California has some of the most diverse landscape in the US. From beach to the mountains to the desert to prairies to wine country, what ever type of hiking you’re looking for, you’ll find it.
As with all our lists, there’s no exact science in finding the top 10 hiking or mountain biking trails anywhere (head to Over The Edge Bikes & Coffee to get details). If you want to bring your younger kids on the trails get a balance bike for them. It depends on what you’re looking for, your exercise level, what/who are you taking, the list goes on. But, I think we’re done a good job pinning down the best of the best California has to offer. Offer your feedback below, we’d love to hear it…
#1. Half Dome
Half Dome is the symbol of Yosemite. Not only is it the Ansel Adams lithographs you see everywhere, but it’s an actual place. The summit is the goal of just about everybody who has ever donned a pair of hiking boots in the Northern California area. It’s tough, but, well worth every photographic step.
#2. American River Confluence to Lake Clementine
Contrasting dynamics and a wild-river canyon take center stage on this hike. You’ll encounter raging rapids, soothing pools, a loud waterfall at a dam, and a tranquil lake. Start near the confluence o …
#3. 20 Lakes Basin Loop
A short jaunt brings backpackers to a scenic granite sub-basin for an overnight in the shadow of beautiful peaks. Sturdy dayhikers will have no trouble taking this trip in a single day, with or without the ferry’s help.
#4. Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
Over a 100 years ago, John Muir declared the Sierra Nevada “the most Divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I’ve ever seen.” Millions of people have since made pilgrimage here to experience the beauty of Tuolumne.
#5. The Lake Tahoe Rim Trail – California side
Living in the greater Tahoe region, has given me the opportunity to view first hand some of the most beautiful land on the planet. From Kings Beach in the North to Zephyr Cove in the South there’s more an 20 trailheads and countless views of staggering beauty each and everyone. Pick a trail, park and enjoy the Norther Sierras.
#6. The Cool to Canyon Loop
Linking rolling, pastoral grasslands with the raw, rugged American River Canyon, this loop trail embraces two very different, but very classic, faces of Gold Country foothill scenery.
#7. Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake
Your destination, Thousand Island Lake, is one of the Sierra’s great beauty spots, a huge sheet of sky-blue water dotted picturesquely with granite islands. Next to Lake Tahoe this could be the most breath taking view of an alpine lake in the US.
#8. North Fork of the American River
The North Fork of the American River is best known for whitewater rafting and gold mining. But, if you get the chance to hike the North Fork, I’d suggest it. The power of the river is one thing, but, you rarely get the chance to “stop and smell the roses”.
#9. Clouds Rest
The summit of Clouds Rest is the best seat in the house for enjoying the drama of Yosemite Valley and the country around it. From this vantage point, the star of the show, Half Dome looks almost ethereal.
#10. Found and Lost – The Lost Coast Trail (South to North)
The hike follows The Lost Coast Trail from Usal Camp to Orchard Camp, a strenuous multi-day trek. Those wishing to dayhike from the south trailhead have a few options.