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.
You 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
Table of Southern California Beginner Hikes
|Hike Name||Difficulty||Type||Location||Length (RT)||Time||Elevation||Summary|
|San Juan Loop Trail||Easy||Waterfall/View hike||Santa Anas - Ortega Highway Corridor||2.2 miles||1.5 hrs||500'||Great beginner’s loop trail featuring seasonal waterfalls, nice views down San Juan Creek basin, and old growth oak forest.|
|Etiwanda Falls||Easy to Moderate||Waterfall hike||San Gabriels - Rancho Cucamonga Area||4 miles||2 hrs||700'||Well graded though shadeless trail to lovely tree-lined stream with multi-tiered waterfall 100' total height|
|Temescal Canyon Hike – Los Angeles||Easy to Moderate||Waterfall/View Hike||Santa Monicas - Topanga State Park||3 miles||2 hrs||900'||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 Angeles||Easy to Moderate||Trail/View Hike||Santa Monicas-Hollywood Hills||3 miles||1.5 hrs||800'||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 Hike||Easy||No. Unless you scramble up the sandstone cliffs. Then read Read Adventure Hikes advisories!||Santa Anas - Whiting Ranch Area||4.5 miles||2.5 hrs||550'||Exotic red sandstone formations like Sedona (on a much smaller scale) in the OC with super easy access.|
|Holy Jim Falls||Easy||Waterfall Hike||Santa Anas - Trabuco Creek Area||3 miles||1.5 hrs||700'||Easy hike to lovely 18' waterfall in a beautiful mountain canyon, but a rough road to the trail head.|
|Eaton Canyon Falls||Easy||Waterfall Hike||San Gabriels- Altadena Area||4 miles||1.5 hrs||650'||Nice hike up easy to follow but sometimes crowded trail to mostly year round flowing 40' waterfall.|
|Weir Canyon Trail – Orange County||Easy||Trail/View hike||Santa Anas - 91 Freeway Area||3.5 miles||1.5 hrs||350'||Easy, uncrowded, and surprisingly scenic loop in an unspoiled canyon close to civilization.|
|Sturtevant Falls||Easy||Waterfall Hike||San Gabriels - Santa Anita Canyon||3.5 miles||1.5 hrs||650'||Easy hike, but very popular and often crowded, into gorgeous Santa Anita Canyon to lovely 40' waterfall.|
|Laurel Canyon Loop Trail||Easy||Trail/View Hike||Orange County - Laguna Coast WIlderness Park||3.5 miles||2 hrs||500'||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 Hike||Easy to Moderate||View/Waterfall Hike||Santa Monicas - Malibu Area||3 miles||3 hrs||950'||Hike into a wonderful sea side canyon featuring great ocean views, old growth oak trees, interesting historical ruins, and a lovely seasonal waterfall.|
|Switzer Falls||Easy to Moderate||View/Waterfall Hike||San Gabriels - Arroyo Seco Area||5 - 6 miles||3 - 4 hrs||750'||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 Hike||Easy to Moderate||Trail/View Hike||San Gabriels - Mt Waterman Area||6 miles||4 hrs||1,200||Hike 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 Trail||Easy||Waterfall hike||Santa Monicas - Topanga State Park||2.5 miles||1.5 hrs||250'||Easy hike to a lovely sculpted sandstone gorge with a small seasonal 15′ waterfall.|