Category archive for Trail Write-Ups


Hike the Observatory Trail

Beyond its beautiful forests and meadows, Palomar Mountain is most famous for its Observatory. Established in 1928, the Palomar Observatory contains several telescopes, including the 200” Hale Telescope, which is open for visitation from 9am to 4:30pm. The campus, which is beautiful in itself, is operated by the California Institute of Technology. More importantly though (at least for our purposes),…

read » August 28, 2014
Point Loma Lighthouse

Hike the Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument occupies the southernmost tip of Point Loma and includes a monument and historical information dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (“discoverer” of California in 1542), well-preserved historical landmarks including the old Point Loma lighthouse, military buildings used as part of Southern California’s defense system during World War 2, tide pools, and the 2.2 mile Bayside Trail. This area…

read » August 24, 2014

Hike the Vital Link Trail in Wildwood Canyon to Verdugo Mountain

Just across the L.A. River Basin from Griffith Park, lie the Verdugo Mountains, a small member of the fault-created east-west Transverse Ranges. Like Griffith Park, the peaks and valleys of the Verdugos provide a variety of outdoor activities to the residents of Glendale, Burbank, and the Valley neighborhoods on its northern boundaries – but unlike Griffith Park, this small range…

read » August 22, 2014
Cowles and Pyles

Hike Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak

Cowles Mountain is hardly a secret to San Diego hikers. This easily accessible, moderately challenging peak can be reached from several different directions, and it offers the best views (marine layer permitting) of downtown San Diego county. In fact, the peak is the dead opposite of a secret, as the summit can be crowded with visitors at any given time…

read » August 20, 2014

Hike Teotihuacan National Park

If you’re even remotely interested in history, Mexico City has something for you. The site has been inhabited by advanced civilizations since 1325 and by the time the first Europeans stumbled into the region, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan had somewhere between 100 and 200 thousand people living within its fully planned borders. However, just north of Tenochtitlan, the even more…

read » August 12, 2014

Hike Portuguese Bend Reserve to Sacred Cove

If you dream of traveling to Big Sur, but don’t want to load the mileage on your car, here’s your consolation prize: a local getaway to sweeping ocean vistas, towering craggy cliffs, and churning teal seas via a six-mile round trip from the top of Palos Verdes’ Portuguese Bend Reserve to sea level at Sacred Cove. Visible from high points…

read » August 11, 2014

Hike Alta Peak and Alta Meadow in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest comprises an area of about 1,800 acres and features many of the park’s main attractions, including Sherman Tree, Congress Trail, Crescent Meadow, and Moro Rock. Add to this about 3.8 miles of trail leading to Tokopah Falls, and the attractions most visitors to Sequoia National Park see can be contained within about 2,200 or so acres. However, Sequoia…

read » August 8, 2014

Hike Monarch Lake and Sawtooth Pass in Sequoia National Park

If you are looking for creative ways to torture your quads, calves, and hamstrings, have I got the hike for you. Sawtooth Pass (and its eponymous peak) offers the chance to climb nearly straight up a 45 degree slope through scree so loose that it could double as styrofoam packing peanuts – while hiking in full sun with no tree…

read » August 7, 2014

Hike Eagle Lake in Sequoia National Park

One of the great things about Mineral King Valley is that it allows some of the easiest access to Sierran high country on the western end of Sequoia National Park. From the Eagle-Mosquito Trailhead, which is just a hair shy of 8,000’, there is access to three separate glacially carved valleys – Eagle, Mosquito, and White Chief, containing the kinds…

read » August 7, 2014

Hike White Chief Bowl in Sequoia National Park

White Chief Bowl is a large glacial bowl tucked into the back of colorful White Chief Canyon. Here, you will find meadows, streams, a small tarn, and a handful of backcountry campsites. The area has a long history of mining, and large outcrops of beautiful white marble are abundant throughout the hike. In addition to the mining history, the area features…

read » August 7, 2014

Hike the Cold Springs Nature Trail in Sequoia National Park

One of the most beautiful trails in Mineral King is also one of the most unassuming. The Cold Springs Nature Trail travels through lush meadows and stands of aspen and cottonwood near the banks of the East Fork River. Despite being only 1.25 miles from the Cold Springs Campground to the Eagle-Mosquito parking lot, Cold Springs has a lot to…

read » August 6, 2014

Hike Round Meadow and Beetle Rock in Sequoia National Park

The Big Trees Trail, Beetle Rock, Beetle Rock Family Nature Center, and the Giant Forest Museum form a complex offering informative and interpretive hikes, a review of local human and natural history, and a fantastic, kid-friendly spot to enjoy a classic Sierra sunrise. All of these landmarks are found nearly adjacent to one another, and a short hike can tie…

read » August 6, 2014

Hike the Congress Trail in Sequoia National Park

If you were to find yourself in Sequoia National Park, and you only had the time or inclination to take one hike and one hike only, then the Congress Trail would be your hike. This trail, which features the world-famous Sherman Tree and many other astonishing sequoia specimens, offers a gentle, easy-to-follow three mile loop through the heart of the…

read » August 6, 2014

Hike East Fork Grove in Sequoia National Park

If one were only to travel to Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, one would believe that the sequoia groves of the Sierra Nevada mountains were all large, easily accessible, beautiful preserved, and largely free of man-made tragedies. Sadly, this is not the case, as many of the range’s sequoia groves have encountered long periods of unfettered abuse through logging…

read » August 5, 2014

Hike Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park

Moro Rock is a granite exfoliation dome that protrudes over Kaweah Canyon on the edge of Giant Forest. The exceptionally well-engineered trail is carved into the rock, often meandering through tight spaces over stairs before emerging at the top of the open, viewful summit. From the summit, one can see the hazy San Joaquin Valley, Kaweah Canyon, the Great Western…

read » August 5, 2014

Hike Tokopah Falls in Sequoia National Park

  One of the most popular hikes in Sequoia National Park does not feature any sequoias at all. Instead, it offers a serene stroll up a glacial valley to a 1,200 foot cascading waterfall that fills a large granite amphitheatre with a hearty roar. Along the way are numerous tranquil scenes of the Kaweah River framed by conifers against a…

read » August 5, 2014

Hike the Trail of the Sequoias

Aside from the Big Trees, the most striking features in Giant Forest are the meadows. In various locations, a natural barrier near a relatively flat bit of land causes a stream or several streams to  meander sluggishly, creating a marsh that is too soft and unstable to support tree growth. This creates large, open spaces with to the high concentration…

read » August 4, 2014

Hike East Mesa in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

  Cuyamaca Rancho State Park contains a massive and varied landscape featuring a variety of outdoor experiences. The park includes forested peaks, tranquil lakes, river valleys, rugged chaparral covered slopes, numerous springs, and gentle, rolling mesas studded with pine trees. Of the two “mesas” in the park, East Mesa is the largest and most beautiful. The mesa offers great views of…

read » July 31, 2014

Hike Lake Cuyamaca and the Stonewall Mine

On the north end of sprawling Cuyamaca Rancho State Park lies a lovely man-made lake set next to a shady pine and oak forest. Nearby sits the site of San Diego County’s most productive gold mine. This easy hike with low distance and mild inclines connects the two and features great scenery, history, and proximity to water, making this one…

read » July 30, 2014

Hike Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park

Just a short drive or bus trip away from the crazy-charming city of Taxco lies one of the largest cave systems in the world. It’s protected by the Parque Nacional Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, which is also home to the cave system Grutas de Carlos Pacheo as well as several rock climbing routes and a small native garden, a swimming pool,…

read » July 29, 2014