No other state can bring you what California brings you. Large snowy mountains, dry stretching deserts, beautiful beaches, and forests thick with life; all within a few hours of each other. That's California. The hiking follows that. Snowy trails or dry paths. Brisk walks or difficult hikes. California has anything and everything you might be interested in.
The Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is a nigh 30 mile trail that starts in the Santa Cruz Mountains and ends at the Pacific Ocean. The trail takes you through Castle Rock State Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Castle Rock is known for its unique rock formations that attract a lot of rock climbers, and for its massive and mostly untouched forests. Big Basin is the oldest state park in California and is known for its prolific and ancient Redwoods.
While this trail can be taken from the ocean towards the deep woods, most people experience it the other way, giving it its namesake. Along with that, there is something about finishing your hike to be greeted by a massive blue ocean that makes it seem more majestic. Starting off at the Saratoga Gap, you'll mostly just be following a highway for the first 1/3 of the trail. Rather unimpressive, but keeping going, it's worth it.
Next you will enter Castle Rock State Park. As stated before, Castle Rock boasts some very appealing and unique rock formations. Many people here will explore parts of the park and come back to the trail later. Castle Rock has 32 miles of hiking trails that crisscross and lead you across miles of redwoods, douglas-fir, and madrone forests. There are numerous places that you can find here to camp, too, to continue your hike later.
After Castle Rock you will find yourself in the looming and massive Redwoods of the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Founded in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods has over 80 miles of hiking. The trails lead your through these ancient trees, making for an amazing environment, full of wildlife like coyote, fox, deer, bobcats, and even mountain lions. There are even waterfalls deep in the wilderness. Overnight camping is a breeze in the park, as there are numerous campsites that only come close to capacity during the popular days in the summer.
As you finish your hike you will find yourself at Waddell Beach, the end of your hike. The send off this beautiful beach offers is a perfect way to relax and reflect on your hike and time on the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail.
Sturtevant Falls Trail
A short distance from Los Angeles you'll find the Sturtevant Falls Trail; a short but beautiful 3.25 mile hike. The trail is rather popular for folk looking to get away from the grind of the city and get lost for a while. This trail is great for kids or neophyte hikers.
From the parking lot at Chantry Flats, you'll take an easy walk on paved roads to Robert's Camp. After Robert's Camp follow the Gabrielino Trail which will lead you to the falls. The walk is very peaceful across the creek. After the creek is the falls, a 60 foot beautiful waterfall that seems 100 years away from the nearest city. The water here is beautiful and crisp. The rolling sound of the waterfall is comforting and unabated. The hike doesn't have to end here, you have numerous places you can go to extend the hike.
Mount Diablo's Grand Loop
Mount Diablo's Grand Loop is a moderate, half day affair located in Contra Costa County, California. Mount Diablo is a 3,864 foot peak that is visible across most of the San Francisco Bay Area. The hike itself is about 6.5 miles long and rotates clockwise around the mountain, gaining in elevation fast, until you reach the summit.
Downside to the hiking around Mount Diablo is that cars can also reach the top, some find that after hiking for six hours to reach the top to only be greeted by people stepping out of their cars was a little unpleasant. But I feel like it's better that way. Due to the nature of the trails around Mount Diablo, you can easily make your hike your own, scurrying up this path, cutting across here, looping around there. As you continue your own hike and find fields of beautiful, vibrate flowers, unique rock formations, and massive trees, you see that taking this path, your own path, makes the view at the top all the better, the more special, that others will never experience.
From the relaxed three hour walk, to the mountainous and lengthy three day hike, California has something for every hiker, for every family, for every day. If you want snowy hikes, or warm walks on the beach, from woody adventures, to empty, stretching deserts California has it. California is a wondrous state with qualities that should be worlds apart.