The Trail

California's Finest Hiking Trails

6/13/2023 | By Johnny Cash Trail| Folsom Activities

California has some of the most varying biomes of any state in the U.S. With that comes countless hiking trails that take us by waterfronts, through forests, and over mountains. But with so many to choose from, where do you start? There's no way we can cover all of the most beautiful trails you can access in the Golden State, but here are a few key mentions we think you should check out. Take a breath and set foot out on these trails you're bound to make memories on:

Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino - Lost Palms Trail

Starting like any hike, you'll want to begin this one early in the morning. Through a canyon bordered by cacti and native California fan palms, Joshua Tree's lost palm trail is one to behold. Though this trail leads you on a 7.5-mi round trip with a 1,000 ft. elevation gain, most hikers should have no problem completing it. 

As an FYI, the park recommends that visitors NOT hike between 10-5 pm as the trail has no shade and can get hot very quickly. However, visiting between October-April is reported to be the best time with chances to enjoy the route with cooler temperatures as well as see the desert flowers during the spring blooms. Pack your sunscreen! 

Rubicon Trail, Lake Tahoe

Though this trail runs a whopping 13 miles, you won't need to hike the whole thing to get what you want out of it. Along the path, you'll find several places to admire great views, dip through coves, enjoy the cooling flow of waterfalls, and, best of all, the never-ending wildflowers, juniper, cedar, pine, and fir trees. 

You can also peek at Vikingsholm, a Scandinavian-inspired castle at Emerald Bay. Completed in 1929, this home is one of the most photographed places near Lake Tahoe and in the U.S. You definitely don't want to miss out on this hidden gem and plenty more along the Rubicon Trail. 

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls sits third on our list, rising at over 2,425 feet above the valley floor. To get up there, you have two options. 

  1. A two-mile round trip with a 1,000-foot elevation gain to Columbia Rock to see the beautiful view of the falls and Half Dome or 
  2. The entire 7.2-mile round trip hike with a whopping 2,700 feet of elevation gain to the tip top of the falls for an unmatched view. 

These trips aren't for beginners, but if you have a few hikes under your belt, it should be no problem. In addition, these two beautiful trails only scrape the surface of the many beautiful trails that span across the Yosemite Valley. So if these don't sound up your alley, another option will definitely be. 

Mt. Woodson Trail, San Diego 

Mt. Woodson is a must-see for anyone in the area. Just 30 mins north of downtown San Diego, a seven-foot cantilever jumps out from the side of a boulder near the peak, known as Potato Chip Rock. The trail is a 7.4 mile, 2,000 ft. climb to the rock from the trail at Lake Poway; there is also a shorter paved path from Mt. Woodson Road. Regardless of choice, be sure to pack water and snacks!

Boy Scout Tree Trail, Redwood National, and State Park 

With 5.5 miles of hidden away trail leading you along a rewarding excursion through the Jedediah Smith Redwoods, the Boy Scout Tree Trail offers a truly immersive experience. Best visited on a sunny day, you can find the Boy Scout Tree near a clearing at the trail's end. Resembling the iconic two-fingered Boy Scout salute, this incredible double-stem fused redwood is a sight to behold. 

In addition to seeing the history and beauty that the forest holds, there is also a trail leading you to Fern Falls, the other trail option when you visit. The only downside is that the trail isn't a round trip, so just be prepared for the hike back!

Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, Folsom CA

Right in the heart of Folsom, claiming America's #1 bike trail in 2006 and containing more than 32 miles of trails and walkways, this route is generally an easy and amazing trek to maneuver. It's a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and even bird watchers alike but on certain quieter days, it's not difficult to find some space to yourself. The trail is open year round and also allows your pups and pets to walk around on leash. Near the end you can also cross the Rainbow Bridge and take a stroll around the Johnny Cash Trail! Sorry we couldn't help ourselves…

This list doesn't even attempt to cover all the beautiful trails in California, so there is plenty more where that came from! Whether you're an experienced mountaineer and climber or just starting on your own hiking experience, there is something for everyone, regardless of skill level. Plus, hosting some of the best weather in the nation doesn't hurt. 

Have you visited some of the places that we mentioned above? Show and tag us online!