Category archive for Trail Write-Ups


Hike the Devil’s Garden

The Devil’s Garden Trail is the longest and most difficult maintained trail in Arches National Park – and it’s also one of the most fun. Once you get past the early sections you’ll be scrambling up and over long, narrow sandstone fins (future arches!), ducking under and crawling through existing arches, and trekking through ruggedly beautiful backcountry that few of…

read » February 10, 2015
san mateo canyon

Hike San Mateo Canyon

Beautiful San Mateo Canyon lies in the heart of one of the few coastal California wilderness areas. This deep and rugged gorge occupies the southern third of the Trabuco District of Cleveland National Forest, and it protects one of the largest undisturbed watersheds in Southern California. The canyon’s remote location and relatively small number of visitors means hours (or days)…

read » February 9, 2015
Lost Horse Mine

Hike Lost Horse Mine in Joshua Tree National Park

Lost Horse Mine is a hardy relic of the California Gold Rush era and one of the best preserved mines found in Joshua Tree National Park. The history of the mine dates back to Johnny Lang, a rancher who bought the claim for $1000 in 1890. This mine was very successful, producing more than 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000…

read » February 5, 2015
pinyon ridge

Hiking Pinyon Ridge

This scenic, rugged ridge forming the southern boundary of Borrego Valley was once known for supporting a sparse woodland of pinyon pines and California junipers to the point that it received the name Pinyon Ridge. Prior to 2013, one could walk the length of this ridge to gain outstanding views south over the Cuyamaca, Volcan, and Laguna Mountains and north over Borrego…

read » February 4, 2015

Hike the Windows Loop and Double Arch

The Windows Loop is a relatively easy trail that sits in the southeasternmost section of the main paved road that runs through Arches National Park. It packs a lot into a short distance – in just over 2 miles you can see two of the largest Windows in the Windows Section of the park, along with the impressive Turret Arch…

read » February 2, 2015
split mountain

Hiking Split Mountain

With countless geological oddities including mud hills, wind caves, synclines, anticlines, and a deep cut straight through a mountain range, the Split Mountain/Fish Creek Wash region of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a geologist’s dream.  Even those with only a casual interest in geology will find no shortage of fascination on this varied hike, which visits everything mentioned above and…

read » January 29, 2015
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

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

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