Category archive for Trail Write-Ups

Gonzales Canyon

Hiking Gonzales Canyon

This moderate route through a trio of coastal canyons offers a nice respite from the crowded confines of suburban North County. Along the way, you’ll enjoy well-preserved stands of aromatic coastal sage-scrub before reaching an impressive grove of California sycamores along the banks of Gonzales Creek. In spite of coastal North County’s legendary beauty, hiking opportunities north of La Jolla…

read » April 25, 2016
monument valley

Visiting Monument Valley

Perhaps no other single location in the world is more uniquely identified with the American West than Monument Valley. These epic mesas and buttes have been etched into our collective memory over decades of films, television shows, and cartoons and in many ways now act as a visual shorthand for The West, but for many, many years they were ignored…

read » April 21, 2016
Mauna Kea

Hike Mauna Kea

The island of Hawai’i, colloquially known as the “Big Island,” features a number of remarkable extremes that set it apart not just from the other Hawaiian Islands, but from most other places throughout the world. Here is a place with barren volcanic deserts and lush rain forests receiving 240″ of rainfall a year separated by a few dozen miles. On…

read » April 20, 2016
Rabbit Peak

Hiking Rabbit Peak via Villager Peak

One of the most challenging hikes in Southern California. This ascent of a long, ramp-like ridge takes you first to Villager Peak and then, after much undulating, to the remote sky island of Rabbit Peak. The views are phenomenal, and the sunsets and sunrises can be once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Not for the faint-of-heart, and certainly only for experienced hikers, this is…

read » April 19, 2016
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Hike the Wahkeena / Multnomah Falls Loop

This is it folks, THE trail to do in the Columbia River Gorge (okay, well, I think so anyways). Have a day in Portland? Or, do you live in Portland and have somehow missed this one? Do this hike. I will admit: I have now lived in Portland for five months, and have consciously avoided this trail. The few times I’ve seen…

read » April 13, 2016
Barker Valley

Hiking Barker Valley

Barker Valley in the Cleveland National Forest is a place where you can truly get away from it all. This narrow valley full of massive oaks and tranquil meadows sits in one of the more remote corners of the Palomar Mountains. While the valley itself is too small to qualify for wilderness status, the area has a distinct “wilderness,” feel, making for…

read » April 11, 2016
Morongo-Mesquite Trail

Hike Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

When most people envision the desert, the first word that springs to mind is probably “dry.” Not so at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, a lush pocket of the brand new Sand To Snow National Monument tucked between the western edge of Joshua Tree National Park and the towns of Yucca Valley, Morongo Valley, and Desert Hot Springs. The canyon’s unique…

read » April 9, 2016
Johnny Lang Canyon

Hiking Johnny Lang Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park

The 6-mile loop through Johnny Lang Canyon is a great introduction for folks interested in getting into off-trail desert hikes. I enjoyed this hike, but there are long stretches of exposure and trudging through the desert, so I wouldn’t recommend it on a hot day. Even in mild weather it’s a good idea to get an early start — the…

read » March 24, 2016
San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek

Hiking San Gorgonio Mountain via the Vivian Creek Trail

In June of 2015, the Lake Fire burned its way through thousands of acres of forest contained within the San Gorgonio Wilderness area of San Bernadino National Forest. Several popular trails, including the South Fork Trail to San Gorgonio Mountain, are now closed as a result (as of July 2015), leaving some of the more popular routes to the mountain…

read » December 27, 2015
Lake Calavera

Hiking Lake Calavera

Carlsbad’s Lake Calavera Preserve features wetlands, a lake, coastal sage-scrub, and volcanic Mt. Calavera. This oasis tucked into the suburban sprawl of North County offers satisfying diversity for a hike this brief, as well as a few adventurous moments and surprises on the trail. This 3.2 mile lollipop loop visits the most interesting and attractive features of the preserve. The…

read » November 10, 2015
will thrall peak

Hiking Will Thrall Peak via Buckhorn

Will Thrall Peak is one of the most rugged, challenging, and remote peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains. An absolutely epic day hike no matter which way you choose to tackle it, your effort and perseverance will be returned in kind with equal doses of jaw-dropping beauty, peaceful solitude, and a profound connection with the seemingly-untouched wilderness of the high…

read » November 5, 2015
cooper canyon falls

Hiking Cooper Canyon Falls

Cooper Canyon Falls is a beautiful and relatively easily-accessed waterfall in the San Gabriel high country. Just off the Burkhart Trail outside of the deservedly popular Buckhorn Campground, this is wonderful short day hike if you’re camping in the region, a great introduction to the high country, or a quick stop-over on the longer route to Will Thrall Peak (or,…

read » November 5, 2015
Photo by Scott Turner for Modern Hiker

Hiking Canyon Sin Nombre

One of the advantages of being the largest State Park in the California while accounting for half (yes, half) of the California State Park system is that Anza-Borrego contains such a rich variety of geological wonders that you sometimes get the feeling that there is no end to it. In addition to the spring-fed oases at Mountain Palm Springs and…

read » November 2, 2015
Duck Lake

Hike Duck Lake

If you think sparkling aquamarine lakes and shimmering frosted peaks are the stuff of faraway epic adventures, you’ll be surprised at just how quickly you’re immersed in stunning scenery on this spectacular hike just a short drive from the bustling ski town of Mammoth Lakes, California. Your journey begins at the Duck Pass trailhead (elevation 9,128’), where you’ll find ample parking,…

read » October 28, 2015
IndianHeaven_7340

Backpack Indian Heaven Wilderness via Thomas Lake

While the pacific northwest is generally known and beloved for its epic vistas and high peaks, it is also home to countless wilderness areas offering unique environments, from newly formed volcanic zones to small and quiet meadows full of wildflowers. Indian Heaven Wilderness, located two hours from Portland within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest of southern Washington is one such…

read » October 26, 2015
Tuttle Creek Ashram

Hike To The Tuttle Creek Ashram

Mountains have long served as spiritual destinations for those seeking enlightenment. The pursuit of peace, solitude, and even the feeling of being elevated closer to the heavens draws people to heights near and far, from the Buddhist monasteries perched on China’s loftiest peaks to the myriad temples strung across the Himalaya. For those lacking in frequent flier miles, but seeking…

read » October 21, 2015
la tuna canyon

Hiking La Tuna Canyon

If you’re looking for a trail with a bit of that “off the beaten path” feel but still wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on civilization from its vista points, the La Tuna Canyon Trail is a good bet. This meandering 4.3 mile trail provides some decent elevation gain in sections and a surprising variety of scenery — from deep, shaded…

read » October 9, 2015
Long Lake outlet

Hike South Lake to Long Lake

Craving postcard-worthy Sierra views, but don’t have the time (or perhaps, the inclination) to haul a backpack deep into the wilds? Then you’ll likely enjoy this short, but insanely sweet jaunt to Long Lake via the Bishop Pass Trail out of South Lake, where you’ll find yourself almost immediately surrounded by massive granite peaks and shimmering alpine waters. While this…

read » October 8, 2015
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Hike Viejas Mountain

Viejas Mountain is a monster. It’s not a monster like El Cajon Mountain, which requires you to climb up and down and then back up and down again some more before it grudgingly gives up its stunning summit views. And, it’s not a monster like the Agua Tibia Loop, which assaults your poor knees and feet with endless miles before revealing its own…

read » September 17, 2015
Photo by Jenna Blough for Modern Hiker

Hiking Hungry Bill’s Ranch

Hungry Bill’s Ranch is located in Johnson Canyon, one of the most well-watered canyons in Death Valley. Its lush springs and perennial stream snake through soaring canyon walls leaving behind the rocky alluvial fan that spills from the canyon mouth down to Death Valley’s salty floor. A rocky 4WD road crawls up to the canyon mouth and trailhead and makes…

read » September 11, 2015