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California has a lot to offer in the way of beaches, entertainment and such. Many people fail to realize there are tremendous hiking opportunities, particularly in the south.
When discussing hiking in California, it is important to get a caveat out of the way. You can go hiking on any of the beaches and walk for days. It is a good time since you can people watch and there are also plenty of places to stop for food and grog. That being said, I am not going to include beaches in this list of hiking trails. If you want to hike them, you already know where they are.
The trails in Torrey Pines State Reserve make for good day hikes. Although very close to the ocean, they are located about 300 feet up on a bluff overlooking the north end of La Jolla. This is one of the only places in the world where the Torrey Pine grows, thus the name. There are three loop trails known by the names Parry Grove Trail, Guy Fleming Trail and Broken Hill Trail. They total about a mile and a half, which isn’t particularly long. That being said, you will be stopping all the time to take in the views and a mass of birds. To get to the entrance of the park, just take the only exit on Highway 101 between Del Mar and La Jolla.
The Cuyamaca Mountains offer some of the best trails in California. A personal favorite is the Oakzanita Peak Trail. It doesn’t look like much from the base, but it blossoms as you go through the Oak Trees and Manzanitas until you hit the peak with amazing views. The trail is 8.2 miles round trip and takes about four hours if it is cool. If it is hot, add another hour for breaks. Total elevation gain is about 1,200 feet. To get there, you need to get on highway 79 and find mile marker 3.7. There is a turnout where you can park. The trail head is at the turnout.
Joshua Tree National Park is the legendary location of some of the best trails in California. Eureka Peak is a popular trail since it summits at one of the best spots to take in the park. The trail is great because the first few miles run through a Joshua tree forest before you start heading up 1,500 feet to the peak. The total length there and back is about 10 miles and the trip takes 5 hours in total. The trail is easy to find. Just go to the Black Rock Canyon Campground and ask for directions. The trail starts in the campground.
If you know where to look, you can work out those boots pretty easily in California. This is only a sampling of the possibilities, so get out there and explore.