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15 BEST HIKES IN CALIFORNIA – INSPIRATION TO GET OUTDOORS

Dreamy pink boulders, cloudy mountains, and Avatar blue waterfalls cover California’s landscape, all of which make it hard to pick the best hikes in California. However, we’re sure going to try.

Although California is known more for its movie sets than it is for its national parks, the true beauty of the state sits in its natural wonders. Grab your pen and paper and let’s get into the 15 best hikes in California.

Places To Hike In California

  • Note: Some activities and trails may be affected by COVID-19. Check for closures and restrictions before planning your trip to any national park. Please Check with the NPS website for current conditions. Additional details are available.

John Muir Trail

If you want to go trail hopping, you can via the John Muir Trail. You can start from Yosemite National Park trailhead, through Sequoia National Park, and King’s Canyon National Park. Along your trail climbs you’re going to be going through Ansel Adams Wilderness as well as John Muir Wilderness.

It is a 211-mile trail so you can do a part of it or take some vacation time to do a full trek through all of it. If you do go through all of it, you’ll end at Mount Whitney, which is the tallest mountain in the (continental) US.

Regardless of whether you do a short hike or a long one, you’re going to find glassy lakes, mysterious caverns, and other mountains that rival Mount Whitney’s almost 15,000 feet. This park trail is pretty difficult with an elevation gain of 46,000 feet.

Note: When hiking the John Muir Trail you will be drinking out of lakes, rivers, and streams on the John Muir Trails, so it is important to pack a water filter system.The Sawyer Squeeze System, or the SteriPen are good options for purifying water. Read more Tips for Hiking the John Muir Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail can take you all the way from California right into Canada. It is 2650 miles (4265 km) long and lets you see the gorgeous gradient of North America’s landscape as you traverse it from south to north. Of course, most people aren’t going to be doing the full hike into the northern territory, but it’s romantic to think about doing so just the same.

The trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail is in Campo, which is a town that sits on the US/Mexico border. From the Campo trailhead you can take the 20-mile trail to Lake Morena.

It is a difficult trail due to the length of it. Along the way, you’ll see Morena Butte, one of the most stately mountains on the trail. There is an elevation gain of 857 feet. See details about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail at Discover the Trail

Continue reading the complete list of hiking spots in California, put together by the PlanetD team here.

LAST UPDATED

May 9, 2022

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The Planet D

Media Mentions from The Planet D

Adventure couple featured by BBC, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Red Bull, Martha Stewart.

Adventurers & Speakers, Forbes Top 10 Travel Influencer. 10yrs of adventure in 108 countries/7 continents - 2x Winner Best Travel Blog SATW - 2x winner NATJA

MEDIA MENTIONS

While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere

MEDIA MENTIONS

SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team