Santa Monica, California

The best Trails and Outdoor Activities in Santa Monica, California offer a variety of top outdoor adventures. The Temescal Canyon Loop is a must-visit with its 2.6-mile trail that offers stunning ocean views and a scenic waterfall. For a more challenging hike, the Los Liones Trail is a 7.3-mile trail that takes you through lush greenery and offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Monica Beach bike path is a 22-mile long flat trail perfect for cycling, running, and walking. If you're into bird watching, the Ballona Wetlands is a great spot. For rock climbing, head to Point Dume in nearby Malibu. Remember to respect the outdoors and leave no trace behind. Enjoy your outdoor adventures in Santa Monica!

Top Spots in and near Santa Monica

  • Malibu, California

    Hike Mugu Peak Loop via Chumash Trail

    5.0
    6.5 mi / 1255 ft gain
    From the parking lot at the trailhead, follow the steep trail going up the mountain. This part is quite challenging, so I recommend stretching out your legs before starting the hike. Once you reach the top, you will see your first junction. Go right if you want to go straight for the peak, and th...
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  • Palmdale, California

    Hike to Vetter Mountain and the Fire Lookout Tower

    2.8 mi / 550 ft gain
    If you're looking for an easy mountain to hike, and perhaps give the kids something interesting to learn about at the top, then Vetter Mountain may fit the bill.  At 5,908', and with a trailhead at about 5,350', this 1.4 mile (one way) hike only climbs about 550' vertical.   The trailhead is loca...
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  • Azusa, California

    Fish Canyon Falls

    2.0
    4.08 mi / 801 ft gain
    This trail is currently closed! Learn more on the U.S. Forest Service website. Follow Encanto Parkway towards the hills until you come to a junction with a sign labeled "trail" that points towards a parking lot to your right. Parking is free, though on weekends it may be difficult to find a spot...
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  • Agua Dulce, California

    Vasquez Rocks

    5.0
    2.42 mi / 367 ft gain
    This is a Natural Park Area located in Santa Clarita, within the Sierra Pelona Mountains. It features amazing diagonal rock formations, created because of the force between two tectonic plates pushing against each other. This place is a photographer's paradise, and every spot in this 900+ acre l...
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  • Santa Clarita, California

    Hike the PCT and Foot Trail Loop through Vasquez Rocks

    5.0
    5.5 mi / 287 ft gain
    The Pacific Crest Trail and foot trail hike is a 5-mile loop with a quick PCT branch-off that leads under the 14 freeway through a long, well-maintained (but very dark) tunnel.  Pull into the well-marked parking lot and stop in the visitor center to take a look at the topographical park model and...
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  • Palmdale, California

    Camp at Chilao Campground

    4.3
    While not as popular as shady Buckhorn Campground up the road, Chilao offers the better views and greater chances of scoring a peaceful and private campsite. There are two campsites located here (and two group camps down in the valley). Sites are first come, first serve, and cost $12 (bring exact...
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  • Palmdale, California

    Camp at Manzanita Loop in Chilao Campground

    5.0
    Chilao Camp is located at an elevation of 5,300 feet, in the San Gabriel Mountains, and is divided into two different loops called the Manzanita and Pine.This specific adventure is for the Manzanita Loop, which is pretty much known as the more scenic loop, mainly because the area overlooks the Bi...
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  • Castaic, California

    Paddle Castaic Lake State Recreational Area

    6 mi
    Castaic Lake is a man made reservoir located 41 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, CA in the town of Castaic. Made up of two bodies of water, separated by a 425-foot dam, Upper and Lower Castaic Lakes have a combined 29 miles of shoreline forming the Castaic Lake State Recreational Area. The s...
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  • Pearblossom, California

    Camp at Horse Flats Campground

    3.0
    The Horse Flats Campground is located 29 miles up Highway 2 from Interstate 210. You will turn left at the Santa Clara Divide Road(this intersection is also known as 3 Points). 3 miles down the road you will turn left to enter the campground. I have camped here a few times and its always been pre...
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  • Santa Clarita, California

    Hike to Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Monument

    3.2 mi / 153 ft gain
    The Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Monument, established in 2019, memorializes the site where the Saint Francis Dam, built by famed engineer William Mulholland, collapsed in 1929, tragically killing more than 400 people in the middle of the night as a 150+ foot wave of water crashed through ...
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  • Ladera Ranch, California

    Huntington Beach Pier

    4.6
    The Huntington Beach Pier is a great spot for a multitude of activities. If you're looking to bodysurf, surf, swim, jog, or just chill, this is the spot for you. There's plenty of a restaurants nearby, making it the perfect weekday/weekend getaway.  I frequent this location to shoot sunsets by t...
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  • Avalon, California

    Camp at Parsons Landing

    5.0
    7 mi / 0 ft gain
    The distance can vary depending on where you start. It is a 2.5 mile hike from Emerald Bay or 7 mile hike from Two Harbors or you can kayak in. There are 8 primitive campsites (6 people/ site) which means there is no running water, no supplies...you must pack in everything. The campsites are spre...
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  • Pearblossom, California

    Cooper Canyon Trail Camp

    5.37 mi / 1214 ft gain
    There's a small parking lot just below Cloudburst Summit on the way to Mount Waterman. Start your adventure there. I'd be hard-pressed to say it's more than 15 yards from the sign for the summit (7018' AMSL). There's a fire road, if you're newer to altitude and don't know how to read a map (or e...
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  • Pearblossom, California

    Snowshoe Buckhorn Ridge Trail

    2.5 mi / 700 ft gain
    Located 1 mile east of the Mt Waterman Ski Resort, Buckhorn Ski Hill is a great place to enjoy a leisurely stroll through a snow-covered forest, complete with views of towering Mt Waterman. To get here take I-210 toward La Canada, exit on to California Highway 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) heading no...
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  • Pearblossom, California

    Mt. Waterman

    5.0
    5.87 mi / 1499 ft gain
    Mt. Waterman is accessed along Highway 2 in the Angeles National Forest. Heading east from La Canada look for mileage marker 58.0 (34 miles from La Canada) just past the closed ski resort. Park at one of the large paved turnouts on your left. Display an Adventure Pass ($5 at Ranger Station or Big...
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  • Avalon, California

    Visit Two Harbors, Catalina Island

    5.0
    Just 30 miles from the commotion and congestion of Los Angeles, is a small island village that time seems to have left behind. You won't find the usual traffic, development, and big crowds here.  You won't find movie theaters, concert venues, hotels, nightclubs, or sporting events either. At Cata...
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