7 Hiking Cities In California With The Best Local Trails

California is a paradise for nature lovers, with its diverse landscapes ranging from rocky beaches and towering forests to desert canyons. Here are seven cities in California that offer the best local hiking trails, catering to outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels.

1. Sacramento

Number of hiking trails: 57

Sacramento is surrounded by beautiful trails and the scenic American River, providing numerous full-day activities in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.

Highlights include the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, which follows the American River Parkway to Folsom Lake. Other popular spots for hiking are Auburn State Recreation Area, Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park, and Folsom Lake.

Top-rated trails: American River Bike Trail and Levee Path Loop, River Bend Park Riverside Loop
Scenic hiking areas: Hidden Falls Regional Park, Effie Yeaw Nature Center, American River Parkway

2. Palm Springs

Number of hiking trails: 70

Palm Springs offers an impressive range of hiking options, from desert landscapes to alpine wilderness. Notable hiking areas include Mount San Jacinto State Park, the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation (home to Palm, Murray, Andreas, and Tahquitz Canyons), and the City of Palm Springs. Here, hikers can enjoy stunning mountain views, waterfalls, and unique rock formations.

Top-rated trails: Tahquitz Canyon Loop, San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway, Murray Canyon Trail to Seven Falls
Scenic hiking areas: Joshua Tree National Park, Mount San Jacinto State Park, Indian Canyons

3. Santa Cruz

Number of hiking trails: 74

Santa Cruz offers a variety of hiking habitats, from the majestic Santa Cruz Mountains to breathtaking ocean views. The area is famous for its ancient redwood forests, especially in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Other scenic hiking spots include Wilder Ranch State Park, known for its captivating coastal views.

Top-rated trails: Old Cove Landing Trail, West Cliff Drive, Fall Creek and Lost Empire Loop
Scenic hiking areas: Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Wilder Ranch State Park

4. Santa Barbara

Number of hiking trails: 94

Santa Barbara, nestled between the sea and the Santa Ynez Mountains, offers some of the most picturesque trails in California. Hikers can enjoy views of the city, ocean, and Channel Islands. Wildlife sightings are common on coastal trails, with chances to spot harbor seals, dolphins, and even whales.

Top-rated trails: Hot Springs Canyon Trail, Inspiration Point, Cold Spring Loop
Scenic hiking areas: Inspiration Point, Gaviota Wind Caves, Rattlesnake Canyon

5. San Francisco

Number of hiking trails: 94

San Francisco’s Bay Area provides stunning views of cityscapes, the bay, the ocean, and iconic bridges. The city offers both steep hills and flat areas for hiking. Popular trails include the Lands End Trail and the California Coastal Trail. Muir Woods National Monument and Twin Peaks are also must-visit hiking spots.

Top-rated trails: Lands End Trail, California Coastal Trail: Lands End to Golden Gate Bridge, Seal Rocks Beach
Scenic hiking areas: Lands End Trail, Muir Woods National Monument, Twin Peaks

6. Los Angeles

Number of hiking trails: 137

Los Angeles is known for its year-round sunny weather and a plethora of hiking trails. Scenic areas such as Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon Park are popular hiking destinations. A hike to the Hollywood Sign is a must. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the ocean from various trails.

Top-rated trails: Hollywood Sign via Canyon Drive, Hollywood Sign via Innsdale Trail and Mt Lee Drive, Glendale Peak via Riverside, Hogback, and Mount Hollywood Loop
Scenic hiking areas: Eaton Canyon, Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon Park

7. San Diego

Number of hiking trails: 139

San Diego’s pleasant climate makes it an ideal place for hiking. The city offers a wide variety of routes, from desert trails to coastal walks. Notable trails include those in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Iron Mountain, and Cowles Mountain.

Top-rated trails: Fortuna Mountain Trail, Oak Canyon to Grasslands Trail, Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail
Scenic hiking areas: Iron Mountain, Cowles Mountain, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

These cities provide diverse and picturesque hiking opportunities, making them perfect destinations for anyone looking to explore California’s natural beauty.

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