The Best Outdoor Activities in California
Discover the best hiking, camping, backpacking, fitness, and more.
Backpack Redwood National and State Parks
California / Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center
Day 1: Check with the Rangers station before heading up for best camping opportunities. Assuming you've checked with the rangers for approval...
Hike to Burney Falls
California / Burney Falls Loop Trail
Although the falls can be seen right from the parking area, this scenic 1.3 mile loop is a great hike for all levels of hiking ability.
Backpack The Lost Coast: Mattole to Black Sands Beach
California / Mattole Trailhead
This is an absolutely stunning 25 mile thru-hike on the northern part of California's coast. To accomplish this hike, you'll either need to bring 2 cars or use a shuttle service.
Hike to Phantom Falls
California / Phantom Falls Trailhead
Dropping off a 135 ft cliff is a very well hidden waterfall with no trails leading to it. But if you do find it, it is an epic natural wonder.
Hike to Middle McCloud Falls
California / Fowlers Campground
Just 4 hours north of San Francisco, McCloud Falls offers a quick hike and swimming hole for those looking for something less crowded than Burney Falls.
Backpack to Grizzly Lake
California / China Gulch Trailhead
Grizzly Lake is in the Trinity Alps Wilderness.
Hike to Tall Trees Grove, Redwood NP
California / Tall Trees Grove Trailhead
NOTE: You need a permit, albeit free, to do this hike. First, you'll need to go to the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center just off Highway 101 south of Orick, CA.
Explore Fern Canyon
California / Fern Canyon
Fern Canyon is located within Gold Bluffs Beach at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park located some 45 miles south of Crescent City, CA.
Hike to Fairy Falls (Shingle Falls)
California / Fairy Falls Trailhead
Start at the Fairy Falls trailhead in Spenceville Wildlife Area Field Trial Grounds in Penn Valley (careful on the bumpy roads in).
Camp at Gold Bluff Beach
California / Gold Bluff Beach Campground
Located at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, the access road to this beach is a dirt road through the redwoods. Once you arrive to the beach area there is a park booth.
Hike to the North Fork Dam of Lake Clementine
California / Lake Clementine Trailhead
Located only roughly 40 minutes from Sacramento. This trail will allow you to view and walk under the 5th largest bridge in the US as well as enjoy the waterfall spectacle of a top releasing Dam.
Backpack to the Canyon Creek Lakes
California / Canyon Creek Lakes Trailhead
Numerous starting points with over 550 miles of trail and easily 50+ different featured trails depending on length and what type of activity you are are looking for.
Cliff Jump at Hatchet Falls
California / Hatchet Falls, Montgomery California
About 45 min outside of Redding, California is this breathtaking waterfall, with being a relatively short hike makes it fun for all ages. The hike takes about 5 minutes from the road.
Explore the Prairie Creek Redwoods
California / Prairie Creek Redwoods SP
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is located in Orick, CA about 50 miles North of Eureka, Ca and 25 miles South of Crescent City, CA. Take the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway exit off of Highway 101.
Explore Stout Grove via the Howland Hill Road
California / Howland Hill Road
The Howland Hill Road is the premier drive through Redwood National and State Parks.
Hike Trinidad Head
California / Trinidad Head TrailHead
Park in the large parking lot at Trinidad Beach. The trailhead is at the south end of the parking lot. The loop trail can be hiked in either direction.
Hike the Damnation Creek Trail
California / Damnation Creek Trailhead
Located right on Highway 101, the Damnation Creek Trail is one of the best trails in Redwood National and State Parks.
Backpack the Sky High Lakes in the Marble Mountains
California / Lover's Camp Trailhead
The Marble Mountains are part of the Klamaths, a biologically and geologically diverse range of peaks and ridges often overshadowed by its western neighbors in the Cascades.
Backpack Devil's Punchbowl, Six Rivers National Forest
California / Doe Flat Trailhead
Located in extreme Northern California, the Siskiyou Mountains are the largest sub-range of the Klamath Mountain range and among the most rugged.
Hike to the Caribou Lakes, Shasta-Trinity Alps
California / Caribou Lakes Trailhead at the Big Flat Campground
Hike through the most majestic and unforgettable mountain ranges, alpine terrains, glacier lakes outside of the Sierra Nevada in Northern California.
Hike the Boy Scout Tree Trail
California / Boy Scout Tree Trail
With a profusion of titanic trees and an ever expanding landscape, the extraordinary Boy Scout Tree Trail is not so much a hike as it is a showcase of the world's most scenic old growth redwoods.
Camp at Nickel Creek
California / Crescent City Beach Education Center
First, check in at the Crescent City Ranger Information Center in Crescent City to pick up your free backcountry permit and get permission to park your car at the Crescent City Beach Education Center.
Backpack to Raspberry Lake
California / Young's Valley Trailhead
If you wish to experience the beauty of the Siskiyou Wilderness and avoid the crowds associated with The Devil’s Punchbowl, then consider a visit to Raspberry Lake.
Explore Deer Creek Falls
California / Deer Creek Falls
This extremely short hike starts just off of Highway 32. From Chester, head southwest on 32 for roughly 21 miles. There is a turnout and a sign where the trail starts.
Cliff Jump at Copper Canyon
California / Copper Canyon, Havasu
There are two ways to get to Copper Canyon--by boat or by hiking in via the California side of the trail alongside the lake.
Relax at False Klamath Cove
California / Wilson Creek Picnic Area
Wilson Beach in False Klamath Cove is a small but scenic spot in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
Hike to the Etna Mountain Summit
California / Etna Mountain Trailhead
To start off, you're going to want to navigate to the Etna Summit Trailhead (5956 ft). There's a small parking lot off to the side and we did not need any passes for our overnight trip.
Hike the Yurok Loop Trail
California / Lagoon Creek Picnic Ground
The Yurok Loop Trail is a small loop on the northern end of the growing California Coastal Trail.
Hike through Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood NP
California / Lady Bird Johnson Trailhead
This hike starts in the parking lot of the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Picnic Area.
Climb Up to the Blue Ledge Mines
California / Forest Road 1050 (x 1055)
Although the hills of the State of Jefferson are most known for boasting gold, a detour from Applegate Lake leads to an interesting view of regional copper mining history.
Hike the Fen Trail at Kangaroo Lake
California / Kangaroo Lake
The Fen Trail around Kangaroo Lake is a beautiful secluded camping and hiking area in the Klamath Forest of Northern California.
Hike to Trillium Falls
California / Elk Meadows Day Use Area
Trillium Falls trail is a nice little hike through a second growth and old growth redwood forest. The trail is lined with sweet smelling ferns and has plenty of shade the entire route.
Hike the Emerald Ridge - Redwood Creek Loop
California / Emerald Ridge, Redwood National Park
This loop begins at the Tall Trees Trailhead. To access this parking area, you must have a permit that you can obtain from the Kuchel ranger station. The gate is locked.
Watch a Sunset at College Cove Beach
California / College Cove Beach Parking Area
Follow the trail leading from the end of the parking lot down onto the beach.
Night Photography at Devil's Gate, Lost Coast
California / Devil's Gate
This section of the Lost Coast resides in between Capetown and Petrolia, CA. Entering "Lost Coast California" into Google Maps or a GPS should take you to the road you will need to be on.
Hike the James Irvine Miner's Ridge Loop, Redwood National Forest
California / James Irvine Miners Ridge Loop Trail
What is known as the "James Irvine Miner's Ridge Loop" is actually a combination of trails that creates a loop in the Redwood Forest.
Drive Bald Hills Road in Redwood National and State Parks
California / Bald Hills Road
Driving the Bald Hills Road was a totally unexpected treat when I visited Redwood National and State Parks.
Hike the Friendship Ridge Trail loop via the Coastal Trail
California / Fern Canyon Trailhead
This loop hikes starts at the Fern Canyon Trailhead. To get to Fern Canyon, drive to the end of Davison Rd, also known as Gold Bluff Beach road.