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9 Family-Friendly Hiking Trails in California

9 Family-Friendly Hiking Trails in California

From the North to the South of the state, we've highlighted 9 of the best family-friendly hiking trails in California.

Natasha Kouyoumjian


6 min read

October 18, 2022

Hiking is many things to different people; it can be an extreme sport or simply a casual hobby. From extreme trails with the splashing rivers beneath Wellington boots, all the way to the gentlest, most relaxing stroll in a beach park, hiking is regarded as one of the most entertaining outdoor activities. It can be enjoyed individually, with loved ones, and even with kids. And for family-bound hikers, the best thing about this state is that kid-friendly trails are all around.

How Do You Make Hiking Fun For Kids?

It's common to think of ways to make exercise more fun. Children are naturally curious and it is easy for them to find fun in almost anything. Running around nature, looking out for the birds and wildlife, and learning about the flora and fauna will be the most educational, fun, and lively day for a kid. Taking your child on a hike might even ignite a passion and appreciation for the outdoors.

How to Prepare for Hiking with Kids?

Granted, going hiking with kids can be a little overwhelming, but with a well-revised routine before hitting the road and a well-organized backpack you’ll have smooth sailing.

Items to Get Before Hitting the Road

Here are a few things to put on before you embark on a family hike.
1. Before bite - to avoid any insect bites,
2. Sunscreen - to protect them from UV rays (for all family members),
3. Hats and sunglasses.

 And for the uninitiated, a simple list of must-haves can help you dodge all future mishaps.
1. Napkins,
2. Wet wipes,
3. A small first aid kit (bandaids, antiseptic disinfectant, and medical adhesive tape),
4. Water bottles (for when you find a natural spring),
5. Small snacks, sweet and salty,
6. Extra socks, and undershorts (just in case),
6. Antihistamine to treat allergic reactions.

Southern California Hiking Trails

In San Clemente State Beach, you can enjoy a picturesque hike by the pacific coast.

1. San Clemente State Beach

Location: Parking lot, Avenida Calafia, San Clemente, CA 92672.
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 1 hr 20 min
Distance: 4.4 miles
Elevation: 55 feet
Route type: Out & Back

Starting with a favorite, this southern California coastal trail is a sandy paradise for all the family to enjoy. This kid-friendly trail welcomes you to take a delightful hike on a  picturesque route. Take in the soothing sound of the waves on a Sunday sunset walk while the birds wash up the pink-orange sky. Enjoy the sandy picturesque boardwalk on this coastal footpath that feels almost too good to be true.

From celebrities to hiking trails, Hollywood is the gift that keeps on giving.

2. Griffith Park Hollywood Sign Trail

Location: Merry Go Round Lot One, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 4hrs 30min
Distance: 8.7 miles
Elevation: 1,906 feet
Route type: Loop
Pets: Dogs on Leash

Hollywood, is the capital of movie fame. From blockbuster films to the city itself, this town has captivated the hearts of many. Adding to its charm, there’s a kid-friendly trail leading up to the Hollywood Sign from Griffith Park Visitor Center. On this partially paved trail near Glendale, California, you can enjoy a series of vistas as you make your way to the top of the park. While hiking this cool SoCal route, remember to pack some water, wear sunscreen, and take a selfie when you reach the famed Hollywood Sign.

3. Vintage Park - Wilderness Glen - Seville Park

Location: Lake Forest, California 92630.
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 1hr 3min
Distance: 2.9 miles
Elevation: 145 feet
Route Type: Point to point
Pets: Dogs on leash

Trek the paved roads of this easy trail located in Vintage Park near El Toro, California, in just one hour. The sweetest kid-friendly hike awaits the explorers of this road. Whether with family or on an individual journey, this trail is the perfect place to have a calming experience in nature while riding your bike, running, or even on a casual stroll.

Have a blast trekking this trail full of graffiti, and orange rocks like carved pumpkins.

4. Pumpkin Rock Trail

Location: Norco, California 92860.
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 53 min
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation: 380 feet
Route type: Loop
Pets: Allowed on leash

Spend a graceful time on this picture-worthy kid-friendly trail.  Lose yourself in an hour of fun hiking while spotting the orange graffiti sketched like carved pumpkins on giant rocks. With exciting activities like horseback riding, picking wildflowers, and bird watching, make the most of the family-friendly hikes in southern California.

Enjoy this magnificent trail, that puts the C in contrast.

5. Guy Fleming Trail

Location: Torrey Preserve, San Diego, CA.
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 17 min
Distance: 0.8 miles
Elevation: 52 feet
Route type: Loop
Pets: Not Allowed

Soak in the chill vibes of the oasis with a nice trek on this unique coastal California hiking trail. Cacti and a broad family of wildflowers awaits the adventurous family walking on this super easy trail. Experience the majestic contrasts of nature, witnessing the estuaries on one side and the sandy beaches on another.

Torrey Pines State Park in La Jolla offers the best summer hiking destination.

6. Torrey Pines State Beach and Broken Hill Trail Loop

Location: La Jolla, California 92037.
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 1h 21min
Distance: 3.29 miles
Elevation: 62 feet
Route type: Loop
Pets: Not Allowed

A kid-friendly trail on a typically challenging route is the ultimate summer hiking destination for the family. An hour and a half in the La Jolla, California loop trail is all you need to complete a circuit. Open year-round, this loop trail is the perfect place for running, admiring wildlife, chilling on beaches, and taking in the scenery. If you’re parking in the main area you’ll have to pay. However, you can park along Torrey Pines Road for free and walk in.

Northern California Hiking Trails

Enjoy a refreshing coastal hike from Baker Beach with a scenic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

7. Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach Trail 

Location: Parking lot, San Francisco, CA 94129.
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 2hr 24min
Distance: 5.9 miles
Elevation: 685 feet
Route type: Out & Back
Pets: Not Allowed

Hop on this hiking trail accessible from both sides of the beachfront. Ironically this moderately challenging route is a kid-friendly trail on the northern coast of California. Bask in the natural contrast of the flora and fauna with the hills on one side and the pacific coast on the other.  The area is popular for birdwatching, mountain biking, and jogging so you’ll likely encounter many people on the trail.

Bask in the ravishing view of the Bay Area from Mount Tamalpais.

8. Verna Dunshee Trail and Plank Trail at Mount Tam East Peak

Location: Mill Valley, California 94941.
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 39min
Distance: 1.18 miles
Elevation: 285 feet
Route type: Loop
Pets: Not Allowed

Find this trail located in Mount Tamalpais State Park for your family-friendly hikes in Northern California. With stunning views of the Bay Area, the trail is a popular spot for hiking, trail running, and walking. Spark the children’s curiosity with strikingly beautiful wildlife and colorful wildflowers on this kid-friendly trail.

9. Sisson Meadow Trail Loop

Location: Happy Camp, California 96039.
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 20 min
Distance: 0.99 miles
Elevation: 45 feet
Route type: Loop
Pets: Allowed on leash

Experience this gorgeous grass-full kid-friendly trail located in Sisson Meadow. Enjoy the amazing view of Siskiyou County’s natural wonders including Mount Shasta. Make sure to save some space on your phone, because this is that one shot you’ll cherish forever.

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