Lace Up Your Sneakers and Let’s Get Movin’!
SoCal is a hiker’s haven–our diverse landscapes and sunny-day views rival any place on earth. From slot canyons and ocean views to skylines and the Hollywood Sign, these fun-for-the-whole-family hiking trails in Southern California highlight the Golden State’s wild side and give kids the chance to connect with nature and get into those earthy vibes early. Pack the organic trail mix and lace up those little hiking boots—it’s time to hit the trails with your kiddos!
Griffith Observatory Hike, Los Angeles
E Observatory Trail, Los Angeles, CA 90027
East Observatory Trail has some of the best views in all of SoCal. Not only does this hike offer incredible skyline views of downtown LA, but hikers can marvel at the iconic Hollywood Sign from just across the park. This mile-and-a-half stroll gives kids a taste of wilderness and a new perspective on the city. Take a mid-hike break to roam the halls of Griffith Observatory before heading back down.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego
12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Pack the kiddos’ favorite snacks and all of their best beach toys for this nice and easy 2.3-mile trek at the Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop. The ocean views on this trail, paired with the desert vegetation and dramatic cliffs, will have kids feeling like pirates searching for their buried treasure. Because this trail hits the beach, be prepared for sand, an ocean dip and the hike back up.6/12
Eaton Canyon Trail, Pasadena
1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91001
Eaton Canyon Trail is on the longer side and is thought of as moderately difficult, so this hike is better for older children with some hiking experience. The payoff for this hike is spectacular, as it’s one of the few places in SoCal with a real waterfall. Especially with this year’s rains, the water will be flowing, and the area will be teeming with life. Definitely worth the extra effort!
Lake Hollywood Reservoir Hike, Los Angeles
6381-6399 Weidlake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
This scenic walk, meandering the paved trail around the Lake Hollywood Reservoir, is a lovely way to spend a family day. Pick a sunny morning to visit and enjoy the company of other families and visitors gazing at the Hollywood Sign and the hills of Los Angeles. The trail circles the whole reservoir, so over the course of 3.5 miles, there are plenty of angles for that perfect family photo.6/20
Solstice Canyon Trail, Malibu
Intersection of Corral Canyon Rd and Solstice Canyon Rd, Malibu, CA, 90265
This is a hike for the older kids that is sure to capture imaginations. This trail was once home to a mansion that burned down, so kids can explore ruins right in LA. The hike has it all—a waterfall, ocean views, tons of plant life and even a ghost story. This trail is relatively easy but has plenty of options to toughen it up a bit for even more picturesque views.
Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, Pearblossom
28000 Devil’s Punchbowl Rd, Pearblossom, CA 93553
Don’t let the name scare you—Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area offers an easy one-mile loop full of geologic wonder. Kids will be able to get a hands-on earth science experience while playing among the ancient rock formations. Teach kids about the marvels of California’s seismic history with this visual lesson on how the earth moves–highlighted by the sandstone outcroppings, which form a striking silhouette jutting out from the hillsides.
Topanga State Park, Los Angeles
Santa Ynez Canyon Trailhead – Topanga State Park, Santa Ynez Canyon Trail, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Topanga State Park has dozens of miles of hiking trails and is one of the best places in Los Angeles to escape the city and connect with nature. The Santa Ynez Trail is full of wildflowers this year and follows a running creek up to the falls. There is a pretty steep elevation change on this two-mile hike, so be sure to prepare and stretch.
Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, San Diego
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Trail, San Diego, CA 92130
Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is a beautiful park located in San Diego, which features a variety of trails suitable for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The park is known for its varied plantlife and lively and unique blend of wildlife (be on the lookout for Pacific tree frogs and crawfish). Los Penasquitos Creek Trail is relatively flat, but as a 6.4-mile loop, it may still take a while for the you and the kids to complete, so pack a lunch, some sunscreen and lots of water.
El Dorado Nature Center, Long Beach
7550 E Spring St, Long Beach, CA 90815
Nestled into a wooded corner of Long Beach, El Dorado Nature Center provides opportunities for outdoor family fun. Try a nature walk on the dirt trails that wind through lakes, woods and a stream throughout the park. There are also guided programs and camps for kids where they can learn about plants, animals and the importance of conservation. This park is a great city escape, and your kids will love going back again and again.
Peters Canyon Regional Park, Orange County
8548 E Canyon View Ave, Orange, CA 92869
Peters Canyon is a popular hiking spot for the OC locals. Conveniently located right by Villa Park, be sure to stop by Tru Bru in Orange before hitting up this six-mile circuit that’s complete with reservoir views. With SoCal’s abundant rain this past winter, this trail may just give the kids a chance to play in the mud. This hike gets busy, so be ready to show up early and share the trail.
Annie’s Canyon Trail, Solana Beach
498-450 Solana Hills Dr, Solana Beach, CA 92075
The slot canyons of the “mushroom caves” at Annie’s Canyon Trail in Solana Beach are a must-visit for California hikers. Kids will love exploring these canyons and caves, but parents should watch closely, as some of the areas can be slippery or unstable. The tight canyons loop around a two-mile circuit for views of the lagoon and the surrounding landscapes, ending with a ladder climb out of the stunning rock formations. Adventure awaits!