Hiking along California’s coastline is one of the state's most treasured and cherished resources, with good reason. The diversity in topography includes soaring cliffs, sandy beaches, and shaded redwood forests. For animal lovers, sea otters, whales, native birds, seals, butterflies, and wild horses can be seen along the coastline. Hiking along the California coast guarantees outdoor enthusiasts plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Pacific Ocean waves anytime they please, so bring your swimsuit. It’s a great opportunity to stretch the legs and lungs while falling back in love with nature!
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a gorgeous and serene reserve with rare trees, migrating gray whales in winter, and an easy trail that offers incredible views. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a beautiful place to walk, hike, bike ride, or bird watch. For those who are looking for adventure, there's the Guy Fleming Trail which is considered by many as San Diego County's top hike.
The trail encompasses some of the most rugged and scenic coastal redwood forests in North America, as well as amazing views along its gorgeous coastline with breezes blowing off the Pacific Ocean. Although often rated as difficult, spending time hiking one or all of the 18 sections is worth it. The Pacific Coastal Trail is 1,200 miles long, and Damnation Creek is one of the most breathtaking portions. Located near the Oregon state line means enjoying sights that can't be captured by camera!
The Boucher Trail is the perfect place to get pictures of elephant seals in their natural habitat. Nestled just north of San Luis Obispo and south of Hearst Castle, you'll see more than a million northern elephant seal rookeries that offer views like nowhere else. It's a boardwalk trail, so you can walk it year-round. It gets pretty narrow at parts, and on some parts of it, you'll have to duck under or climb over certain fences. But luckily, there is a railing to help guide the way if needed.
The Kortum Trail is a 5-mile round-trip trail perfect for all skill levels and includes many opportunities to watch seabirds and whales. Hikers can spend hours exploring the side trips down to the beach or tackling rock formations in this scenic area of Sonoma Coast State Park, located an hour and a half from San Francisco. This trail provides hikers with many opportunities to explore both Wright’s Beach and Blind Beach, as well as take in some spectacular views of wildflowers.
Tomales Point Ridge trails are in northern California, near the town of Marshall, and make a great travel destination for hiking enthusiasts year-round! The trail is a scenic out-and-back trail located at the northern end of Point Reyes National Seashore. Hikers have an opportunity to view all kinds of wildlife, including an elk. The first three miles of this hike follow an old ranch road and provide views across fields as far as the eye can see.
The Bodega Bay Trailhead is a popular spot with both locals and visitors. You can take an easy loop that will meander past bluffs, or you can hike to the rocky edge for some scenic views of Horseshoe Cove and the marine reserve in Bodega Bay's peninsula. This easy 1-mile loop along the coastline is a great chance to take frequent breaks to snap photos and enjoy a picnic lunch. If you're looking for an easy hike with a beautiful coastal view, the Bodega Bay Trailhead is your go-to spot.
The Alamere Trail inside Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County is a rewarding hike that leads to 40-foot Alamere Falls. The trail starts 3 miles from the famous lighthouse, and hikers should plan on an hour or two for each way of this 6-mile journey rated as moderately difficult. Be prepared with plenty of drinking water, especially in the summer. Hikers have various routes they can take to enjoy the coastline. Find outdoor trails at Point Reyes National Seashore near Monterey Bay.
Fort Funston, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco, features 200-foot-high bluffs and long sandy beaches dotted with succulents. Apart from being a popular dog walking and hang gliding area along the coast, there is an extensive network of trails that will appeal to all types of hikers. The trek down to the beach is steep but beautiful. If you're not feeling up for strenuous exercise on your vacation, consider hiking one of many flat paths at the top, where views stretch out as far as you can see in either direction!
Redwood National and State Parks offer a variety of trails throughout Northern California. With 70 miles of trails, hikers are bound to find one that best suits their needs and abilities. The trails can be used for day hikes or connected multi-day backpacking trips in the 3,000 acres' worth of forested land at your disposal. Hikers should be sure to obtain permits when camping. Along these diverse routes through old-growth forests, keep an eye out for sea wildlife bobbing along in tide pools. If lucky, visitors may see whales, sharks, seals, or otters.
Join a 2-mile hike and take in the beautiful serene views of Cambria, California! The trail is specifically designed for people with limited mobility. Bring your pet along if you want to make this an extra special family adventure day out. Enjoy stunning sea bluffs while walking through quaint towns or resting on one of the many benches offered at scenic spots such as Moonstone Beach Park, where seals play by the shoreline. The boardwalk is great for people that prefer a casual walk without getting their shoes dirty. Moonstone beach park is a great place to go night swimming under an endless sky full of stars!