Best Hikes In Southern California

Hiking in Southern California for Vacationers, Locals, and Adventurers

I LOVE hiking! It is one of my favorite ways to get some friend time in while still exercising and having fun! I am always convincing my friends and family to join me on hikes. Luckily I live in California where the weather almost always permits a hiking day. Below are the 5 best hikes in Southern California (in my opinion). 

1. Dartmoor hike in Laguna Beach, CA

Dartmoor Hike: Best Hikes In Southern California Yoga_ky

Best Parts:

Laguna Darmoor Hike Kylan Fischer

● Free Parking!

● Easily accessible

● Coastal views that are to die for!

● Basic trail (not too challenging if you are a beginner)

Worst Parts:

● Nothing! 

To Bring

● Hiking shoes

● Your camera

● Maybe a bathing suit for a quick dip in the ocean after.

This hike will take you a little over an hour(from top to bottom) but because it is such a local favorite there will be a bunch of locals hiking with you to cheer you on and show you the way if you get lost. The hike begins on Dartmoor street which is about a 5 minute drive if you are coming from the Laguna Beach lifegaurd tower. The hike basically just goes up  and curves left until you reach the top and is super easy to follow. The views are completely breathtaking, if you aren’t much of a hiker at just .25 miles for this view is well worth the sweat on your brow I promise! The lookout point at the top even has a bench for you to sit down on an enjoy the views of not one but all of the beaches in Laguna!

2. Skyline Rope Trail in Corona, CA

Skyline Rope Trail Corona: Best Hikes In Southern California Kylan Fischer

Best Parts:

● Free parking (if you can find a spot)

● Right off the road and the sign makes it pretty easy to find

● Beautiful views

● Honestly, nothing beats the feeling of when you’ve completed this hike, nothing!

Worst Parts:

● Can be very challenging (bring a buddy if you are not an experienced hiker)

● Depending on the weather it’ll either be muddy or super sandy.

To Bring:

● Gloves (preferably with grip)

● Wear leggings (you’re really in the wilderness so you don’t want to scrape any bare skin!)

● Backpack with tons of water (my sisters and I bring the camelback ones with the water mouthpiece which makes it easy and fun)

● High socks so your ankels don't get scratched.

● Pocket knife and pepper spray because safety first.

● Hiking shoes

● Your camera

This hike will test you to the max. The first few times I did this hike I was so tired after but for some reason I kept going back. The reason is that the feeling of getting to the top of this mountain is indescribable. The endurance it takes to complete this hike is one that you should work up to because boy it’s hard. With rock climbing (which I love) and occasional slipping due to mud or sand this hike will be rough but it is so worth it. You want to go on this hike with someone who has done it before because the entrance is hard to find depending on the time of year you go and there are no signs for this uphill climb. There may be some previously hung ropes that you encounter but I love to challenge myself and climb without the ropes. I do this hike so much because I live so close but with all the recent fires it is currently closed! I feel like I must distribute a Smokey the Bear themed reminder that care will prevent 9 out of 10 of all forest fires!

3. Escondido Falls in Malibu, CA

Escondido Falls Hike Review Southern California

Best Parts:

● Super naturey like its right out of a national geographic photo


● Great way to workout and then cool down

Worst Parts:

● SPLASH ZONE (this is only a bad thing if you don’t like getting wet)

● Rough start of blacktop (but it’s only for about 200 ft and I promise it’s worth it)

● The falls might be dried up unless you go after it rains. 

To Bring:

● Hiking shoes

● Bathing suit if ya wanna go for a dip after

● Water, water, water (unless you wanna drink some from the falls!

This hike is absolutely beautiful and is easily one of the prettiest destination hikes in Southern California because nothing beats a 50ft waterfall. The hike itself is around 3.8 miles and climbs uphill for .75 miles of it, but it’s so nature filled the whole way up you won’t even notice! Everything is lush and green, you wouldn’t even think about the drought when you experience this hike. This hike is all about following the signs once you reach Edward Albert Canyon Trail you will find the signs that lead you up the trail. While this one similar to skyline does require a little more endurance this one could be done both individually or as a group! This hike is super beautiful, I recommend this more for families looking for a fun thing to do over summer!

4.Castle Rock in Big Bear, CA

Castle Rock Hike Big Bear: Best Hikes In California

Best Parts:

● So much nature literally before you even begins it surrounds you right off the main road

● Views of Big Bear lake itself (but be careful cause it’s super high up!)

Castle rock hike: Best Hikes In Southern California: Big Bear

Worst Parts:

● Always pretty crowded

● Shorter than the other hikes

To Bring:

● Hiking shoes

● Courage- Because you will have the opportunity to climb up huge rocks for an awesome view if you're not scared of heights. 

● Water (always)

● Pepper spray and pocket knife

The best thing about this hike is that it’s super easy to find and because it’s usually crowded there should be a good amount of people climbing up with you. This is one of the shorter and easier hikes so if you are a beginner this is the one for you! The hike itself is so integrated with nature that you feel more like you are exploring than hiking. The trail takes you up and around, just follow the signs. There are visible animals on this hike and the call of the wild is all around you so bring all the necessary survival gear (but I doubt you’ll need them!). The only downside is if you are scared of heights maybe this hike isn’t the right one for you, the best place to view the lake is from this super steep rock (i.e castle rock), the view is fine from on solid ground but it’s not as fun if ya know what I mean.

5. Potato Chip Rock in San Diego, CA

Potato chip rock

Best Parts:

● Super cute photo location (good for the gram)

● Well marked

Worst Parts:

● Super crowded (there was a 30-minute line to take the photo on the rock)

● No shade (more of a desert hike)

To Bring:

● Water, there is no shade you’ll need it

● Hiking shoes

● Sunscreen!

● Camera

I did this hike on New Years and I really think I would have enjoyed it more if I had gone just a little earlier. The hike was super crowded, not to mention it was so hot and there was absolutely no shade at all. This hike is the definition of a California desert, it was so hot, I just can’t. The gate opens at 6 am so if I could do this hike again I’d go around that time and beat all the crowds. It’s around a 40ft fall off the top of the rock so don’t do anything too risky that you may fall out of, one wrong gust of wind in a handstand and its kind of over for you. But it’s completely iconic and 10/10 would do again, just super early in the morning!

Do you have any favorite hikes in Southern California I should add to my list?! 

If so, comment below!