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Best trails in California

1,131,846 Reviews
Trying to find the best California trails? AllTrails has 10,386 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Whether you're looking for the best trails in Yosemite National Park or around Yosemite Valley, Oakland or Los Angeles we've got you covered. If you're looking for great California state park trails, check out Mount Tamalpais State Park. Or for some great local park options, check out Lake Poway Park near Poway or Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park near Pasadena. Ready for some activity? There are 5,213 moderate trails in California ranging from 0.6 to 349.1 miles and from -246 to 13,041 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
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Map of trails in California
Top trails (10386)
#1 - Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail
Yosemite National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(2888)
Length: 8.8 mi • Est. 5 h 1 m
Note: As of September 2020, The park has decided to reroute this trail and make a one way loop which starts shortly after the bridge below Vernal Falls and continues on the John Muir Trail after the top of Nevada Falls and back down to the bridge. Additionally, the trail has been reported closed between 7am-4pm during the week. During the winter months, portions of the John Muir Trail in Yosemite are closed. Visitors can still visit the falls, but you must return on the stairs, instead of returning on the John Muir Trail. Hike to two breath-taking waterfalls along Yosemite Valley's most popular hiking trails. If you only have time for one hike while in Yosemite look no further: the Mist Trail is the hike for you. It is no wonder why this trail is one of the most popular trails in Yosemite Valley. You will hike so close to 2 massive waterfalls that it will be very difficult to avoid the mist from the falls. The best time to hike this trail is in Spring or early Summer, while the snow runoff is high and the falls are full of water. The Mist Trail starts at Happy Isles trailhead (YARTS shuttle stop #16, and within walking distance of Curry Village and parking lot). After a brief stroll along the river, you climb a pretty steep initial accent until you reach the footbridge, which offers the first glimpse of Vernal Fall in the distance (and a water-fountain and restrooms). You will then continue up to Vernal Fall, past Emerald Pool, and alongside Nevada Fall until you reach the high-point for this hike. Then take the alternate route down along the John Muir Trail to see views of Nevada Fall and Liberty Cap in the distance before meeting back up with the Mist Trail near the footbridge. The route back is slightly longer, but offers a change of scenery and is easier on the knees. Before hopping back on the YARTS shuttle, treat yourself to some ice cream or a refreshing drink at the small stand, or head over to Curry Village for a larger variety of choices.Show more
#2 - Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail
Lake Poway Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(5584)
Length: 7.6 mi • Est. 4 h 2 m
One of the most popular trails for photo ops and scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, this steep and narrow hike up to Potato Chip Rock and Mount Woodson summit is a must-do for locals and visitors alike. Located in northern San Diego county, the Mount Woodson trailhead starts at the end of Lake Poway Road at Lake Poway and offers hikers, climbers and trail runners a challenging trail up to the famous potato chip boulder and Mount Woodson Summit. This is a great place for a good workout and training for long hikes and runs. This is a very exposed trail so please bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Lake Poway PARKING IS FREE during the week- (weekends and holidays it's $10.00 for non- Poway residents)Show more
#3 - Mission Peak Loop from Stanford Avenue Staging Area
Mission Peak Regional Preserve
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3278)
Length: 5.8 mi • Est. 3 h 47 m
Note from the East Bay Regional Park District: There is very limited parking at Stanford Avenue Staging Area. It is best to park at Ohlone College to access Mission Peak: 43600 Mission Blvd to Anza Pine Road. Enjoy the spectacular views of the South bay as you climb up to Mission Peak. Although steep, the views of the Bay Area are very rewarding. On a clear day hikers can see the skylines of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. This is a moderate to strenuous trail with a constant uphill climb until you reach the summit. The trail is a well maintained gravel base until the last half mile. From this point the trail is hard pack dirt and rocky. Difficulty would definitely increase during the rainy season. The Stanford Avenue staging area is also the western access to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, a 29-mile hiking and riding trail through some of southern Alameda County's most beautiful wilderness, and provides access to Mission Peak's 2,999 acres. Ensure that you have plenty of water before embarking on this hike, as there are very few spots to locate shade. The trail may be shared with equestrians, and dogs are allowed. There is no fee for parking, however on a busy day you may be required to park a little west, on one of the side streets. Dogs are allowed on leash in developed areas/under voice command in undeveloped areas of the park.Show more
#4 - Bridge to Nowhere via East Fork Trail
Angeles National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3127)
Length: 9.7 mi • Est. 3 h 53 m
This trail requires an Adventure Pass. This pass can be bought at many small shops in the area. Several hikers have reported getting ticketed when parking along the road leading up the the trailhead. Please note that although the area/bridge are private property, it is open to hikers. This trip takes you along the banks of the east fork of the San Gabriel River. While the river banks are wooded and quite lovely, most of the trail traverses the rim above the high water line and most of your travel is through scrub brush. The highlight of the hike is a mysterious bridge built over the east fork in 1936, which has no road leading to it. Actually, in the 1930's a road did lead to it, but was swept away by floods in 1938. There are some small trails that lead down to the stream just after you cross the bridge. This is a stunning setting with shear pink tinted granite walls, roaring cascades, and the lovely bridge in the background. Route can be a bit challenging with many day use trails mixed in with the main trail, washed out sections of trail, and over a half dozen stream crossings (bring waterproof boots even when the water is low). There are many swimming holes. The trail along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere is not only one of the best trails in the San Gabriel Mountains, but it's also one of the most unique hiking experiences you'll ever have. After you leave the crowded (and overused) trailhead area, you will increasingly find yourself awed by the rugged canyons deep in the Sheep Mountain Wilderness. Multiple river crossings and shaded glens await you on this trek, with the final destination a 130-foot concrete span bridge leftover from an attempt to build a road north through the canyon. Most of the road is gone now, but the bridge still stands - and is full of bungee jumpers on the weekends. A short trail down from the bridge leads to some top-notch swimming holes, making this a perfect hike on a hot, summer day. Plan on getting your feet wet and bring bug repellent.Show more
#5 - Alamere Falls via Coast Trail from Palomarin Trailhead
Point Reyes National Seashore
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1891)
Length: 13.8 mi • Est. 6 h 53 m
Alamere Falls is a tidefall waterfall that flows into the ocean in Point Reyes National Seashore, northwest of San Francisco in Marin County. This popular Bay Area coastal hike can be reached via the Coast Trail from the Palomarin Trailhead. The parking area can be accessed at the end of Mesa Road outside of Bolinas. The trail offers great views of the Pacific Ocean - including the Farallon Islands on a clear day - as well as Bass and Pelican lakes. This is a well-marked coastal trail to Alamere Falls. When you get to the falls walk just past the top fall, cross over it and down to the other falls. Beach access is on the right down a manageable but unstable cliff. Do not attempt to go down during high tide as the shale rock is slippery and rogue waves can drag visitors into the surf. Long pants and sleeves are recommended as Poison Oak does grow along the trail. The trail is maintained by the National Park Service so check out one of the visitor centers for additional information. Be careful not to miss the optional unmarked shortcut trail to the falls. It's about 4 miles up. There's a little rock climbing involved at the end. The climb down to the falls is not maintained by the National Park service. It can be very dangerous. Please be cautious and wear the correct clothing and shoes. Many people get hurt and have to be airlifted out because they can not make the hike back out.Show more
#6 - Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
Yosemite National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(2256)
Length: 7.6 mi • Est. 4 h 30 m
Enjoy the thrilling views of looking down from the top of Yosemite Fall. Yosemite Fall, dropping 2,425 feet to the bottom of the valley from the top, is one of the most visited places in Yosemite National Park. The fall consists of three sections: upper falls, middle cascade and lower falls. While most people visit lower falls only, upper falls is definitely worthy of visiting for its eye-opening views and hiker's self-satisfaction of reaching it. The trail to Upper Yosemite Fall is about 4 miles one way, gaining approximately 3,000 feet in elevation along the way. Once you get to the top of the valley, you can go to Yosemite Fall Overlook, a small platform near the mouth of Upper Yosemite Fall, to enjoy the thrilling views of looking down from above. The trailhead is located in the Sunnyside campground (Camp 4) near Yosemite Lodge. It generally takes 6 - 8 hours for average hikers to complete the roundtrip hike. The trail is generally open for the whole year, but can be difficult to hike in winter due to snow, especially beyond Columbia Rock. Show more
#7 - Iron Mountain Trail
Poway, California
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3728)
Length: 5.2 mi • Est. 2 h 50 m
One of San Diego's most popular hikes, the Iron Mountain Trail leads to the second highest peak in Poway and offers great views of Northern San Diego County. On a clear day hikers can see Mt. Woodson as well as the Catalina Islands. The hike takes place just west of the Boulder Oaks Preserve and the Iron Mountain trailhead is accessed just south of the intersection of Poway Road and CA - 67. There is no shade on this hike so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Mountain biking and horseback riding are permitted along the trail. Visitors can also access the Wildwood Mountain and Ellie Lane hiking trails from the Iron Mountain trailhead.Show more
#8 - Mount Tallac Trail
Desolation Wilderness
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(2257)
Length: 10.9 mi • Est. 6 h 23 m
There is parking alongside the street. A wilderness permit is required. You must purchase the permit before arriving to the Mt. Tallac Trailhead. Day hikers may pick up the permit at the self-service area. The jewel in the crown of mountains which ring Lake Tahoe, Mount Tallac promises unparalleled views from its summit 9,735ft above sea level. Unparalleled vistas await the Tahoe hiker on a memorable journey to this beautiful peak. This route takes you to the top via the most direct summer route through lush forest, along scenic ridgelines, past small alpine lakes and across blazingly colorful wildflower strewn high-altitude meadows. Sure the 3,500ft elevation gain is greater than you might experience on most day hikes, but both the journey and the destination are worth every single thigh-burning step. The summit is very rocky and can be confusing. Make sure you have a good understanding of your whereabouts so you can easily find your way back down. Sunscreen is a MUST. Totally exposed for long sections.Show more
#9 - Eaton Canyon Trail
Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3314)
Length: 3.5 mi • Est. 1 h 42 m
Visitors need a timed entry reservation to hike in this park. No same-day reservations or walk-ins allowed. Please visit the park site to reserve your spot or for more information: https://www.ecnca.org/ Eaton Canyon Trail is a relatively easy hike to a 40-foot waterfall with views of the San Gabriel Mountains and Santa Monica Mountains. Its proximity to Pasadena, Altadena, and Santa Monica make this a very popular trail for casual hikers in Los Angeles. The trailhead can get very crowded on the weekends and those hot California summer days - but it's worth a visit even if you have to fight through crowds - especially when spring wildflowers carpet the lower portions of the canyon floor of the Eaton Canyon natural area. There is also an excellent nature center at Eaton Canyon Park near the trailhead, with great exhibits and many free presentations for those who are interested. This family-friendly Southern California trail will be easy for most, although it gets more rugged the closer you get to the beautiful waterfall. The trail only has a few hundred feet of elevation gain, but there are several stream crossings and areas of boulder-hopping and rock climbing on the way to Eaton Canyon Falls. Nevertheless, this trail is manageable for most people.Show more
#10 - Vernal Falls
Yosemite National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(2372)
Length: 4 mi • Est. 2 h 16 m
The Mist Trail from its junction with the John Muir Trail (just above Vernal Fall footbridge) to the top of Vernal Fall is closed Monday–Friday, 7 am to 4 pm, for trail work (the trail may occasionally be closed overnight). Use the John Muir Trail for access to Vernal and Nevada Falls (and beyond). For more information, please see https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm Note: Due to public health and safety concerns, descending the Mist Trail steps from the top of Vernal Fall is prohibited from 9 am to 4 pm. To return to the trailhead, continue hiking uphill to Clark Point (500 feet additional elevation gain), then down the John Muir Trail. The trail from the top of Vernal Fall to Clark Point is a steep uphill climb and has no shade. For more information, please check here: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/vernalnevadatrail.htm. Yosemite National Park is open to those with reservations beginning on Thursday, June 11. See the park website for more info: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/covid19.htm Show more
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