Los Angeles, AKA cement city, is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of scenic mountain hikes enveloped by nature. But believe it or not, Los Angeles, as well as the rest of Southern California, plays host to some of the most unique and breathtaking hikes we’ve ever come across. Every weekend we find ourselves searching for new hikes to conquer, so we thought we would compile a list of the best hikes in Southern California! (FYI, these are not in any particular order)
Mt. Waterman is the epitome of what most people laugh about when they picture skiing in LA. Tucked away into the mountains of the Angeles National Forrest, Mt. Waterman has one tiny ski lift that is just off the side of the road and is dried up about 90% of the year.
Our experience with Mt. Waterman, however, was not a skiing trip. Mt. Waterman also has a 5.5-mile trail which cuts through the beautiful pine trees and up to the summit of Mt. Waterman.
Once you reach the summit, you’ll enjoy a gorgeous and expansive view that stretches over the Angeles National Forrest.
This one is pretty grueling and is quite ambiguous considering you don’t reach the actual bridge for about 5 miles. The hike covers about 10 or 11 miles round trip and can kick your butt if it is hot and sunny out.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can pay to bungee jump off the bridge (just over $100). If you prefer to relax and enjoy the creek, there are plenty of pools and mini waterfalls to relax in and rest your legs before you head back. Make sure to bring towels so you can enjoy a nice swim!
Don’t worry, we haven’t seen any Rattlesnakes on this hike…yet!! If it happens to be hot and dry out, be sure to watch your step. The great thing about this hike is that you can make it anywhere from about 3.5 to 5 miles. If you hike up to the meadow and turn around, you’ll do the 3.5 miles. If you hike up to Gibralter rock and back, you’ll do closer to 5 miles. Rattlesnake also has amazing ocean views at many points along the way (are you starting to get a sense that we like ocean view hikes?….we do!).
A unique offering of Rattlesnake Trail is that in the springtime when the flowers are all in bloom it has the most amazing smell you could ever imagine! It’s honestly worth going on this hike just to lay in the meadow and enjoy aroma while listening to the birds chirp.
It’s probably now very apparent that Sandstone and Escondido are two of our favorite hikes, as we previously mentioned them in our 8 Gems of Malibu blog.
Sandstone Peak is about a 6 mile loop with 4 main stopping points along the way: Sandstone Peak (the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountain Range), Inspiration Point (our favorite part of the hike because of it’s panoramic view of Malibu), Tri-Peaks, and Split Rock. About 50% of the front side of the hike has jaw dropping ocean views, while the back half seems a bit more wooded.
Escondido Falls is arguably the most famous hike in Malibu, and rightfully so. We’ve done this hike during dry season and have seen only a few drops of water coming down, but have also done it after the rainy seasons and were pleased to see much more water cascading down the mossy rocks. A bit of advice: either do this hike on a weekday or prepare to deal with huge crowds.
Broken Hill Trail sits just above Black’s Beach in San Diego and is part of the Torrey Pines Park. This trail has awesome lookouts which give hikers views as far as La Jolla Cove and even has a staircase that leads down to Black’s Beach. Do note that you need to purchase a day parking pass at the ranger station before you start your adventure.
We’ve made this a nice photography walk, a night hike to shoot meteor showers, and one of the more grueling hikes of our lives. Malibu Creek is simply one of those hikes that can be anything you want it to be. It is great for families as well as the serious hiker. One side of the hike is home to an old M.A.S.H. site and has some of the trucks and memorabilia that were used during the filming of the show. This site is just a bit East of the Reagan Ranch. Make your way over to take pictures in some of the old army trucks and eat a picnic lunch on the army style picnic benches.
Another aspect of this hike is the creek itself. Although small, the creek is beautiful and on a hot summer day, the most refreshing place to swim. There are large boulders to jump off into the water as well as some wonderful rock climbing opportunities.
One day we decided to take the trail all the way up to Corral Canyon in Malibu and ended up doing 15 miles round trip….on a 95 degree (F) day….with far too little water. So If you’re going to do this whole trail during the summer make sure to lather up with sunscreen and take a few liters of water.
Be sure you sign the book once you make it to the top! And look for our goofy signatures if the same composition book is still there.
Calabasas Peak is a nice hike that can be made to be about 5 miles if you explore the numerous side trails. It is the highest point in Calabasas and has gorgeous views of the valley as well as the Santa Monica Mountains on one side, and the ocean on the other side. The amazing sandstone slabs make Calabasas peak a great hike for some bouldering and off-trail exploring.
This one has a number of names and a number of things to see in just a short mile or two. While the entire Bulldog loop runs about 15 miles, you can drive up to the top of Corral Canyon, park in the parking lot, and see Jim Morrison’s cave, some awesome rock formations, and panoramic views of both Malibu and Calabasas all within just about 2 miles.
The picture you see at the top of every Couple’s Coordinates page was taken on this very trail!
Paradise Falls, although easily overlooked, is definitely one of our favorite little secrets of Ventura County. Snuggled in the midst of Thousand Oaks this hike makes you feel like you truly are lost in nature. Hike down to the waterfall to enjoy the view, or have a picnic under the tipi. There are also some great Indian caves that are fun to explore. We like that this hike can be as long or short as you make it. With so much to see its hard not to include this one on our list of favorites.
Of course, Punch Bowls had to make the list. How could we not include something that we dedicated an entire blog to?
In the quite unorganized fashion that we explored the Punch Bowls, it ended up being about a 12 mile out and back hike. You’ll definitely want to bring a bathing suit and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and have enough support to climb rocks for 4 or 5 hours. Check out our Punch Bowls blog (link above) for more information!
What are your favorite hikes in So Cal? Tell us below in the comments and meet us out on the trail sometime!