Southern California has incredibly diverse landscapes that practically beg visitors to get out and explore. You can encounter towering mountains, sweltering deserts, and sandy beaches, all within a day’s drive of each other. Once you get to experience some of the fantastic recent whale sightings, head south for a hiking adventure.
Why Is SoCal Good For Hiking?
The varied terrain is only part of the lure of Southern California. There is also a warm climate, so you can comfortably play outdoors most of the year. In addition, a large state-wide focus on conservation provides ample opportunities for hiking regardless of your fitness or experience level.
Best Trails For Summer Hiking
Whether you want to enjoy a shaded trek near the beach, tackle one of the region’s towering peaks, or check out some desert flora and fauna, these are some of the best trails in Southern California to visit.
Solstice Canyon Trail
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, this trail is relatively flat and accessible. It also offers a refreshing amount of shade, which can make a summer SoCal hike much more enjoyable.
Los Peñasquitos Canyon
You can visit here all day and not realize you are actually within the boundaries of San Diego. It provides opportunities for exercise under a shady canopy of riparian wilderness. The Peñasquitos Creek flows through the preserve, and you can view two waterfalls on this flat six-mile hike. Once you are done, head out for a spectacular;r view of the San Diego skyline 2022.
San Jacinto Peak via Marion Mountain Trail
If you are looking for a challenging SoCal day hike, look no further than this challenging 13+ mile hike in Palos Verde. While the elevation allows for cooler summer temperatures, it also means you must be able to handle a 4,500-foot gain during this nine-hour hike.
Big Laguna Trail
Located in San Diego’s Cleveland National Forest, this trail is best experienced in the summer months. It has a little bit of everything, so you are sure to find something you like during your adventure. It is moderately difficult, covering an elevation gain of a little more than 1,200 feet.
Special Considerations for Summer Hiking in SoCal
Summer heat can be incredibly dangerous, particularly in the desert areas of SoCal. Because of that, you want to take a few extra precautions before embarking on your next adventure. Some tips to help you manage the risks include:
- Seek shade, which can dramatically lower perceived temperatures
- Carry enough water for the entire hike (hint: this may be more than you think)
- Stick with shorter hikes, so you don’t have to overload with supplies
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will return
- Have a reliable way to contact someone in an emergency
- Stay on well-traveled trails
Southern California offers some excellent summer hiking. While the best trails for warmer weather tend to avoid the deserts, you can safely take in mountain and coastal vistas and maybe even learn how to spot a whale during your SoCal trip.