You want to get back outside and start burning up the hiking trails but you’ve let your fitness slide along a steep, unforgiving slope of laziness. Don’t worry. You’re back… and ready to take on the best of them!
Finding a good easy hiking trail can be daunting. If you’re taking your first trip out with experienced hikers, it might feel as if you have to scale literal mountains just to see the best of SoCal. Fortunately, there are a lot of great beginner trails.
If you’re looking for a simple place to start, here are our top 5 choices.
(Ps. You might need a gps hiking watch to help you find your way. Check out our hiking watch reviews here.)
Easy SoCal Treks
San Juan Loop Trail
This easy trail is accessible to all, with a few moderately challenging offshoots for those of you who want to push yourself a little more. The hike takes about 1.5 hours at a moderate pace, and has a total upwards elevation of 500 feet. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was blown away to find this trail near me.
This popular trail is one of the gems of the Santa Ana Mountains, and features beautiful waterfalls in the spring, and stunning views of the natural landscape down the San Juan Creek Basin. In some short areas, you’ll be exposed to natural old growth oak forest – a rarity in the area.
Despite being an easy trail, this is a great way to warm yourself up to more challenging hikes. There is a lot of varied terrain. Some is nice and flat, while other parts have a moderate incline. You’ll transition from rock to dirt. For a beginner, these transitions are gradual and simple. But you’ll start to learn some more advanced techniques, and develop the confidence you need to tackle more challenging conditions.
One of the nice things about this hike is how well laid out it is. At the beginning of the trail, you’ve got a large sign that shows you a map, and where you are. The terrain is very well graded, and the path is always obvious. The changes of getting off track are minimal, making this the perfect beginner trail.
Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park
Located in the stunning Wildwood Park just outside of LA, Paradise Falls is one of the most accessible natural attractions in the area. There is a well developed network of trails, allowing even beginners to enjoy a comfortable stroll. The simplest route is about 2.15 miles round trip, but you can also extend this to a 2.5-mile loop that visits a small cave on your way. The entire trip is reasonably flat, and suitable for children.
There are a number of junctions and cross routes throughout the trail network, but all of them are very well marked, so you’ll have no worries about getting lost. Along the way you’ll find plenty of rest stops and picnic areas, so you’ll be able to stroll along at a casual pace and enjoy your time.
Here are some more Yelp reviews and pictures for Paradise Falls
Temescal Canyon Hike
This easy Los Angeles hike takes about two hours, and covers four miles. Although you increase in elevation about 900 feet, the pace is slow and steady. This means that you wont find it too challenging, but you’ll still be able to get a little bit of a workout in.
The incredible natural beauty located in Temescal Gateway Park makes this a very popular hike, and you’re sure to meet a few hiking buddies on the way. The start of the trail is easily accessible from the side of the road, and provides a good introduction to the topography of the Santa Monica Mountains. While this is the easiest hike in the area, there are plenty of more advanced hikes available. Familiarizing yourself with the area helps you get mentally prepared, making this enjoyable hike a stepping stone towards bigger challenges.
The Hollywood Sign Hike
Does this iconic hike need any introduction? Although there is a fence preventing you from getting closer than 30 feet to the sign, there is no shortage of sights to see. Want to check out the original bat cave from the hit 60s TV show? It’s on the way!
This iconic Southern California hike has a pretty steep incline, so you do get a bit of a workout. But the train is easy and very well maintained, so it’s something you can take the entire family on. There are plenty of signs along the way that identify historical moments. For example, did you know that the Hollywood sign originally read Hollywoodland? It was originally created to promote a new development on the top of the hill.
As you head up the mountain, you’ll head right past the Bronson Caves. You get a great view of your destination right from the start of the cave, which many aspiring hikers find helps motivate them on their journey. Once you reach the top, there are plenty of panoramic views that let you take in the sights of the city. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, this is definitely one that you don’t want to miss.
Need extra info, Check out this link
The Bridge to Nowhere
Located in the San Gabriel mountains in San Bernadino County, California, this simple hike gives you the opportunity to explore a local landmark. This 10 mile round-trip hike is commonly labelled as being an intermediate hike, which scares off many new hikers. However, the 3.6 mile trip to the bridge and back is actually very simple. Along the way you’ll find many pristine rivers, allowing you to beat the summer heat with a quick dip. The bridge itself was built in the 30s, and is a hot spot for daredevils who want to enjoy some bungee jumping. But if you’re just looking to see the sights, you’ll be amazed by the incredible landscape around you.
The first part of the hike is very gradual, with a well graded path. This hike is extremely popular, so you can expect to see some traffic along the way. We’d recommend checking it out in the warmer months. During the wet season there are a few places that can get washed out. Many choose to ford the river, but this makes the hike more challenging in certain seasons.
Here’s a great article by Modern Hiker
Why We Picked these Trails
For many, hiking is a lifestyle. It’s one of the most enjoyable ways to get a workout, and gives you the opportunity to see parts of the landscape that many city-dwellers never have the opportunity to explore.
Although every hike in our list is easy, they offer a stepping stone to greater challenges. As you become more confident in your hiking ability, you’ll want to see if you can go further and explore new places. In this regard, you can’t go wrong with any of the hikes on our list.
If you’re looking for more trail options in and around California, check out Explore Earth for some incredible routes and tips.