Category archive for Trail Write-Ups


Hike Hazard Peak via Islay Creek

This loop hike takes you up the backside of Hazard Peak, via Islay Creek and the Barrance connector trail.  Since there is very little shade over these 9 miles it’s advisable to get an early start.  There are three distinct sections on this hike: a flat stroll up Islay Creek, a steep climb and ridge ramble on the Barrance Trail,…

read » November 11, 2014
Sitton Peak

Hike Sitton Peak

One of the better kept secrets in Southern California hiking is the presence of a large Federal Wilderness tucked between Ortega Highway, the semi-rural town of Fallbrook, and sprawling Camp Pendleton Marine Base. This wilderness protects the nearly pristine San Mateo Canyon watershed, which offers numerous hiking and backpacking adventures. Much of the wilderness is difficult to access due to…

read » November 10, 2014
Valencia Peak

Hike Valencia Peak in Montaña de Oro State Park

Valencia Peak is the 2nd highest point in Montaña de Oro and the most attainable.  This trail maintains a steady but comfortable grade over the 1150 ft climb to the summit, which makes it an approachable hike even for beginners. Start from the parking lot just south of Spooners Cove.  Turn left at the junction with Rattlesnake Flats Trail, one-tenth…

read » November 10, 2014
Quarry Cove

Hiking the Bluff Trail at Montaña de Oro State Park

Montaña de Oro’s Bluff Trail is a sanctuary of observation and discovery.  Visit this trail at different tides, times, and surf conditions for a variety of very unique and worthwhile experiences.  One day you might see surfers riding an incoming swell, and the next you may find thousands of tidepool creatures going about their business during a low tide.  Either…

read » November 7, 2014
Photo by Scott Turner for Modern Hiker

Hike San Onofre State Beach

Ordinarily, I don’t consider a walk on a Southern Californian beach to be a hike. Most of the time, SoCal’s beaches are highly developed both commercially and residentially. While the ocean view is always a wonderful outdoor experience, the rest of the scene remains squarely in the middle of civilization without any flora, fauna (outside of the seagulls), or other…

read » November 6, 2014

Hike Monrovia Canyon Falls

Monrovia Canyon Park is a small, 80-acre park that sits just outside the boundaries of the Angeles National Forest in the foothills of the San Gabriels – but don’t let its small size or city park status dissuade you from a visit. Monrovia Canyon not only features a year-round cascading 30-foot waterfall, but it’s also one of the loveliest riparian…

read » November 5, 2014
Los Pinos Peak

Hiking Los Piños Peak

Los Piños Peak is a prominent bump on  a ridge branching off of the main divide of the Santa Ana Mountains. This sparsely forested peak occupies prime real estate on the northern rim of San Juan Canyon, which allows for incredible views over a plethora of Southern California landmarks. This 5.2 mile out-and-back – 4.5 if you stop at the peak –…

read » November 4, 2014
Bernardo Mountain

Hike Bernardo Mountain and Lake Hodges

Bernardo Mountain is a prominent and easily accessible peak towering over the tranquil waters of Lake Hodges. Both landmarks play a starring role in this moderate 7+ mile peak-bagging excursion, which also features good views over the eastern half of the county toward the Peninsular Ranges in addition to the Del Dios Gorge carved out by the San Dieguito River.…

read » October 28, 2014
Wooded Hill

Hike Wooded Hill

The Laguna Mountains Recreation Area offers a massive network of trails that allows the hiker to piece together tremendous loops encompassing soaring desert views, cool pine forests, vast meadows, and rugged hillsides. But not every worthwhile hike in the Lagunas is an epic, nor is every worthwhile hike directly connected to the network. The most notable exception is the nature…

read » October 21, 2014
monument peak

Monument Peak via Desert View Picnic Area

Rising up like a 6,000′ tall frozen wave threatening to crash over Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Laguna Escarpment features some of the most spectacular views anywhere in Southern California. The Pacific Crest Trail runs along the edge of this escarpment while offering access for numerous side trails to some of the 6,000′ peaks dotting the highest part of the…

read » October 17, 2014
guatay mountain

Hike Guatay Mountain

Weighing in at 4,875′, Guatay Mountain comes a few hairs and a stepstool short of being counted into the 5,000′ club like its nearby siblings in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Unlike these other nearby peaks, Guatay Mountain boasts one of the last remaining old growth populations of Tecate cypress, a now rare tree that was once far more common prior…

read » October 16, 2014
Kwaay Paay Peak

Hike Kwaay Paay, Mission Dam, and Kumeyaay Lake

This choose-your-own adventure hike through the north section of Mission Trails Regional Park visits a rare patch of native grasslands, a dam constructed by Spanish missionaries, a short but sharp peak ascent, and a lake occupying what was once a military base. Any one of these destinations can make a satisfying hike on its own, but taken together they form…

read » October 15, 2014

Hike Parker Lake

Parker Lake is one of the smaller lakes near the June Lake Loop, but while foliage-seeking tourists will flock to the easily accessible aspen groves of June, Gulf, Silver, and Grant Lakes, for a tiny bit more effort hikers can enjoy the absolutely stunning views at the end of the Parker Lake Trail. There is a handful of trails I…

read » October 9, 2014
Convict Lake

Hike Convict Lake

Tucked into a magnificent granite bowl in the shadow of towering Mt. Morrison, colorful Convict Lake is one of the finest fall color hikes in the area between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes. This easy and mostly flat 3.3 mile loop hike around the lake’s shore offers views of the spectacular Sherwin Range rising up to the Sierra Crest before plunging…

read » October 9, 2014
Rock Creek Lake

Hiking Rock Creek Lake

If you’re looking to take a leisurely stroll along the shores of a lake past glowing fall color and transparent, deep blue waters, then Rock Creek Lake is an essential stopping point for your leaf peeping expeditions. This easy 1.6 mile trail alternates between access roads to the dock and the campground and an unofficial trail used by fishermen that…

read » October 8, 2014
big pine creek

Hiking the North Fork of Big Pine Creek

If you want to glimpse fall color, but you are also looking for an epic adventure up glacially carved canyons, past cascading waterfalls, through dense thickets of aspen and pine, and into an alpine lake basin full of shimmering, aquamarine lakes fed directly by one of the largest glaciers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, then the North Fork of Big…

read » October 7, 2014

Hike McGee Creek Canyon

The Eastern Sierra is a supremely photogenic region of California no matter what time of year, but in early fall when the aspen change color it can be especially tough to beat. McGee Creek – between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop just to the southwest of Lake Crowley – is an absolute must-hike at peak color. It’s difficulty is very manageable…

read » October 7, 2014

Hiking Sherwin Lakes

The Sherwin Lakes are a pair of subalpine lakes on the southern rim of the Long Valley Caldera, in which sits the town of Mammoth Lakes. These two small lakes also host several groves of aspens, which put on a vivid show of fall color from the middle of September to the middle of October. This moderate hike travels through…

read » October 6, 2014

Hike the Firebreak Trail to Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is one of the most popular attractions in Griffith Park and there is no shortage of ways to get to it. You can drive right up to it and brave the madhouse of free parking, take the Observatory Shuttle on the weekends, or travel on foot via a variety of trails or fire roads. There’s an approach for…

read » October 1, 2014

Hike the East Griffith Observatory Trail

There are probably dozens of ways to get to the excellent Griffith Park Observatory – one of the most popular attractions in Griffith Park. This route details just one of the well-traveled fire road routes that will take you to its beautifully restored doors. If you’re approaching the Observatory from below, there are two main trails most people take. Very…

read » October 1, 2014