill, with spectacular views of the higher mountains all around you.
After a few miles you enter tree cover, and during this section, you will find several beautiful waterfalls, as well as lush vegetation and wildflowers. Just before you reach the Sykes campsites you will face perhaps the toughest section (at least, this is the case in rainy weather), where you must cross a river to reach your goal. The hot springs can be found near the campsite, and are the perfect way to relax at the end of a nice day of hiking.
3. Skyline To The Sea Trail
The Skyline to the Sea is a multiple-day hike stretching around 30 miles, but the first section is rather uneventful, and you could consider just starting from the Castle Rock State Park to avoid what is essentially a highway section.
The latter two-thirds, however, should be considered as holding some of the finest hiking in California, and take you on a trip through the Castle Rock forests and on to the ancient Redwood forests of Big Basin, before finally emerging at the Pacific Coast. Nothing quite beats the feeling of ending a challenging hike at the coast; you simply can’t walk any further in that direction.
Camping facilities for overnight stays in the park are very basic, but this is the feel that you want if you like the wilderness.
4. Lost Coast Trail
If your looking for something completely remote and out of the way, lacking in crowds, but abundant in beautiful coastal views, then the Lost Coast Trail is for you. Even the name will appeal to many. The trail takes hugs the Californian coast where Highway 1 diverts away – due to the rough terrain. Hiking is, however, highly accessible, though the one concern is that you should plan well to watch out for high tides in some sections. Campsites are available, as are abundant water supplies. Oh, and there are bears so be aware of that.
This is a 24-mile route to really get away from it all. True wilderness in this remote and unspoiled part of California's coastline.