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...

1582 Saves

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.

1462 Saves

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.

781 Saves

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.

700 Saves

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.

610 Saves

Backpack to Grizzly Lake

California / China Gulch Trailhead

Grizzly Lake is in the Trinity Alps Wilderness.

465 Saves

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.

413 Saves

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.

400 Saves

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).

381 Saves

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.

361 Saves

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.

351 Saves

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.

328 Saves

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.

258 Saves

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.

207 Saves

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.

198 Saves

Explore the Prairie Creek Redwoods

California / Prairie Creek Redwoods Visitor Center

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.

193 Saves

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.

180 Saves

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.

172 Saves

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.

168 Saves

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.

150 Saves

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.

136 Saves

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.

132 Saves

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.

125 Saves

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.

125 Saves

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.

108 Saves

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.

105 Saves

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.

97 Saves

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.

97 Saves

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.

90 Saves

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.

89 Saves

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.

70 Saves

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.

62 Saves

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.

56 Saves

Backpack Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

California / Prairie Creek Redwoods Visitor Center

This is the itinerary for our 3 day backpacking trip at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in early May. The original plan was to backpack Redwood Creek Trail in Redwood National Park.

54 Saves

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.

45 Saves

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.

44 Saves

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.

38 Saves

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.

36 Saves

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.

27 Saves

Hike Lyons Ranch

California / Lyons Ranch Historic Site

This is really a dirt road that is gated off from Bald Hills Road. The trail head parking can fit about 6 cars but seldom do people venture out this way.

19 Saves

Scramble Thompson Peak

California / Canyon Creek Lakes Trailhead

This adventure begins at the Canyon Creek Lakes in the Trinity Alps wilderness. Park at the Canyon Creek Trailhead near Junction City and hike the well-maintained and easy-to-follow trail for 8 miles.

10 Saves

Backcountry Camp in the Canyon Creek Drainage

California / Canyon Creek Lakes Trailhead

The first half of the Canyon Creek Drainage is one of the most popular destinations within the Trinity Alps, but the second half goes largely unexplored and uninhabited by sojourners.

5 Saves

Hike Gillem's Bluff Trail in Lava Beds National Monument

California / Lava Beds National Monument

Start from the parking lot just past the entrance booth at the Lava Beds National Monument. It is a straight forward hike up to the top of the bluff about .75 miles.

5 Saves