In California, there are many great hikes for families. You will find a wide range of trails that can provide a fun and exciting activity for your family. From the Pacific Coast Trail to the Pinnacles National Park, we’ve highlighted the 15 best hiking trails for families in California. The two most popular hikes in CA are coastal and inland, so no matter where you live in the state, there is a trail close by! We hope this guide helps you choose a hike near your home so all your family members can enjoy getting out into nature with each other. Happy hiking!
1. Pinnacles National Park
Trip Length: Short (less than 1 mile) to moderate (4-8 miles) This national park is perfect for families with young children and those who aren’t as enthusiastic about hiking. Some of the trails can be steep and rocky, but they are short and lead to incredible views of the rolling hills and caves. There are also plenty of flat trails where you can take a family picnic break! Although this park is less visited than others, we recommend planning your trip on a weekday or during the off-season if you hope to avoid lots of crowds, especially at the picnic areas.
2. Los Angeles River Trail
Trip Length: Short (less than 1 mile) to moderate (4-8 miles) The Los Angeles River Trail is a great place to go hiking with your family because it has trails that follow the river’s curves and flows, flat areas where you can stop for snacks, and an abundance of bike riding trails. We recommend parking at Griffith Park. From here, you’ll be able to access several courses on foot or by bike. There are no bathrooms or trash cans, so make sure to bring portable potties and pack out what you packed in!
3. Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve
Length: Moderate (4-8 miles) This park has beautiful amenities, including restrooms, picnic tables, and a visitor center. This hike is an excellent choice for families because it has several trails, including some easy ones that are perfect for young children and those not as enthusiastic about hiking. For example, the Battle Creek trail is gentle and follows a creek most of the way up to the ridge line with gorgeous views along the way.
4. Wilder Ranch State Park
Length: Moderate (4-8 miles) If you’re looking for a beautiful place to take a family picnic, then Wilder Ranch State Park is your best choice! It’s also a fantastic spot to go hiking or mountain biking, depending on what time of year you visit. The park has restrooms and drinking water available, so bring your binoculars if you’d like an afternoon bird watching! The views of the ocean are gorgeous but remember that it can be windy, so dress accordingly.
5. San Clemente State Beach
Trip Length: Short (less than 1 mile) to moderate (4-8 miles) If you live in southern California, San Clemente State Beach is a perfect place to visit with your family. This beach has a fantastic boardwalk that’s fun for all ages, and there is plenty of sand for the little ones to explore safely. There are bathrooms and showers located at the park entrance, making it easy to clean up after a day in the sand. Try walking along the shoreline during low tide when it’s easier to spot shells, crabs, and fish hiding in the rocks!
6. Crystal Cove State Park
Length: Moderate (4-8 miles) Another gorgeous southern California beach makes for a perfect family-friendly hike in Crystal Cove. This park has many trails along the shores and through redwood groves which are great to follow with young children or those who might not be the most enthusiastic about hiking. There are picnic tables all around the park, so it’s easy to stop for lunch. If you visit during low tide, you’ll see lots of beautiful starfish in the tide pools!
7. Baker Beach
Trip Length: Short (less than 1 mile) This beach is famous for its amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge, so if you would enjoy spotting a landmark, then this is the perfect hike for your family! There are also many areas to explore, and it’s a fantastic place to bring a blanket and have a picnic. It does get very windy, so dress accordingly if you plan on taking lots of pictures.
8. Watts Towers
Trip Length: Short (less than 1 mile) The Watts Towers are a fantastic folk art park created from found objects such as seashells, glass bottles, tile pieces, metal scraps, stones, and pottery by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. These towers will give you a good sense of creativity and imagination! You can walk along the paths or climb them for more unique views of Los Angeles’ skyline. This location doesn’t have restrooms, parking, or even shade, so be sure to bring plenty of water and wear hats and sunscreen.
9. Saddle Back mountain
Length: Moderate (4-8 miles) If you’re looking for some great views of the valley, then Saddle Back Mountain is your best choice! This hike isn’t challenging, but it can be pretty windy at times, so dress accordingly. There are okay views of Los Angeles, but the main reason this location makes our list is that it’s an excellent place to go stargazing! The summit has a unique 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, and there aren’t many lights around, so it makes seeing constellations easy.
10. Indian Canyons
Trip Length: Short (less than 1 mile) to moderate (4-8 miles) Indian Canyons consist of three different canyons located near Palm Springs and make for a great day trip from Los Angeles. The canyons have been around since the early 1900s and were created by the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians who lived in the area. There are walking trails, bike paths, picnic tables, and public restrooms, so you don’t need to worry about bringing anything except your clothes! This location requires an entrance fee, but it’s worth it if you love learning about local history. Our favourite is ladder canyon.
11. Angels Point Trail
Trip Length: Moderate (4-8 miles) Angels Point Trail is an excellent hike to take if you’re hoping to see some pretty waterfalls along the way. The trail takes about 4 hours round trip, and it’s not too strenuous so that it can be enjoyable for people of all ages! Quite a few steps make this hike much more complex than other trails, but it’s worth seeing. This location does charge an entrance fee, and there aren’t any bathrooms or parking spots, so make sure to plan before going!
12. Castaic Lake Trails
Length: Moderate (4-8 miles) Castaic Lake is a beautiful place near Santa Clarita that’s popular for boating, fishing, and hiking. This lake has many trails surrounding it, so you can pick one that suits your family best! The courses are dog-friendly, but they do require a permit to enter the park.
13. Hollywood Sign Trail
Length: Easy (1 mile) This is more of an easygoing walk along Hollywood Blvd than an actual hike, but it’s still worth mentioning because there are some great views of the city from here! You can get up close to some movie stars’ handprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre while seeing the Hollywood sign at the same time! Be sure to dress for the weather since it can get chilly, but there are no bathrooms or parking here.
14. Mount Hollywood Hike
Length: Moderate (4-8 miles) Mount Hollywood is a short hike with a fantastic view of Los Angeles! It’s about 4 miles round trip and has 1,625 feet of elevation gain which means it isn’t too strenuous. Some other trails lead up Mount Hollywood as well, so feel free to explore if you’re feeling adventurous! This hike does require an entrance fee, and there aren’t any bathrooms on site either.
15. Hansen Dam Loop Trail
Trip Length: Short (less than 1 mile) Hansen Dam is a great place to go if you’re looking for some outdoor activities in Los Angeles. There are hiking trails around the entire reservoir, so it’s fun to walk along the paths and see what they have to offer! This location does require an entrance fee, but there are public restrooms on-site. The trail at this park is pretty easy, making for a good hike if you want something relaxing.
With so many hikes to choose from, it can be hard to find the right one for your family. We’ve narrowed down 15 top trails that are perfect for those seeking a day of outdoor fun with their loved ones. Have we missed any of the best hiking trails for families in California? Share your favourites in the comments below.
Author bio: Jess C is an Aeronautical Engineer who is passionate about anything with a motor on it. When I am not working, I spend my time travelling.