Lauren and Sheila hike and run for different reasons, at different paces and sometimes prefer different places. Lauren likes to take her time and go slow – stopping along the way to take in the scenery. Sheila can often be found running through the woods as fast as her heart (and aging legs) will allow her. Lauren’s the compass. Sheila frequently gets lost. But, no matter if you’re a tortoise or a hare, nature has something for everyone.
In the future we’ll be highlighting some of our most favorite hikes, but to get you started, here are a few “local” parks/trails to try out.
- Whiting Ranch: Red Rock Canyon
- Out and back
- Distance: 4.2 miles
- Elevation gain: roughly 400 feet
- Why we love this one: When you pull up directions to the trailhead and end up parking adjacent to a strip mall parking lot, you might think you’re in the wrong place. But only 3 minutes on the trail, you ditch the suburbs to find a hike perfect for families, newbies, kids, or for a run if you’re into picking up the pace. It’s relatively flat, easy, and accessible and the amazing sandstone formations at the end of the trail make you feel like you’ve been momentarily transported to Arizona. As an added perk, right across the street from the parking lot is a little cafe called Bellaria Coffee House, which makes for a great coffee, smoothie or sandwich break after.
- Aliso Canyon & Top of the World
- Distance: can vary depending on the trails/loops you choose
- Why we love this one: So many options, so little time. The trail maps at the entrance and throughout the park are color coded based on difficulty of the trail so you can easily customize your hike to your level. There are plenty of hidden gems throughout the park such as caves (take Dripping Cave Trail) or an old rusty cars (take Car Wreak Trail) to go explore. Also, this park is located right in between Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo making a post- hike snack, drink or a dip in the ocean easy to come by.
- Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Distance: again it varies
- Why we love this one: The majority of time when we hike here there really isn’t a plan, just pick a trail and go. Now, this isn’t entirely recommended unless you’re for sure doing an out-and-back (you head one direction, you turn back and follow the proverbial bread crumbs back to your starting point). Just ask Lauren how her impromptu loop by herself went last year- let’s just say it ended with a 2 mile walk up Laguna Canyon Road as cars went zipping by. You can also take the kiddos to the Nix Nature Center (18751 Laguna Canyon Road) for some interactive learning.
Los Angeles County
- Lauren has hiked pretty much of all of the Santa Monica Mountains and pretty much all of the major hikes in Malibu/Santa Monica. To choose a favorite was nearly impossible. The truth in you really can’t go wrong here, just pick a hike and get outside.
- Why we love this area- There are amazing waterfalls (Escondido Falls) or breathtaking views of the ocean (try La Jolla Canyon) or for a challenge with great views of south Ventura County/ North LA county try Sandstone Peak.
- For a VERY comprehensive list, including distances, elevation gains, and pictures, check out Hikespeak.com to find the perfect hike for you.
San Diego County
- Cedar Creek Falls (Note: You need a permit for this hike. You can get it here).
- Out and back
- Distance: 5.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 935 feet
- Why we love this one: This one requires a little planning – permits, packing lots of water, and no, it’s not the easiest hike. You need to plan around the right time of the year to catch not only max waterfall action, but to also not want to (or literally) die from the heat. Parts of this trail are in the hot desert sun and totally exposed. That said, with the right planning it’s a fun and pretty hike for not only you, but your pup too (just be very cautious with Fido, dogs can get heat stroke too). In SoCal, waterfall hikes can be REALLY crowded and due to the permitting (and yes they check for them before you hit the trailhead) it’s not as crowded as many others would be.
There are so many hiking options in SoCal you may be thinking, ‘where do I even start?’ Glad you ask! Let us guide you the some of the best guides…
A few tricks to find a good hike:
- Social Media Savvy. If you know the areas you want to hike in, follow outdoor blogs, Instagram accounts, or even Facebook groups where folks who are in the area regularly post pictures and reviews to give you ideas on where to look.
- Database it Up. Search databases to find a good hiking site. These databases will usually give you a nice overview of what you’re looking at in terms of length, parking, etc.
- Search the Blogs. Once you’ve pinned down a few locations, search local blogs. If you’re like Sheila and get lost in your thoughts and regularly wander into the wilderness, blogs with photos and additional detail help significantly. Sometimes you find the most unique tips there (i.e. don’t park on the right side of the road because they ticket, if the parking lot is full at the trailhead go to XYZ, use the bathroom somewhere else before you get there…all valuable nuggets of information)
- Ask the Locals. If all else fails – ask the locals. There are a few gems we’ve found along the way (hot springs, short hikes, waterfalls) that are not going to be found on the internet anywhere and can only be found by “taking a left at the big triangular rock, right by the white fence, if you hit the green spray painted rock, you’ve gone too far” type directions.
Here are some of our favorite blogs/websites that have helped tremendously in planning many adventures-
- SoCal Resources
- SoCal Hiker – Includes maps, searchable database by specific criteria (can you bring fido?, length, etc.). This website has gotten us through many a trips and has given us good insight along the way so thank you Mr. SoCal Hiker
- Nationwide/Regional Resources
- All Trails – Has an awesome nationwide searchable database. On the plus side if you’re planning a road trip you can easy search by clicking on your park.
- Modern Hiker – Hiking guide based. This blog is always very details with lots of pictures and great tips.
- Hikespeak – as mentioned earlier, this site has a great list of hikes in Malibu but it has a ton of hikes all over the country as well.
Of course, you can always email us from our contact page if you need more information! Happy Hiking!!