12 Top-Rated Hiking Trails in California

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2. Mount Shasta

The majestic snow-capped Mount Shasta is one of the most inspiring places to hike in California. Many visitors come to Mount Shasta seeking a spiritual experience in nature. Adventurous outdoor enthusiasts come for the challenge of climbing to the mountain’s summit. However, Mount Shasta has plenty of hiking trails that are suitable for the average hiker. A popular hike is the Gray Butte Trail, with its trailhead at an impressive 7,500-foot elevation. This moderate four-mile round-trip trail gains 600 feet in elevation and takes about two hours to complete. The trail crosses through the expansive Lower Panther Meadow and continues up through a pristine forest of old-growth Red Fir Trees. At the fork in the trail, the righthand-side ascends through a stand of fragrant Mountain Hemlock Trees. The trail continues past the Lower Peak to the Upper Peak of Gray Butte, offering splendid panoramic views at several vantage points along the way. Hiking Tip: This hike is only accessible in the summer and early fall, from late June until late October.

3. McWay Waterfall Trail: The Most Iconic Site in Big Sur

This trail lies in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, named after the pioneer and frontier woman who owned a ranch in Big Sur country in the early 1900s. The park stretches along the mountainous Big Sur coastline with its 3,000-foot ridges that drop off dramatically into the Pacific Ocean. Lush wooded areas flourish with redwood trees, oaks, and chaparral. The McWay Waterfall Trail is a marvelous hike leading to an overlook that affords a stunning view of the 80-foot waterfall, one of the most breathtaking and frequently photographed sites in Big Sur. Hikers are awestruck by the sight of this magnificent waterfall descending from a sheer granite cliff into the ocean. Despite the grandeur of the scenery, this trail is surprisingly easy and short. The 0.7-mile round-trip hike has only a slight elevation gain of 50 feet and takes only about 30 minutes to complete. Hikers may spend more time admiring the amazing scenery than actually hiking.

4. Sea Lion Point Trail in Point Lobos

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