10 Of The Most Scenic Hikes in California

California, our Place of the Month, has been hit harder than most by the pandemic.  So I thought this would be a good time to focus on the natural beauty Cali has to offer that will keep you and your loved ones away from any safety concerns while still enjoying every second.  Here is a list of 10 outdoor excursions to keep you up and moving during your time in The Golden State.

#1  Hike Up to the Hollywood Sign

Okay, so we have to get what California is most well-known for on this list somewhere.  If you find yourself near the City of Angels, it’s worth visiting one of the most iconic locations in the state.  It’s considered a rite of passage for many, so make your way up to the Hollywood sign if you get the chance.

#2 Big Sur Coastline

Big Sur is stunning.  It houses rocky mountains, green foliage, and a gorgeous view of the Pacific ocean.  Whether you are driving or walking, you can make a days-long adventure of this picturesque location.  If you’ve got some hours to kill, there are few beaches with the weather and scenery this collection offers.

#3 Glacier Point

If you have ever wanted to stargaze, California is a fantastic option.  One of the most awe-inspiring locations I have ever had the pleasure to gaze upon is Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.  Get there a few hours before sunset to take in all of its glory as the skies populate with a spectacular view of millions of stars.

#4 Emerald Bay

In Lake Tahoe, one of the most scenic state parks in the state houses a bay with a little island in the center.  On that island sits the cutest little tea shop you have ever seen.  Kayaking through Emerald Park will remain one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had, and I would bet you will enjoy the experience as well.  Then take the little hike up the island and have yourself a spot of tea.

#5 Death Valley

Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest state park in the world.  It sits below sea level and has had absurdly high heat records making it the hottest place on earth.  You can watch the famous sliding rocks created by ice and heat, visit the sights of the filming of Star Wars, and  hike, camp, or road trip your way through this almost alien land.  In addition, if you’re an astronomy buff, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better stargazing spot in the continental United States.

#6 Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is so cool.  The Mojave and Coloroado desert meet in this fascinating and diverse ecological masterpiece.  Harsh winds and the occasional torrential rains have shaped the natural architecture to appear almost dream-like.  If you’ve ever felt like you’ve wanted to roam the unfamiliar as a character in Alice in Wonderland, this may be the place to go.

#7 Redwood National and State Park

If you have never seen the Redwoods, I encourage you to add it to your list.  With natural waterways, coastline, and an amazingly diverse animal habitat, outdoors people walk into an actual dream when you stand beside the tallest trees on earth.  Be aware, a full day is preferred while traversing this intensely surreal scenery.

#8  Moaning Cavern

If you are a thrill-seeking type, central California has something you may enjoy.  This cavern is so large, the Statue of Liberty could comfortably fit inside.  You can pay to rappel down and the view, darkness, and pure majesty is quite a sight to behold.  Even if thrill is not your flavor, I recommend the visit.

#9 Ano Nuevo

I am a big animal lover so traveling over the sand dunes in Ano Nuevo State Park to discover hundreds of elephant seals was thrilling.  As you reach the summit of each dune, you may run into groups of these big guys.  It feels like a desert mixed with a coastal safari and you’re bound to get phenomenal pictures on this trek.

#10 Pinnacles National Park

What is more adventurous than exploring caves?  Go spelunk through the incredible cave system at Pinnacles National Park.  It is a secluded place in the country and there is a short trail leading up to this little mystery right outside of the town of Soledad in Salinas Valley.  It is what remained of half of a volcano and the caves are made entirely of old volcanic rock falling in on itself. The trip is rocky and uneven due to its natural creation so wear good shoes.

California is a hotbed of stunning outdoor activities and you will never be hard-pressed to find a wonderful calming hike, or intense adventurous wander through this state. As always, remember to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures.  And enjoy every second of the beauty this state in its natural form has to offer.

Happy hiking!

Continue reading: 3 Must Visit Cities + Cali Travel Guides

About the Author

Dallas Thornley is a lifelong writer and traveler.  Born in El Paso, TX as an army brat, she had the opportunity to visit cities all over the country. She has continued to wanderlust as an international traveler. She now lives in Utah with her daughter and her cat.

Dallas Thornley

Dallas Thornley