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West Walker Wild & Scenic Rivers

Features: The West Walker River, from its source in the Hoover Wilderness to where it flows into the Antelope Valley upstream of the town of Walker, was protected as a state wild and scenic river by the California Legislature in 1989. Prior to its designation, the California Natural Resources Agency studied the river and found the…

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Cache Creek
Cache Creek Ridge Trail

[content courtesy of the Tuleyome] Features: A moderate, easy-to-access hike that exemplifies the grasslands, chaparral, and oak woodlands of the Cache Creek area, which is protected as federal wilderness as part of the Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument, and as a state Wild and Scenic River. Driving Directions: For a 10mi one-way trip, take 2 cars.  From…

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Siretta Trail-Domeland Add photo by Steve Evans
Domeland Wilderness

[content courtesy of the Outdoor Project] Features: South along the Pacific Coast Trail from Kennedy Meadows lies the Domeland Wilderness, a vast area of over 130,000 acres traversed by the South Fork of the Kern River. Most of the wilderness is sparse chaparrel; the western side has more trees and meadows that extend into the higher elevations. In the…

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Klamath River Overlook via Coastal Trail

[courtesy of U.S. National Park Service] Distance: This hike is an out and back, totaling roughly 8 miles. It is one section of the longer Coastal Trail, which is around 70 miles along the Northern Coast of California. Time: 3-5 hours, depending on speed and if you explore the spur trails to the tide pools. Elevation Gain/Loss: The…

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Sisquoc WSR
Sisqouc River Trail

(Paraphrased from “Day Hikes Around Santa Barbara” by Robert Stone, Day Hike Books Inc, 2010) Distance: 11.1mi to Sisquoc River Trail intersection (from there out and back to your desired length of the Sisquoc River Trail—if you follow recommendations below, length to Mormon Camp and back is approximately 16 miles). Time: 8-16 hours (or best…

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Underwood Proposed Wilderness Hike

Distance (one way): Approximately 3 miles to the South Fork Trinity River, and 7 miles to the end of the trail at Mule Bridge. Features: The Underwood Proposed Wilderness is located along the boundary of Humboldt and Trinity counties in the Six Rivers National Forest 4 miles east of the town of Willow Creek. The South…

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Merced River hike.JPG
Merced River Hike

Features: The Merced River Canyon downstream of Briceburg on Highway 140 is a great destination for spring camping and hiking. The Merced River Wild and Scenic River leaves Highway 140 and flows west through the Bureau of Land Management’s Merced River Recreation Area.  The BLM manages three small but cozy campgrounds along this stretch of the…

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Amargosa Hikers
Amargosa River Hike

Features: Due to its low elevation and desert environment, fall, winter, and spring are excellent times to visit the Amargosa River. Hiking opportunities along the Amargosa abound near the small towns of Tecopa and Shoshone, south of Death Valley National Park. The Amargosa in this area is a rare watered oasis in an otherwise dry desert.…

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Cottonwood Springs. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Tyson Gillard
Cottonwood Springs

[content courtesy of the Outdoor Project] Features: The climate here doesn’t support Joshua trees, which deters a number of people from making the trek. Consequently, this relatively lesser-trodden hike is perfect for those with limited time or for travelers staying in or passing through the Coachella Valley. The beginning of this loop is nestled into the…

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Owl Canyon-Rainbow Basin-byJess Beauchemin 2
Owl Canyon

[content courtesy of the Outdoor Project] Features: Located in the Rainbow Basin Natural Area (and recently designated as a California Desert National Conservation Land), Owl Canyon is a big bang-for-your-buck hike. In only 2 miles you’ll discover a myriad of geological formations, scramble through a little slot canyon, enjoy seasonal wildflowers and end up at an expansive…

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whitewaterxing by
Canyon View Loop

[content courtesy of the Outdoor Project] Features: The Canyon View Loop begins and ends at the ranger station in the Whitewater Preserve, and it crosses one of the few year-round rivers in the Mojave Desert at multiple points. The trial traces the wash before it joins a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail for a climb up…

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Granite Lake by Steve Evans.
Granite and Hidden Lakes

Features: Granite and Hidden Lakes are scenic gems nestled in a broad rocky and forested slope stretching from Silver Lake on Highway 88 up to a ridge the forms the northern boundary of the Mokelumne Wilderness. Granite Lake is an easy day hike destination for people who want to stretch their legs for 1.5 miles and…

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photo by Jack Schlinkert.
Gaviota Peak

Features: (from Gaviota Peak sits at the lofty west end of the Santa Ynez Mountains behind Santa Barbara. The 2,458-foot peak is just two miles from the Pacific Ocean, putting it in prime position to offer eye-popping views. There are two routes to the summit from the trailhead in Gaviota State Park. The traditional Gaviota Peak…

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Leopard Lily, Pacific Valley by Steve Evans.
Pacific Valley

Features: Anyone exploring the beautiful Pacific Valley must wonder why this 10,500 acre roadless area contiguous to the upper portion of Highway 4 in Alpine County was inexplicably excluded from the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness when the wilderness was established by Congress in 1984. The 160,000-acre Carson-Iceberg Wilderness protects a big chunk of the Sierra Nevada crest…

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Silver Fork, by Steve Evans
Caples Creek

Cascading waterfalls, cool swimming holes, lush meadows, old growth forests, and dramatic rock formations – the Caples Creek roadless area on the Eldorado National Forest has it all. Features: Located north of Highway 88 and south of Highway 50, the Caples Creek area is a short 90- minute drive east of Sacramento. The area consists of…

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North Yolla-Bolly. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Jason Mandly
North Yolla-Bolly

[content courtesy of the Outdoor Project] The Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness anchors the southern extent of the Klamath Mountains and covers over 151,000 acres of land that is rather hard to access. The remoteness of the wilderness combined with the fact that the showier wildernesses to the north tend to attract more people grants a…

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Bristlecone pine by Linda Castro
Methuselah Trail

The Methuselah Trail is located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains in the Inyo National Forest, northeast of Bishop. From the trail you will see the oldest Great Basin Bristlecone pine – Methuselah. Features: Methuselah is more than 4,840 years old.  Compare that to the oldest known giant sequoia, which is only…

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Cozy Dell Trail (Sheldon Canyon/Cozy Dell Canyon)

Here’s a great sunset or half day hike for you Central Coast fans with great views of the Ojai Valley. The moderate hike will lead you through oak groves that provide you with plentiful shade along the way. It’s approximately a 2 hour hike with 700 feet of elevation gain.  Hiking directions: From the parking…

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Mariposa Lily by S Evans
Hite Cove Trail – Proposed Devil Gulch-Ferguson Ridge Wilderness

Features: There’s no better place in the central Sierra Nevada foothills to view a spectacular wildflower display than a hike along the scenic Hite Cove Trail on the Sierra National Forest. A spring hike along this scenic trail is also a great introduction to the proposed Devil Gulch-Ferguson Ridge Wilderness and a great outing to enjoy…

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NewRiver3 Jeff Morris
New River and Virgin Creek

Features: Are you interested in putting your feet on-trail in some of the most rugged and remote country in California?  A day hike (or an overnighter) to the New River and Virgin Creek in the Trinity Alps Wilderness could be a great fit for you and your hiking compadres. Located off of Highway 299 in Northwest…

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Trona Pinnacles

Features: More than two million people visit Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park each year.  While there are many beautiful and interesting places to visit in each of those parks, there are many desert treasures that can be found outside of those national parks.  One of those treasures, Trona Pinnacles, is located about…

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Tenaja Falls
San Mateo Canyon Wilderness: Tenaja Falls Trail

Features: A rare chunk of wilderness surrounded by the southern California mega-cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and the “Inland Empire” of Riverside County, the more than 37,000-acre San Mateo Canyon Wilderness is located in the Santa Ana Mountains and Cleveland National Forest. Its primary feature is the rugged canyon of San Mateo Creek, which flows…

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Ishi Wilderness. Photo by Steve Evans.
Ishi Wilderness: Deer Creek Trail

Features: This unique 41,000-acre area in the Mount Lassen foothills on the Lassen National Forest is named after Ishi. His tribe, the Yahi Indians, formerly lived in the area before being decimated by cattle ranchers in the late 1800s. The Ishi Wilderness is cut by the rugged lava rimrock canyons of Deer and Mill Creeks. These…

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California Wilderness Act Anniversary Hikes

September 28, 2016 marked the 32nd anniversary of the California Wilderness Act, which was approved by Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. This landmark legislation protected more than three million acres of wilderness on federally managed public lands throughout the state and represents one of CalWild’s first major legislative achievements. It was…

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Asa Lake

Elevation gain: Almost none Features: Before 1984, a big chunk of the Sierra Nevada between Ebbetts and Sonora Passes north of Yosemite Park was unprotected and open to development. The California Wilderness Act filled in this threatened link with the establishment of the more than 158,000-acre Carson-Iceberg Wilderness on the Stanislaus and Toiyabe National Forests. Encompassing…

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West Fork National Scenic Bikeway – San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

  Features: The West Fork National Scenic Bikeway offers a unique bicycling and walking experience in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in southern California. It follows a paved utility access road from the trailhead on Highway 39 to a point downstream of Cogswell Dam. The entire trail parallels more than eight miles of the lower West…

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Potrero John Trail

(Taken from “Day Hikes around Santa Barbara” by Robert Stone 2010) Hiking Time: 2 hours Elevation gain: 600ft Features: Potrero John Canyon is tucked into the southern face of Pine Mountain in the Sespe Wilderness. The trail is lightly used and directly located off Hwy. 33 and starts at an elevation of 3,655 feet at the…

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South Fork Trinity River National Recreation Trail

Features: Looking for a new hiking experience? One of California’s most beautiful stretches of river, the Upper South Fork Trinity, could be a great fit for you and your hiking compadres. Located just off of Highway 36 in Northwest California the South Fork National Recreation Trail parallels the South Fork Trinity River, whose headwaters flow…

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Gene Marshall/Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail

(Paraphrased from “Day Hikes Around Santa Barbara” by Robert Stone 2010 Day Hike Books Inc) Distance: 6.4 Miles round trip Time: 3.5 Hours Elevation Gain: 600 ft. Best Map to Use: USGS and USFS Map: Sespe Wilderness Hiking Directions: From the signed path past the Kiosk and restrooms, walk toward the river gorge.  Descend the…

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Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail

Outstanding views of Mount Whitney (the highest peak in the continental United States) and the eastern Sierra escarpment, Lone Pine Creek, the Alabama Hills, and the White and Inyo Mountains are the key features of the Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail. The trail begins in the Lone Pine Campground at 5,900 feet elevation in the…

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photo by Cheryl Frei
Lower Manzana Creek

Distance: 5.6 Miles (3 hours) Elevation Gain/Loss: 250 ft Best Map to Use: USGS and USFS Map: San Rafael Wilderness Features: (Paraphrased from “Day Hikes Around Santa Barbara” by Robert Stone 2010 Day Hike Books Inc) Manzana Creek is a proposed Wild & Scenic River addition in Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (HR 1865 and S. 1423)…

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Kings River
Kings River Trail

Spring is the perfect time to hike the Kings River National Recreation Trail. The trail follows six miles of the magnificent Kings River, through one of the deepest canyons in North America. Below 2,800 feet in elevation, the National Recreation Trail is best hiked in the spring, when the foothills are green and spangled with…

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Whitewater River

Features: The Whitewater River flows freely from the 11,499 foot- high summit of Mount San Gorgonio in the San Bernardino Mountains for more than 30 miles to the Coachella Valley. An area of high ecological significance, the Whitewater River is one of the most pristine and remote watersheds in southern California. A critical biological link…

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South Fork Trinity Trail in Underwood

Features: This 8-mile round trip hike provides access to the proposed Underwood Wilderness, which straddles a segment of the South Fork Trinity Wild & Scenic River between Hyampom to the north and the Trinity River confluence to the south. With relatively easy access from Highway 299, this trail is popular with hikers and hunters. Because…

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Surprise Canyon

Features: Surprise Canyon is a rare perennial desert stream flowing through the spectacular Panamint Mountains. The narrow slot canyon’s year-round stream flow, spring seeps, waterfalls, and riparian vegetation offer outstanding scenery and primitive recreational opportunities. The long day hike or overnight backpack up Surprise Canyon to the abandoned gold mining town of Panamint City in…

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South Fork Trinity River

Features: This trail provides access to the proposed South Fork Trinity Wilderness, which straddles a segment of the South Fork Trinity Wild & Scenic River between Forest Glen and Highway 36 in the north and the town of Hyampom to the south. Recently rebuilt by the Watershed Center in Hayfork, the trail offers a great…

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Features: Sespe Creek flows from the wild Topa Topa Mountains in northern Ventura County. Because most rivers and streams in southern California have been dammed, diverted, and channelized, the free flowing Sespe is a significant low-elevation stream with a relatively high potential for maintaining its ecological integrity, primarily because it flows through public lands (Los…

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San Antonio Creek Falls

Features: San Antonio Creek rises from the sub-alpine heights of the scenic Baldy Bowl and drains the south face of 10,064-foot high Mt. San Antonio (a.k.a. Mt. Baldy). The Forest Service identified a four-mile segment of San Antonio Creek from its source to Mt. Baldy Village to be eligible for National Wild & Scenic River…

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Middle Fork Lytle Creek

Features: Hike through the Cucamonga Potential Wilderness Area and the Middle Fork Lytle Creek Potential Wild & Scenic River. Flowing from the sub-alpine heights of the Cucamonga Wilderness, the Middle Fork Lytle Creek supports a naturally reproducing rainbow trout population prized by anglers and its canyon is home to regionally significant populations of Nelson’s bighorn…

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East Fork San Gabriel

Features: The East Fork San Gabriel River is formed at the confluence of Vincent Gulch and the Prairie Fork. From there, this major fork of the San Gabriel River flows south through the rugged Sheep Mountain Wilderness and potential Wilderness Addition. At Heaton Flat, the East Fork parallels a road all the way to the…

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Deep Creek

Features: Deep Creek flows from the mixed conifer forests of the San Bernardino Mountains through unique, diverse, and spectacular scenery to the the Mojave Desert. Along the way, the creek carves a rugged canyon, tumbling over granite cliffs and around house-sized boulders, and forming limpid pools lined with willow, alder, and cottonwood. The creek supports…

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Trail Canyon Hike – Condor Peak

Features: The proposed 17,084-acre Condor Peak Wilderness is located on the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains, just minutes away from the LosAngeles metropolitan area. The proposed Wilderness encompasses several canyons and creeks flowing into Big Tujunga Canyon from the north. Elevations range from 2,000 feet in Big Tujunga Canyon to about 6,000…

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South Fork Trinity- Chinquapin Proposed Wilderness

Features: This 15-mile trail provides access to the proposed Chinquapin Wilderness, which straddles a segment of the South Fork Trinity River between Forest Road 30 (a.k.a., the Wild-Mad Road) to the north and Highway 36 to the south. Because of its length, the trail offers an ideal backpacking adventure, as well as shorter day hikes,…

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Borrego Palm

Features: Borrego Palm Canyon is a stunning oasis tucked into a rocky gorge. Once the site of over one thousand palms, a flash flood in 2004 wiped out 70 percent of the palm population. You will notice toppled palms along the hike. There are still numerous palms left, and a seasonal waterfall to boot. Early…

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Blue Creek Hike
Blue Creek

Features: The immense diversity of plants and animals in this region sets it apart from most other California wild areas. Unusual soils, great rises and drops in elevation, and plenty of water all combine to offer a refuge for literally thousands of life-forms, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. A few years…

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Fish Canyon
Castaic Potential Wilderness (Fish Trail)

Features: Fish Canyon is part of the nearly 70,000 acre potential Castaic Wilderness, which stretches down from Liebre and Sawmill Mountains to the rugged canyons of Castaic Creek and Fish Canyon in northern Los Angeles County. The forested upper ridges support rare California spotted owl and one of the most diverse oak forests in southern…

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Mad River Buttes
Bug Creek Trail

Features: Ample ancient forest, outstanding wildflower displays, and great views from atop Board Camp Mountain greet visitors. You are also almost guaranteed solitude. Directions: From Highway 101 in Arcata, drive east on Highway 299 for 28 miles to Titlow Hill Road. Turn right (south) on Titlow Hill Road (Forest Highway 1) and drive 19.7 miles…

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Crater Lake
Amboy Crater

Features: This is a short but scenic hike in the newly designated Mojave Trails National Monument. Amboy Crater was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973, due to is visual and geological significance. Although Amboy Crater is not unique, it is an excellent example of a very symmetrical volcanic cinder cone. Due to the often…

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