The Benefits 

Without long summer days to enjoy in the backyard, pandemic restrictions can feel a bit more suffocating. Though the natural mood boost of all that sunlight won’t be back for a few months, shaking up your outdoor routine with a trip to the trail can help invigorate your physical and mental well-being.

It’s National Hiking Day this November 17th, and in beautiful Southern California, venues for your vigorous stroll abound. Angeles National Forest, Mount Jacinto State Park, Chiquito Falls, and of course, the beautiful Pacific Crest Trail are all primed for your enjoyment, and these are but a few of the hiking destinations that can be enjoyed.

Hiking makes for a great activity to share with the family, as there are trails for every ability level, and a little bit of safety gear is the only barrier to entry. Science has also shown that kids can have some pretty remarkable developmental improvements from hiking and spending time in outdoor spaces — their focus can improve 1, negative thought cycles can be broken 2, they learn to be better cooperators 3, and their mental health in adulthood may be better 4. This list of 43 benefits offers plenty of great reasons to get the whole family out for a hike.

Safety on the Trail

Whether hiking solo or bringing the family, a basic trail is essential. A full list of guidelines is provided here. These simple rules are intended to deliver the safest and most enjoyable hiking experience possible, and should always be followed.

  • Choose a trail you and your companions can handle, and carefully plan the time you spend to avoid low light and bad weather
  • Always pack enough food, water, safety supplies, and a way to contact someone in case of emergency
  • Dress appropriately for the weather, and always wear suitable shoes with high tread
  • Make sure someone knows where you’ll be and is expecting to hear from you after your hike

For a list of hiking trails in Southern California, visit The Hiking Project.

Cover Image by MaBraS from Pixabay

1. Malibu Creek State Park (Crags Road Trail)

  • Location: Calabasas.
  • Length: 4.75 miles.
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Known For: Filming location for several TV shows and movies.
  • Dogs Allowed: Not on backcountry trails.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Rare.

2. Pacific Crest Trail (Vasquez Rocks)

  • Location: Agua Dulce.
  • GPS Coordinates: 34.4885° N, 118.3207° W.
  • Length: 2.6 miles.
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Known For: Spanning from Mexico to Canada.
  • Dogs Allowed: Leashed.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Yes, coyotes, lizards, snakes, quail.

3. Santa Monica Mountains

  • Location: Woodland Hills.
  • GPS Coordinates: 34.1203° N, 118.9318° W.
  • Length: Varies by trail.
  • Difficulty: Easy to Difficult depending on the trail.
  • Known For: Mountain views and variety of trails.
  • Dogs Allowed: Depends on the trail.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Yes.

4. Topanga State Park Trails

  • Location: Topanga.
  • Length: Depends on the trail.
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Known For: Variety of trails, grassland, and ocean views.
  • Dogs Allowed: No.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Yes.

5. Sandstone Peak

  • Location: Malibu.
  • GPS Coordinates: 34.1204° N, 118.9320° W.
  • Length: 6.25 miles.
  • Difficulty: Hard.
  • Known For: Views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Dogs Allowed: Leashed.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Yes, lizards, quail, coyotes, rattlesnakes.

6. Hollywood Sign Trails (Griffith Park)

  • Location: Los Angeles.
  • GPS Coordinates: 34.1341° N, 118.3215° W.
  • Length: Depends on the trail.
  • Difficulty: Depends on the trail.
  • Known For: Views of the LA cityscape.
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Yes, birds, butterflies, mountain lions.

7. Bridge to Nowhere (via East Fork Trail)

  • Location: Azusa.
  • Length: 10 miles.
  • Difficulty: Hard.
  • Known For: Waterfall.
  • Dogs Allowed: Leashed.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Yes, bighorn sheep.

8. Wisdom Tree (Via Cahuenga and Burbank Peaks)

  • Location: Los Angeles.
  • Length: 3 miles.
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Known For: Fun trail in Griffith Park.
  • Dogs Allowed: Leashed.
  • Possible Animal Sightings: Unknown.