Category archive for Trail Write-Ups

balanced rock

Hike Balanced Rock in Arches National Park

Just off the main road in Arches National Park sits Balanced Rock, a large boulder sitting atop a much narrower 55 foot column. The formation is a popular destination because of its central location, its unusual figure, and also as a pilgrimage site for fans of the outspoken outdoors author Edward Abbey , who lived near the formation when he…

read » January 26, 2015
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Hike Canyon View Loop in Whitewater Preserve

The bright, wide slash of Whitewater Canyon is a place of many treasures – well, the more natural kind, at least. From towering fanglomerate cliffs to the (sometimes) rushing Whitewater River, from the sandy desert floor to lush riparian greenery, this is a place unlike any other in Southern California. In 1939, the canyon became home to the Whitewater Trout…

read » January 22, 2015
stanley peak

Hike Stanley Peak

“You can tell who the old man is here.” That’s what the elderly gentleman on the trail said as he turned to see me gaining on him as we came up the Sage Trail toward Stanley Peak. The gentleman introduced himself to me as a 70 year-old retiree who had found himself gaining too much weight and was now walking…

read » January 21, 2015
mentryville mountains

Hike Mentryville Park

There are many reasons why California is what it is today – but you can argue that more than anything, two natural resources were instrumental in building the region and even making the land United States territory: gold and oil. Those who bemoan Southern California’s lack of preserved history need look no further than present-day Santa Clarita. To its east…

read » January 14, 2015
ChaparrosaPeakView

Hike Chaparrosa Peak

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead In our glittering world of megamalls and high-rises, the constant push for development has a profound impact on our relationship with the natural world. Unprotected wild lands continually recede in the shadow of towering…

read » January 13, 2015
Cheeseboro Canyon

Hike Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons

Please pardon this brief personal anecdote. I promise it is relevant to the hike. I spent a considerable part of my childhood and early adulthood living in Agoura Hills. During that time, I developed a pretty strong attachment to the place, even though I outgrew the specific charms of this quiet bedroom community by early adulthood. A regular feature of my…

read » January 12, 2015
hermit falls2

Hike Hermit Falls

Hermit Falls is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Southern California – a beautiful trail takes the hiker through the lower reaches of Santa Anita Canyon to the top of 30-foot tall Hermit Falls, where you can reliably find cliff-jumpers, swimmers, (and unfortunately, taggers) on warm weekends throughout the year. The trail itself is right next to our…

read » January 7, 2015
vista hermosa

Hike Vista Hermosa Natural Park

It is no secret that Los Angeles is a fairly park-poor city. In the Trust for Public Land’s annual rankings of the park access of major cities, Los Angeles consistently ranks low on the list. This year, we placed 45th – behind Dallas, Las Vegas, and Cleveland. Sure, we’ve got the Santa Monica Mountains and Griffith Park, but if you…

read » January 5, 2015
Cholla Cactus Garden

Cholla Cactus Garden

Welcome to Joshua Tree’s most dangerous hike!  It’s not rugged trails or exposed ridges that make this trail so treacherous; it’s the Teddy Bear Cholla that you need to watch out for.  Ironically this is exactly the reason why you should absolutely stop here and stroll through this casual 1/3 mile garden trail.  As you are walking be aware that…

read » December 11, 2014
Bow Willow Canyon

Hiking Bow Willow and Rockhouse Canyons

Bow Willow and Rockhouse Canyons, along with the two rugged trails that connect them, combine to form one of the more interesting and adventurous loops on the southern end of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In addition to the stark, scenic beauty of the canyons and ridges between them, this hike also features the historical oddity of an old rock line…

read » December 8, 2014
santiago peak and holy jim canyon

Hike Santiago Peak via Trabuco Canyon

We at Modern Hiker have been committing an egregious sin for far too long. We have brought you some of the best trails in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernadino County, and San Diego County. We’ve ventured far afield to the Sierra Nevadas, Utah, Arizona, and beyond to cover the best trails in the western states. And all along,…

read » November 26, 2014
Berlin Forest

Hike to Berlin Forest

Los Angeles, California and Berlin, Germany have been sister cities since 1967. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of that arrangement, the cities exchanged some local flora in 1990. Here in L.A., we got Griffith Park’s Berlin Forest – a small grove of pine trees above Griffith Observatory that may not feel much like a forest, but is still a lovely…

read » November 25, 2014
western canyon

Hike Western Canyon

If you like to hike up to the Griffith Observatory but are getting tired of the usual approaches and firebreaks, or if you’re just looking for a way to create a longer loop trail to destinations deeper in the park’s interior, then much-overlooked Western Canyon may be a nice addition to your Griffith Park experience. The trail at Western Canyon…

read » November 25, 2014
Guajome County Park

Guajome County Park

Guajome County Park is an oasis of marshes, creeks, ponds, and lakes tucked into bustling east Oceanside. The park offers several miles of trails, a campground, two day use areas with picnic tables and playground equipment, fishing, and hiking, all within 30 minutes of most of North County. While the rest of the county bakes during the summer, cool ocean…

read » November 25, 2014
glendale peak

Hike Glendale Peak

Glendale Peak is one of those hidden-in-plain-view gems: an easily reachable peak with stellar views that – for some reason – seems to go overlooked by most hikers who generally keep trudging past the short side-trail on their way to Mount Hollywood. But on a clear day, Griffith Park hikers can see sweeping vistas from the San Gabriels all the…

read » November 25, 2014
Morro-Bay

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