Category archive for Trail Write-Ups


Backpacking Yosemite’s Pohono Trail

  Have you ever been asked if you’d rather have the power of flight or the power of invisibility and found it difficult to decide between the two? With Yosemite’s Pohono Trail, you don’t have to choose – you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the famed Yosemite valley and beyond, along with the kind of solitude that makes you feel…

read » July 24, 2014
Photo by Scott Turner for Modern Hiker

Hike Mount Woodson

Of the four loosely defined geographic regions in San Diego County, the region between I-15 and the Peninsular Ranges probably gets the highest visitation and use. This is due to its accessibility to the heavily populated coast in addition to a wealth of different hiking opportunities. Many of the county’s iconic hikes, such as Iron Mountain, Mission Hills, Daley Ranch,…

read » July 22, 2014

Hike the Agua Tibia Loop in Cleveland National Forest

I don’t often like to get into comparisons between San Diego and our bolder, brassier, and eminently more congested neighbor counties to the North, but the one thing that San Diego County seems to lack in comparison with Los Angeles, San Bernadino, and Riverside Counties are those gut-wrenching, knee-busting, quad-scorching climbs into the higher elevations. It’s true that San Diego…

read » July 21, 2014

Hiking Tepozteco National Park

There aren’t too many places where you can find a trail that will kick your butt with elevation gain, bring you to the ruins of a 500-year-old religious complex, and drop you off right next to a market filled with unbelievably delicious, cheap, hand-made food but the village of Tepoztlán in the state of Morelos is such a place. Easily…

read » July 18, 2014

Hike Bell Canyon in Caspers Wilderness Park

When thinking about SoCal’s five major counties and their respective natural treasures, the one that always seems left out is Orange County. Not only is Orange SoCal’s smallest county, it is also its most thoroughly developed in terms of acreage devoted to man-made features. For anybody who has ever spent a long afternoon on the 405 in Costa Mesa, it might…

read » July 17, 2014

Hike Tahquitz Peak

Tahquitz Peak, sometimes known simply as “Tahquitz,” is a prominent peak crowning the South Ridge that hems Idyllwild into large bowl of Strawberry Valley. The peak features a National Forest fire lookout, and is the focus of Native American legend. The climb is a relatively moderate peak-bagging experience that offers tremendous views over the Inland Empire, the Desert Divide, the…

read » July 16, 2014

Hiking Cuyamaca Peak

Cuyamaca Peak is the second highest peak in San Diego County. It sits a mere 20 feet lower but is far more accessible than Hot Springs Mountain near Warner Springs. The peak’s 6,512’ summit is relatively modest compared to the behemoths in the San Gabriels, San Jacintos, and San Bernadinos. However, Cuyamaca has the honor of being the geographic center…

read » July 14, 2014

Hike Fish Canyon Falls

Fish Canyon Falls has been a somewhat elusive beast since I moved here. Because the mouth of the canyon is occupied by a Vulcan Materials quarry, access to the canyon’s famed three-tier waterfall has always seemed just a little bit too much trouble. You either had to hike on the one day a month the company would provide a limited…

read » July 3, 2014

Hike and Backpack San Bernardino Peak

Amidst the famous summits of the Los Angeles basin stands the oft-overlooked San Bernardino Peak. This relatively inconspicuous bump on the long ridge leading up to Mt. San Gorgonio’s summit is the first of the nine peaks in the “Nine Peaks Challenge.” Despite the fame given to its more famous “saintly” neighbors, Mt. San Antonio (Baldy), Mt. San Jacinto, and…

read » July 3, 2014

Hike the Navajo and Peekaboo Loops at Bryce Canyon

If you dropped yourself in three different places on the Colorado Plateau and started hiking, you could conceivably find yourself in three unbelievably different and beautiful types of terrain – but Bryce Canyon is definitely a world unto itself. Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon – it’s a group of huge natural amphitheaters that’s been eroded into strange formations, the…

read » July 2, 2014
King Gillette Ranch

Hike King Gillette Ranch

Nestled in the rolling hills south of Calabasas, the nearly 600 acres of King Gillette Ranch serve as the picturesque homebase for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. If the name “Gillette” sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably fought the good fight against unwanted hair – the famous razor company’s founder, the regally appointed King Camp Gillette, chose this…

read » July 1, 2014

Hike Clevenger Canyon

Just past the city of Escondido, Highway 78 winds through citrus-clad San Pasqual Valley before emerging in the narrow confines of Clevenger Canyon. This canyon has been carved out over the eons by generally placid but occasionally violent Santa Ysabel Creek, which drains the Volcan Mountains before snaking its way through San Diego’s northern backcountry. The canyon boasts the San…

read » June 30, 2014

Hike Wild Flower Hill at the Theodore Payne Foundation

I’m not gonna lie – the Theodore Payne Foundation is one of my new favorite things about Los Angeles. Founded in 1960 to continue the work of horticulturist Theodore Payne, who ran nurseries and seed stores in downtown Los Angeles in the early 1900s. Although he immigrated here from England, Payne devoted his career to the education, propagation, and discovery…

read » June 26, 2014

Hike Torrey Pines Reserve Extension

Torrey Pines Reserve Extension is an addendum to the more famous and more heavily visited main reserve. This little-known pocket of wilderness in the midst of ultra-high value homes is widely overlooked, except by local residents. Located north of the Penasquitos Lagoon – opposite the main reserve – this diminutive parcel of land features mature trees, some of which are…

read » June 25, 2014

Hiking Los Peñasquitos Canyon

  Recently, I played a game on a hiking group on Facebook called “Can you name this spot?”. I would show a picture and elicit other hikers to identify the location. When I posted a photograph of Carson’s Crossing in Los Peñasquitos Canyon, one of the hikers stated “The Florida Everglades.” How on Earth does one confuse semi-arid San Diego…

read » June 24, 2014
Santa Rosa Plateau

Hike Santa Rosa Plateau

Long ago, much of the flat areas of Southern California were covered with endless grasslands punctuated by several different types of oaks, including coast live oaks, valley oaks, and Engelmann oaks. These flatlands included much of the Los Angeles Basin through the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire. Further south, the grasslands stretched across the vast coastal plains of Orange County…

read » June 23, 2014

Hike Limekiln State Park in Big Sur

When I was initially doing some recon on places to visit during an extended camping trip through Big Sur, a few friends highly recommended little Limekiln State Park – a 716 acre slice of Big Sur just outside the Ventana Wilderness. I’m glad they did – because on paper this park doesn’t look like much of a destination. Hiking all…

read » June 19, 2014

Hiking Batiquitos Lagoon

North Coastal San Diego County – more popularly known as “North County” while managing to exclude everything east of the 15 and north of the 56 – contains some of the nicest places to live in Southern California. There are beaches, safe neighborhoods, good schools, great yoga studios, and shopping galore. However, what North County does not have a lot…

read » June 16, 2014
redwoods on the Ewoldsen Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Hike the Ewoldsen Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Let’s face it – the big star of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is clearly McWay Falls. It’s an easy walk to a jaw-droppingly gorgeous coastal waterfall that draws photographers and tourists from all over the world … but that doesn’t mean the park doesn’t have other gems to offer. The Ewoldsen Trail is located just a few steps away…

read » June 12, 2014

Hiking Cedar Creek Falls

On July 5th, 2011, a 16 year-old man died after falling 80 feet into the swimming hole at Cedar Creek Falls. Two days later, the trail from Ramona was closed and remained closed for two years. On July 9th, 2012, a 19 year old woman was found unconscious on the Cedar Creek Falls Trail approaching from the Julian side. After…

read » June 10, 2014