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Best Hikes Before Summer Ends

Published: 10/7/15

Hiking can be a great way to work out and build up endurance – all while taking in some of the most beautiful vistas in the West. California and Arizona have some of the most picturesque landscapes for hiking. Consider hiking at least one of these beautiful locations during periods of good weather:

Southern California Hikes

Malibu Creek

This California state park offers a number of hikes, ranging from easy climbs for beginners to full-day loops for expert explorers. Either way, hikers enjoy the scenic paths as they cross the old ranch buildings and movie sets that are still present in Malibu Canyon. Some hikers enjoy taking a break to wade into the various water sources found throughout the trails, including the Rock Pool, reservoirs, and the creek, especially on hot summer days in California.

Bridge to Nowhere

While the Bridge to Nowhere is not known for being a comfortable hike, hikers receive their pay off when they complete the ten-mile adventure as they arrive at the pools right after the bridge. Hikers can take a break and float in the cool waters before they start their decline.

Torrey Pines State National Reserve

Choose from three trails with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Both Razor Point (1.3 miles) and Guy Fleming (0.7 miles) trails give you great vantage points to see the waves, and maybe sneak a peek of a pod of dolphins whales off the coast. These two trails require little skill level, and are fairly accessible to most. If you want to get closer to the water, check out the 1.7 mile Beach Trail, which involves a steeper hike that leads to the sand.

Icehouse Canyon

This trail commences at about 5,000 feet, making it a more comfortable hike due to the mountainous breezes and dropped temperatures. A creek also runs through the lower canyon, adding to the fun of this popular hike. A variety of hiking destinations are available here for hikers looking for moderate climbs, including trails leading up Cucamonga Peak, Ontario Peek, Timber Mountain, and the Wilderness Boundary.

Mount Baldy

California hikers instantly recognize this mountain as being the highest peak in Los Angeles County and among the San Gabriel Mountains. This hike is not for the novice, with its significant elevation gain and distance. However, hikers can experience fresh mountain breezes and can cheat a little by taking the ski lift on weekends for help through the hike or to take a meal break.

Lake Poway to Mount Woodson

Known for incredible views and the iconic “Potato Chip Rock”, this hike offers a new perspective of San Diego. You won’t find oceans and palm trees atop Mount Woodson, but climb on to the Potato Chip, and get a breathtaking view of San Diego’s hills and mountains. The hike is fairly steep, and has little relief on the way to the top. It is recommended to get started early in the day with ample water, before the heat (and Potato Chip Rock crowd) picks up.

Arizona Hikes

Camelback Mountain

Located in the capital city, Camelback Mountain is a more ambitious climb for those individuals who are really interested in ramping up their endurance levels. In only 1.2 miles, the climb gains 1,264 feet, with a lot of bouncing between large boulders. Hikers who are just beginning may not be equipped to deal with the experience and the extreme exertion levels required by this trail. Experienced climbers take about two hours to clear the hike and return.

West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon

Winding around a scenic creek, this lush hike makes you forget the desert that comprises most of Arizona. Many hikers stop about two miles into the hike, but there are even more incredible and scenic views that await you if you continue a little longer. Some hikers even swim through part of the trail.

Mount Humphrey

If you’re up for a challenge, Mount Humphrey is the highest mountain in Arizona. Take the Inner Basin Trail for seven miles to get a bird’s eye view of the Grand Canyon on a clear day. A less ambitious hike is the Summit Trail, which takes about six hours to complete and gets to the peak near the Arizona Snowbowl Skiing area.

Mount Lemmon

Located about an hour’s drive from Tucson, Mount Lemmon is a hidden gem in the desert. Pine trees, ski lifts, and a quaint village with delicious cookies make this a great change in scenery from rocky mountains and cacti. The mountain offers a list of activities throughout the year, from fishing to snowboarding. Make the most out of the end of summer, and catch a ride on the ski lift for great views. Choose from a variety of hikes to get your fill of forest fresh air.

Flat Iron

Right outside Phoenix, this hike features a steep incline. After approximately 2.5 miles in length and an elevation gain of 2,400 feet, you will be close to the top where you can view the Superstition Mountains, the city skyline, and the Four Peaks wilderness.