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The 13 Best Hikes in Southern California to Take This Spring

The 13 Best Hikes in Southern California to Take This Spring

By Annie A.
February 19, 2021

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Every season has its own charm. We practically spend every day at the beach during the summer, we go on ski tours after the first major snowfall, and we head out to see stunning fall foliage once the leaves begin changing colors. Springtime—the most underrated season—calls for exciting hiking adventures to soak in all of Southern California’s stunning scenery.   

Purples, yellows, and oranges carpet the striking SoCal fields, creating a harmonious scene with other local wildlife. Don’t let your allergies get the best of you this year—set out on a journey this spring to enjoy spectacular panoramas and ethereal wildflowers on the best hikes in Southern California


The Best Spring Hiking Trails In Southern California

Enjoy the feeling of serenity and the sight of spring wildflowers while trekking the Solstice Canyon Trail.

1. Solstice Canyon Loop Trail

Location: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Los Angeles

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Round-trip distance: 3.2 miles 

Time: 1.5 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

Reward yourself with the best hike in Southern California by trekking the picturesque Solstice Canyon Trail. Set in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the loop takes you past historic sites, a small waterfall, and a shallow creek—all while vibrant wildflowers illuminate the path. With plenty of exotic plants emerging along the way, the Solstice Canyon Trail offers a magical adventure. 

2. Matilija Creek Trail

Location: Los Padres National Forest, Ojai

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Round-trip distance: 8.8 miles 

Time: 3.5 hours

Route: Out and back 

Dogs allowed: On leash

The Matilija Creek Trail is one of the best hikes in Ojai. What makes this trail so special is the fact that it has several natural features that take your breath away. It’s not just the brilliant wildflowers, either—it’s the grand rock formations, the beautiful creek, and the exciting waterfalls. Once you hike this trail, you’ll find yourself returning to Ojai every spring for the best hike in Ventura County.  

3. San Jacinto Peak Middle Route Trail

Location: San Jacinto Wilderness, Idyllwild 

Level of difficulty: Challenging

Round-trip distance: 16 miles 

Time: 9.5 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No 

Sometimes the hardest things in life are the things most worth doing. The San Jacinto Peak Middle Route Trail might not be the easiest trek, but it’s undoubtedly the best hike in Idyllwild you’ll ever go on. While your four-legged pal won’t be able to join you on this journey, the trail will astonish you with its scenic panoramas, dense forests, wildlife-viewing opportunities, and multicolored wildflowers that pop up every step of the way.  


Hidden Hikes In Southern California To Take Now

Take in the scenic panoramas of Laguna Beach while hiking the El Moro Canyon Loop Trail—you might just have it all to yourself.

4. El Moro Canyon Loop Trail

Location: Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Round-trip distance: 2.9 miles 

Time: 2.5 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No 

El Moro Canyon Loop Trail is one of the coolest off-the-beaten-path hikes in SoCal. The wheelchair-friendly trail is commonly used for running, nature trips, mountain biking, and enjoying the magnificent wildflowers that bloom during springtime. Although the vivid blooms are the main draws here, the grasslands, coastal chaparral, and stunning ocean views also make El Moro Canyon Trail one of the most awe-inspiring hidden hikes in Southern California

5. Point Dume Cove Trail

Location: Point Dume State Beach, Malibu

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Round-trip distance: 1.4 miles 

Time: 1 hour

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No 

Looking for easy hiking trails in Los Angeles County? The Point Dume Cove Trail is the ideal choice. Perfect for all skill levels, this out-and-back trail boasts fantastic spring wildflowers—the hike is best enjoyed in the mornings. The trail takes you on dirt, sand, and wooden planks around the bluffs. With the ocean waves relaxing your soul, you’ll realize that this is undeniably one of the best trails in Southern California

The Best Springtime Hikes In Los Angeles

Prepare to be enchanted by vibrant blooms during your hike through the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

6. Antelope Loop Trail

Location: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, Lancaster

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Round-trip distance: 5.5 miles 

Time: 2.5 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No

While the Antelope Loop Trail is by no means an off-the-beaten-path trail in California, it’s definitely among the most gratifying ones in the state. The best time to hike this trail is when the California poppies are in full bloom. Other than the state flower, also keep an eye out for silver puffs, pygmy-leaved lupines, lacy phacelia, forget-me-nots, red maids, sun cups, owl's clovers, hairy lotus, and cream cups. The Antelope Loop Trail is guaranteed to blow your mind, making it one of the best hiking trails in Southern California

7. Escondido Falls Trail

Location: Escondido Canyon Park, Malibu

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Round-trip distance: 3.7 miles 

Time: 2 hours

Route: Out and back 

Dogs allowed: On leash 

If you want to go on a kid-friendly adventure in SoCal, hike the Escondido Falls Trail—one of the best hikes in Los Angeles, especially in the spring. Purple and yellow wildflowers emerge from the fertile grounds, intensifying the path that takes you to the remarkable waterfall. The easy trail offers plenty of shade and bird-watching opportunities, too, so take your time and make the most of your hike. 


The Best Hikes In Orange County To Try This Season

Conquer the best hikes in Orange County with your closest friends and admire the beauty surrounding you.

8. Laurel Canyon, Laurel Spur, Willow Trail Loop

Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Aliso Viejo

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Round-trip distance: 3.3 miles 

Time: 1.5 hours

Route: Loop 

Dogs allowed: On leash 

The Laurel Canyon, Laurel Spur, Willow Trail Loop features great elevation changes, making your experience all the more exciting. Gorgeous wildflowers and local wildlife enliven this trail—the waterfall is the cherry on top. Although Laguna Coast Wilderness Park has over 40 trails, this one is unmistakably the best hike in Orange County

9. Black Star Canyon Falls Trail

Location: Cleveland National Forest, Silverado

Level of difficulty: Challenging 

Round-trip distance: 6.8 miles 

Time: 3.5 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes 

The Black Star Canyon Falls Trail is among the most underrated hikes in SoCal. The lesser-known, partially paved pathway boasts lush forests, a small cave, wildlife, river views, colorful wildflowers, and even a waterfall. Back in the 1880s, Black Star Canyon was home to a coal mining company (from which it got its name); not only is it an important archaeological site, but it also offers one of the best hikes in Southern California

The Best Spring Hikes In San Diego

Want to discover a hidden oasis in the middle of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park? Hit the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.

10. Borrego Palm Canyon Trail

Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs  

Level of difficulty: Moderate 

Round-trip distance: 2.9 miles 

Time: 1 hour

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is unlike any other—the largest state park in California is home to stellar night skies, wonderful hikes, and expansive fields of super blooms. The Borrego Palm Canyon Trail is not just the best hike in San Diego County, but also the most rewarding in all of SoCal. This path leads you to the third-largest palm oasis in the Golden State. The oasis is tucked away in a rocky V-shaped gorge, waiting to be discovered. Don’t miss out on the best hike in Southern California; grab your hiking boots and head over to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as soon as possible. 

11. Big Laguna Trail

Location: Cleveland National Forest, Mount Laguna 

Level of difficulty: Moderate 

Round-trip distance: 13.3 miles 

Time: 6.5 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

Cleveland National Forest is so big that you can explore it from San Diego, Riverside, and Orange Counties. The most rewarding trail here is the Big Laguna Trail. Embark on an exhilarating adventure with your pet and enjoy the impressive assortment of wildflowers along the way. If you like biking, the Big Laguna Trail is the perfect spot to ride your bicycle. With countless birds chirping and flying overhead, this trail is—without a doubt—one of the most unforgettable and best hikes in San Diego.   


Top Spring Hiking Trails Near Palm Springs

Soak up the Southern California sunshine as you traverse the Willis Palm Loop in Thousand Palms.

12. Willis Palm Loop

Location: Coachella Valley Preserve, Thousand Palms 

Level of difficulty: Moderate 

Round-trip distance: 4.1 miles 

Time: 2 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No 

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in paradise, the Willis Palm Loop will answer your question. The well-marked sandy trail provides the best opportunity for hiking near Palm Springs. There’s little to no shade on the hike, though, so come prepared. The Willis Palm Loop leads you to a natural oasis boasting sweeping views of the nearby mountains. Hike this trail in springtime to see blooming wildflowers on your way to a paradisiacal land. 

13. South Lykken Trail

Location: Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Palm Springs  

Level of difficulty: Moderate 

Round-trip distance: 7.3 miles 

Time: 4.5 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No 

Although the South Lykken Trail isn’t a short hike, it’s definitely worth trekking. The trail offers one of the best hikes in Southern California—many people choose this path to go on nature trips with their friends and family. Kaleidoscopic wildflowers brighten the way and complement the expansive views of the Coachella Valley. Hiking in Palm Springs has never been better.


Annie A.

Annie A.

Annie has written about pretty much everything at this point, but her favorite topics are traveling, food, or basically anything that can become a future bucket list. She loves reading sci-fi novels,…

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