Southern California Beginner Hikes

The map and table included below contain all the Southern California Beginner hikes from the different areas covered on this site.

Everyone has to start somewhere, no matter what the activity. These hikes offer easy access with parking at the trailhead, and also a nice combination of scenic value and easy to moderate terrain. Note that Southern California is blessed with a wonderfully diverse array of different types of terrain, so you can continue to find challenge and excitement in your hikes as your conditioning level improves. And since our weather is so good we can hike all year! Another great feature of Southern California hikes is that we can have snow in the winter and nice weather down below, so we can drive to the snow, take a day hike, and drive home to sun and warmth.

Southern California Beginner Hikes IMG_5073You will want to do some preparation before you begin hiking, especially if you are hiking in the mountains. Mountains are beautiful and exciting, but must be respected as well. Please be sure to read Hiking 101 – Hiking for Beginners before you hit that trail – this page offers some tips and insights that will be helpful to you in your new endeavor. You may also find the Wikipedia entry on hiking useful and entertaining. Perhaps the most important information you can have is knowledge of hiking safety, so that you and your hiking companions remain safe. Also crucial to your new activity is knowledge and proper use of also of hiking gear. After you have done your initial research, pick one of the beginner hikes below and go for it.  Now you have no excuse for not getting out there to start an activity that might change your life – hiking!

Southern California Beginner Hikes Map

Southern California Beginner Hikes

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San Juan Loop Trail: 33.612668, -117.427223
Etiwanda Falls: 34.165637, -117.523308
Temescal Canyon Hike: 34.051054, -118.529083
Runyon Canyon Hike: 34.105270, -118.348960
Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Hike: 33.681312, -117.664653
Holy Jim Falls: 33.676943, -117.517264
Eaton Canyon Falls: 34.178373, -118.096569
Weir Canyon Trail: 33.836252, -117.741136
Sturtevant Falls: 34.195660, -118.022471
Laurel Canyon Loop Trail: 33.580074, -117.762365
Solstice Canyon Hike : 34.037721, -118.781572
Switzer Falls: 34.266147, -118.144304
Mt Waterman Hike: 34.345567, -117.920701
Santa Ynez Canyon Trail: 34.078243, -118.567421


Table of Southern California Beginner Hikes

Hike NameDifficultyTypeLocationLength (RT)TimeElevationSummary
San Juan Loop TrailEasyWaterfall/View hikeSanta Anas - Ortega Highway Corridor 2.2 miles1.5 hrs500'Great beginner’s loop trail featuring seasonal waterfalls, nice views down San Juan Creek basin, and old growth oak forest.
Etiwanda FallsEasy to ModerateWaterfall hikeSan Gabriels - Rancho Cucamonga Area4 miles2 hrs700' Well graded though shadeless trail to lovely tree-lined stream with multi-tiered waterfall 100' total height
Temescal Canyon Hike – Los AngelesEasy to ModerateWaterfall/View HikeSanta Monicas - Topanga State Park3 miles2 hrs900'Great beginner’s loop trail featuring expansive ocean, city, and canyon views, a lovely seasonal stream with waterfalls, and old growth oak and sycamore forest
Runyon Canyon Hike – Los AngelesEasy to ModerateTrail/View HikeSanta Monicas-Hollywood Hills3 miles1.5 hrs800'A good cardio workout with great city and ocean views, and dog friendly. A bit crowded yes, but also close to the city.
Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon HikeEasyNo. Unless you scramble up the sandstone cliffs. Then read Read Adventure Hikes advisories!Santa Anas - Whiting Ranch Area4.5 miles2.5 hrs550'Exotic red sandstone formations like Sedona (on a much smaller scale) in the OC with super easy access.
Holy Jim FallsEasyWaterfall HikeSanta Anas - Trabuco Creek Area3 miles 1.5 hrs700'Easy hike to lovely 18' waterfall in a beautiful mountain canyon, but a rough road to the trail head.
Eaton Canyon FallsEasyWaterfall HikeSan Gabriels- Altadena Area4 miles1.5 hrs650'Nice hike up easy to follow but sometimes crowded trail to mostly year round flowing 40' waterfall.
Weir Canyon Trail – Orange CountyEasyTrail/View hikeSanta Anas - 91 Freeway Area3.5 miles1.5 hrs350'Easy, uncrowded, and surprisingly scenic loop in an unspoiled canyon close to civilization.
Sturtevant FallsEasyWaterfall HikeSan Gabriels - Santa Anita Canyon3.5 miles1.5 hrs650'Easy hike, but very popular and often crowded, into gorgeous Santa Anita Canyon to lovely 40' waterfall.
Laurel Canyon Loop TrailEasyTrail/View HikeOrange County - Laguna Coast WIlderness Park3.5 miles2 hrs500'Nice loop hike with quick and easy access offers varied terrain including great views, scenic sandstone formations, and lovely coastal canyons - but these attributes make it very popular at times as well.
Solstice Canyon HikeEasy to ModerateView/Waterfall HikeSanta Monicas - Malibu Area3 miles3 hrs950'Hike into a wonderful sea side canyon featuring great ocean views, old growth oak trees, interesting historical ruins, and a lovely seasonal waterfall.
Switzer FallsEasy to ModerateView/Waterfall HikeSan Gabriels - Arroyo Seco Area5 - 6 miles3 - 4 hrs750'Hike into a historic canyon to see a wonderful 50' tall waterfall in a beautiful wooded gorge with great views and numerous pools and cascades.
Mt Waterman HikeEasy to ModerateTrail/View HikeSan Gabriels - Mt Waterman Area6 miles4 hrs1,200Hike on excellent trail to the summit of 8,041' Waterman Mountain (aka Mt Waterman), in the magnificent San Gabriel high country. Exposed granite, great views, and healthy alpine forest give this hike a flavor of the Sierras, but much closer to home.
Santa Ynez Canyon TrailEasyWaterfall hikeSanta Monicas - Topanga State Park2.5 miles1.5 hrs250'Easy hike to a lovely sculpted sandstone gorge with a small seasonal 15′ waterfall.

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