Category archive for Trail Write-Ups

paramount-ranch

Hike Paramount Ranch

As a hiking area with entertainment industry cred, few places can match Paramount Ranch. Since 1927, this former ranch has stood in for dozens of locations in hundreds of movies, TV shows, and internet programs. Al Jolson and Gary Cooper were here, as were W. C. Fields, Mae West, and the Marx Brothers. This is where Bob Hope was “Caught…

read » May 27, 2015
cave-of-munits

Hike to the Cave of Munits

Native Americans had a long and rich history in Southern California well before Spanish settlers could ever be described as “fresh off the boat,” but unfortunately due to disease, dispersement, and development (along with some Mission-style romanticizing of the past), many Californians aren’t aware of the extent of their presence or depth of their culture. Some estimates put upwards of…

read » May 19, 2015
Photo by Scott Turner for Modern Hiker

Hiking the Boucher Hill Loop

The summit of Boucher Hill (pronounced booker) offers a panoramic view of most of San Diego County and a fair amount of Riverside and Orange County. These stunning views have a practical function in addition to an aesthetic one, as the State Park and National Forest Service conjointly operate the Boucher Hill Lookout Tower, which returned to service in 2012…

read » May 15, 2015
Old and New San Juan

Hiking the New and Old San Juan Trails Loop

Both the old and new San Juan Trails radiate westward from Blue Jay Campground in the Trabuco District of Cleveland National Forest through beautiful oak woodlands toward gorgeous coastal views. These parallel tracks are a popular route for mountain bikers wishing to take a downhill course from higher elevations in the Santa Ana Mountains down to the bottom of San Juan…

read » May 1, 2015
Sylvan Meadows

Hiking the Sylvan Meadows Loop

When you start looking into the evolutionary origins of the human species, you will inevitably encounter the theory that early hominids first “emerged” somewhere in the savannas of eastern Africa. A speculative aspect of this theory is that we have inherited through our earliest ancestors an innate preference for a specific kind of landscape. This landscape would feature open grasslands…

read » April 28, 2015
boney mountain

Hike Satwiwa to Tri-Peaks

Most readers of this site will no doubt be familiar with Boney Mountain. The high point of Boney mountain is Sandstone Peak, which is a focal point for some of the best hiking on the west end of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Mishe Mokwa Loop to Sandstone is one of the classics of SoCal hiking, and Modern Hiker has long touted it…

read » April 26, 2015
Willow Hole

Hiking Willow Hole

Some time around 100 million years ago beneath what is now Joshua Tree National Park, an upwelling of molten rock oozed towardthe Earth’s surface. As the rock cooled, it formed a vast block of intrusive (beneath the surface) igneous (from the Latin ignis, meaning “fire”) rock. Such  blocks of igneous rocks – in this case, monzogranite – are referred to as…

read » April 23, 2015
Arch-Rock

Hiking Arch Rock to Grand Tank

Joshua Tree doesn’t fit the typical National Park mold of catering primarily to auto tourists.  However, what the park lacks in breathtaking roadside attractions it easily makes up for with a slow desert pace and numerous easy hiking trails to hidden treasures.  This hike takes you to Arch Rock, one of those just-off-the-road landmarks, and then continues on a short…

read » April 23, 2015
Pine City

Hiking the Pine City Trail

The trail to Pine City is often overshadowed by the more prominent Ryan Mountain Trail and the more accessible Barker Dam Trail. But I’ll let the secret out — this is one of Joshua Tree’s best hikes. It’s the perfect mixture of a casual desert walk filled with classic Mojave plants, a pinyon pine microclimate formed from large boulders and…

read » April 22, 2015
Haleakala

Hiking Haleakala Crater

If you are planning on going to Maui, or if you’ve ever been to Maui, chances are that you have a certain set of expectations about what your time there will be like. The Valley Isle is famous for its climate, perfect beaches, snorkeling, laid-back style of life, winding highways to sacred pools, and the kind of good living that…

read » April 19, 2015
South Kaibab Trail

Hike the Grand Canyon: Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim

The Grand Canyon is a massive gorge carved by the Colorado River into a high plateau in Northern Arizona. This iconic landmark is perhaps the most famous natural feature in the United States, and for many hikers, a trip into the canyon is a memorable, possibly even essential experience. While there is a fine network of trails that hug the relatively cool,…

read » April 15, 2015
Thunder Ridge

Hiking the Thunder Spring and Chimney Flat Loop

The Thunder Spring and Chimney Flat Loop is the second of a trio of short hikes within Palomar Mountain State Park. Each of these loops is included in a larger and more comprehensive loop through the park. However, since not everybody is keen on a nearly 9 mile loop, these smaller loops offer a more digestible “taste” of the park while visiting…

read » April 15, 2015
hacienda-hills

Hiking the Hacienda Hills

There are many popular and quite lovely trails in the Puente Hills Preserve – and it’s a place I highly recommend visiting, especially if you’ve overlooked this region for the San Gabriel or Santa Monica Mountains on your quest for Los Angeles area hiking. Of the trails I’ve done so far, however, this route in the Hacienda Hills stands out.…

read » April 10, 2015
powder-canyon

Hiking Powder Canyon

Lying partially in the Puente Hills Habitat Authority lands and partially in Los Angeles County’s Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park, this loop through Powder Canyon takes you through some beautiful woodland areas and into a canyon cutting through the Puente Hills before turning around and climbing back over the hills. More popular with equestrians (there are centers and corrals at…

read » April 9, 2015
West Butte Borrego Mountain

Hiking West Butte Borrego Mountain and The Slot

I recently conducted an extremely non-scientific poll in a Facebook hiking group about why there aren’t more people out hiking in the desert. Right here in Southern California we have two of the most spectacular desert regions – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Joshua Tree National Park – in the country. The rich variety of experiences offers as much or…

read » April 6, 2015
worsham-canyon

Hiking Worsham Canyon

Less than a mile from the trailhead to the very popular (and often overcrowded) Turnbull Canyon lies the inconspicuous trailhead for the Elderberry Trail. It can be very easy to miss – the sign isn’t terribly visible from the road, it’s placed at a sharp hairpin turn, and odds are you won’t find many other cars parked there. But this…

read » March 26, 2015
natural bridges

Hike Natural Bridges National Monument

Well off the beaten-path, Natural Bridges National Monument may not be on your must-visit list of Colorado Plateau destinations, but it is definitely worth a visit. Declared in 1908, this small park system unit was the first National Monument in Utah – but was reachable only by three day horseback ride from Blanding, Utah until paved roads reached the area…

read » March 19, 2015
Culp Valley

Hiking the Culp Valley Loop

With some of the most developed and popular areas of Anza-Borrego State Park located around the town of Borrego Springs, many visitors find themselves driving down the winding, slightly terrifying, but always spectacular Montezuma Valley Road to reach their destination. This road drops over 3,000′ through the San Ysidro Mountains from the community of Ranchita to the main commercial area…

read » March 18, 2015
las virgenes canyon

Hiking Las Virgenes Canyon

This beautiful trek on the western edge of the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve differs greatly from the more popular routes starting from Victory Trailhead on the eastern end of the Open Space. Although they were both part of the same fairly recent land purchase and former Ahmanson Ranch, the eastern half of the Open Space is more…

read » March 16, 2015
Engelmann Oak Loop

Hiking the Engelmann Oak Loop

Escondido’s Daley Ranch packs a lot of natural beauty into its sprawling 3,200 acres. This city park features a number of moderate loops and out-and-back routes visiting a garden of granitic boulders, a series of old stock ponds left over from the days in which the property was both a cattle ranch and dairy farm, a trip up to Stanley Peak,…

read » March 12, 2015