13 Wonderful Hiking Trails in California [Update 2024]

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Beautiful mountains and dense forests are abundant in California, and it is also known as a paradise for hiking. Whether you want to go for a hike in the mountains in California or want to explore the natural beauty of California, going on a trip to the mountains is a fantastic option. For the hikers, California offers the best trials with magnificent beauty.

This list of the hiking trails in California consists of the best ones for hiking lovers.

1. Yosemite Falls Trail

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Yosemite Falls Trail is one of the most Wonderful Hiking Trails in California

Located in Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls Trail is one of the best trails for hiking. With its views of a spectacular waterfall, and its nine-mile round trip hike, this trail provides an amazing experience. The trail is divided into two sections.

The first part falls under a moderate hiking trail with a 1000 feet ascent. But, the second part is more challenging than the first. Through the rugged terrain, and steep staircases like hillsides, you have to diligently hike. The entire round trip along the trail will take approximately eight hours.

2. McWay Waterfall Trail

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McWay Waterfall Trail

The best place for photographing is McWay Waterfall Trail. This trail leads to Big Sur. The trails are decorated with dense forests and by the end of them, the ridges of 3000 feet fall off dramatically into the enchanting Pacific Ocean.

You can even camp in the two distinct walk-in campsites across the trail. As Big Sur has one of the best campgrounds, hiking in the area is amazing with panoramic views. You can stop to admire the ocean views or take a stroll on the beach. During the migration season, you might be lucky to spot whales as well from the shore.

3. Lassen Peak Trail

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Known as California’s hydrothermal superstar, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a fantastic spot to visit. The trail of this place is fantastic as well. No matter what the season, Lassen Peak Trail lets you enjoy a pleasant hiking experience with spectacular views.

The trial features areas of rare alpine plants, and you can even see evidence of glacial episodes. One of the best parts of hiking along the trail is seeing the terrain of volcanic eruptions.

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4. Gem Lakes Trail

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Known as the best hidden hike, Gem Lakes Trail is an impressive trail. The trial is through the high alpine covered ways of Little Lakes Valley. It will take about 5 hours to finish a roundtrip. On your way, you can see granite spires, beautiful meadows, stunning glacier-carved valleys and more.

Moreover, the sparkling blue lakes are wonderful to sit by and enjoy the serenity of nature. The trial’s views are picturesque, so don’t forget to snap some shots of the natural beauty of the area.

5. Murray Canyon Trail

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Murray Canyon Trail

One of the easiest trails on the list is the Murray Canyon Trail. With only 6 km of hike which will take about 3 hours, this trail is a hidden oasis hike. Nestled at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains, the trial lets you enjoy the beauty of the area near Palm Springs.

The area is covered with dense greenery and there are many makeshift log bridges to rest. If you are lucky, you might spot a bighorn sheep or mule deer on your hiking journey.

6. Boy Scout Tree Trail

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Located in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Boy Scout Tree Trail is a wonderful hiking trail for all types of hikers. Due to the dense redwood forest, the trip might seem exhausting, but in total, a round trip is 5.6 miles only. The area is filled with steep grades and giant trees, so you can enjoy sightseeing and photography as you hike along the trail.

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7. Lost Coast Trail

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Best known for backpacking and hiking, Lost Coast Trail is located at the bypass of 100 miles of rugged coastline. For pro hikers, this trial is a treat with its thrill and adventure.

You can trail through the wilderness and enjoy sightseeing. On the trail, you can also hike through a sandy hike when going by the Mattole Trailhead. For trekking and bird watching, the area is also perfect.

8. Pomo Canyon to Shell Beach

Only 75 miles away from San Francisco, a breathtaking view of the coastal scenery can be seen through the trails of Pomo Canyon. As you hike, you can climb through the lush redwood forest.

One of the best things about hiking along this trail is to see the colorful seasonal wildflowers that grow around the curves of the trial. A round trip through the trial takes about seven hours. Pomo Canyon also has campgrounds for enjoying a picnic.

9. Rubicon Trail

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For those who want to enjoy lake hiking, Rubicon Trail is the best option. The hiking is moderate level, and within 5 hours, you can enjoy a round trip. The quintessential Tahoe hike will calm your body and mind.

The dirt path along the trail is covered with pine trees and the lake is a wonder itself. Moreover, the astounding beauty of the lake and its cobalt water is enchanting. You can enjoy a swim after a hiking trip or sit by the lake to appreciate the serenity.

10. Temescal Canyon Trail

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With moderate level hiking, Temescal Canyon Trail is for those who want to hike while appreciating the beauty of Los Angeles. For about 5 miles round trip, you will take about 2 hours to hike.

The steam bed, seasonal waterfall and densely wooded canyon make hiking through this trail spectacular. If you want a shorter journey, you can take a detour to Skull Rock and explore the rock formations.

11. Mount Shasta

The majestic, snowcapped Mount Shasta is one of the most inspiring places to hike in California. Many visitors come to Mount Shasta seeking a spiritual experience in nature. Adventurous outdoor enthusiasts come for the challenge of climbing to the mountain’s summit. However, Mount Shasta has plenty of hiking trails that are suitable for the average hiker.

12. Sea Lion Point Trail in Point Lobos

The Sea Lion Point Trail winds around peaceful coves and rocky ocean bluffs, meeting with crashing waves that give hikers a chance to spot barking sea lions on offshore rocks. The trail also passes by Headland Cove and Sea Lion Cove, two quiet coves where seals swim, and sea otters bask in the protected waters.

13. James Irvine Trail at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

In Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, one of the Redwood National and State Parks in northern California that are jointly managed, hikers can enjoy some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees. This group of old-growth coastal redwood trees originated in an early woodland when dinosaurs still roamed the planet.

Whether you are a beginner level hiker or an advanced hiker, California offers you fantastic experiences. From this list of the top hiking trails in California, you can choose to explore any and have your own thrilling experience. 

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