California hiking trails are some of the best hikes you’ll find anywhere. Discover the top California hikes. Get detailed information on nature hikes throughout California. Access hiking trail maps, tips, and directions.
California is a large state with diverse geographic opportunities to enjoy. Enjoy hiking along the coastline with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy breathtaking mountain views hiking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Hike through dense redwood forests or beautiful desert scenery. California has so much to offer. Plan an outdoor getaway soon!
Northern California Hiking Trails
Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve
Coastal redwoods are the tallest living thing on the Earth. This state reserve is the place to visit and enjoy these amazing trees. Experience the amazing serenity and beauty of this redwood forest. The tallest tree in this redwood grove is 310 feet high.
Hiking trails at Armstrong Woods range from easy to strenuous. This park is located in Guerneville. Hikes range from one to nine miles in length. This is the heart of the Russian River Wine Region. This region produces an abundance of outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Bothe Napa Valley State Park
Discover a serene redwood forest. It’s located just off the highway near the city of Calistoga, the most northern part of Napa Valley. There are 10 miles of hikes available to hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists.
The most popular hike takes you to the top. Hikers are rewarded with scenic vistas of the Napa Valley and surrounding hills.
While in the area, take time to visit historic Calistoga. Calistoga is known for being the most laid-back area of the Napa Valley. Most of the wineries are small, family owned wineries. Visitors also head to Calistoga to enjoy the hot mineral springs and the very popular mud baths.
Caverns in the Sierra Foothills
Discover the underground world of limestone caverns in the Sierra Foothills. You can explore the caverns on a guided walking tour. Some of the caverns have trails that let you hike outdoors in the surrounding area. If you’re really adventurous, you might want to rappel down into the cave.
Grapes were planted in the Sierra Foothills during the 1800s by Europeans who immigrated to California looking for gold. The flagship wine produced in this region is Zinfandel. Zinfandels from this regions are recognized as being full-bodied, bold wines. You will also find outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, Ports, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Primitive.
Hike Half Dome – Yosemite National Park
You’ll find many hikes at Yosemite National Parks from easy to strenuous. The ultimate Yosemite hike is the iconic hike to the top of Half Dome. I’ve done this hike numerous times. Read my tips and advice on planning for this exciting hike.
Yosemite National Park is a truly awesome place. This is the reason that visitors from around the globe visit this park every year. It’s definitely worth exploring. Yosemite gets my vote for the most beautiful place in California!
Wineries are located in nearby Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties. In fact, before Prohibition more wine was produced in this area than in the Napa Valley. Wine production died off but is experiencing a rebirth in recent years. Wineries are small, family owned businesses.
John Muir Woods – Marin County
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and drive into Marin County to enjoy a day of hiking at John Muir Woods. An amazing California Redwoods Forest is just a short drive from San Francisco. Pick up a trail map at the Visitor’s Center.Enjoy a variety of hikes beginning with a short half mile loop that begins as you enter the park.
Marin County is just north of San Francisco and borders Sonoma County on the north. They have some unique small wineries that are family owned and operated. Located in a cool climate, they primarily produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Van Damme State Park – Mendocino
Find peace and serenity at Van Damme State Park near Mendocino. Hike or bike through a fern covered canyon along Little River Creek. A beautiful hike any season of the year. An easy hike on a paved trail! There are 10 miles of trails in this state park.
Mendocino is famous for its unspoiled beauty, secluded beaches, breathtaking views, and fabulous award winning wines. This is one of the leading wine regions to organically produce wines. They have many award winning wines which and are mostly known for their top quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Central California Hiking Trails
Point Lobos State Reserve
You’ll love the dramatic ocean views at Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey. There are a variety of hikes. They even have a few trails that are wheelchair accessible. You might spot a whale or two.
Point Lobos is home to many animals including sea lions, sea otters, seals, and a variety of birds. A spectacular place to hike!
More than 40 different varietals of wine are produced in Monterey County. You’ll find many world class wines just waiting to be enjoyed!
Garland Ranch Regional Park
Garland Ranch is located in the scenic Carmel Valley. It’s a dog friendly park. There are areas that allow dogs to roam off-leash.
You’ll find lots of hiking trails to choose from for beginners to experienced hikers. Gorgeous scenery!
A major attraction in the area that you should visit if you can is The Monterey Bay Aquarium They have a variety of fascinating exhibits that are worth a visit.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Hike through a redwood forest, along a creek, past lush waterfalls, and on sunny ridge tops with fabulous views. You’ll find just the hike for you at Big Basin. This was California’s first state park.
Big Basin State Park was established in 1902. This park is well known for having some of the best California hiking trails. The park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, home also to a number of award winning wineries. This is the region to taste fabulous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Bishop’s Peak is a popular hike in San Luis Obispo. This 4 mile round-trip hike to the peak offers a panoramic view that includes Morro Bay, the Pacific Ocean, Cal Poly, and the surrounding hills.
The Bishop Peak’s hike takes approximately 2 hours to do this hike. Hike in the morning and head to the beach or a nearby winery in the afternoon. Check Out the Top 15 Things to Do in San Luis Obispo.
Black Hill Trail at Morro Bay State Park
Black Hill Trail is a 3 mile round-trip hike located in Morro Bay State Park. Park in the marina parking lot across from the campground. The hike begins in the campground.
It’s an easy hike with an elevation gain of 600 feet. The hike can be done in approximately 2 hours. It’s often foggy during the summer months. On clear days the view at the summit is stunning.
San Luis Obispo is famous for its delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. However, you will find other high quality wines produced here such as Syrah, Sparkling Wines, Port, Grenache, Merlot, Roussanne, and Viognier.
Nojoqui Falls – near Solvang
This is an easy hike (.6 miles roundtrip) for all ages. Located just 1 and a half miles off of Highway 101, it would be a perfect break for travelers driving along 101.
It’s best to do this hike in the winter or early spring when the water will be at full flow. However, this picture was taken mid-summer and it’s still pretty even in the summer. One of the shorter California hiking trails!
Santa Barbara is best known for its top quality Chardonnay, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. However, many other varietals are produced here. You will find excellent wines of every varietal as you tour Santa Barbara wineries.
Southern California Hiking Trails
Torrey Pines State Reserve
Explore eight miles of hiking trails at Torrey Pines in the La Jolla area of San Diego. This coastal park has 2000 acres of stunning scenery. Highlights include rare Torrey Pine trees, miles of gorgeous beaches, and a lagoon that is a habitat for migrating seabirds.
There are more than 60 wineries in San Diego. Some are urban wineries with tasting rooms in the city of San Diego. There are numerous wineries located away from the city either in the eastern or northern sections of the county.
Hike to Cedar Creek Falls in San Diego
Cedar Creek Falls is a scenic hike through the hills of Eastern San Diego. The falls cascade into a pool below. It’s a blast to swim in the pool beneath the falls. The 80 foot high Cedar Creek Falls is located southwest of Julian.
Spring is the best time for this hike. Wild flowers will be blooming. The falls do dry up in the summer and the extreme heat can be dangerous during those hot summer months. If you are spending some time in the area, Check out the Top 25 Things to do in San Diego.
Hike Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain is a six mile roundtrip hike that takes you to the top of Iron Mountain. On a clear day you can see all of San Diego. There’s even a magnified viewer that zooms in on the sights. It’s fun to point out the landmarks you can recognize.
Iron Mountain is located on Highway 67 near Poway in east San Diego County. The hike usually takes two to three hours, but depends on your pace and how long you linger at the top to enjoy the stunning view.
If you have hiked any of these California hiking trails, please leave a comment below to tell us about your experiences.