With almost 100 hikes posted – including diverse destinations as Joshua Tree National Park, the Channel Islands, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Gaviota State Park – there’s no doubt that 2013 was a great year for Nobody Hikes in L.A.! Thank you readers for your continued support, encouragement and generosity. As has become tradition on this site, we look back on the best hikes posted this year. If you didn’t get a chance to visit any of these, put them on your list for 2014. If you’ve hiked these trails for yourself, well, sit back and enjoy the memories.
#13) Mt. Bliss. The long climb up this peak in the San Gabriel foothills might not be very, well, blissful, but the views from the top are great. Highlights include close-up looks at Mt. Baldy and a nearly aerial perspective on the San Gabriel Valley.
#12) Thomas Mountain. One of the more prominent summits in the San Jacinto area south of the Desert Divide, the long hike to Thomas Mountain features a diverse array of trees including cedars, oaks, manzanitas and pines.
#11) Champion Lodgepole/Bluff Lake/Castle Rock. Why not knock off two of Big Bear Lake’s most famous hiking destinations – with a scenic tour of Bluff Lake for good measure – at a time? Attractive forests, mountain and lake views and geology are among this hike’s attractions.
#10) Smuggler’s Cove on Santa Cruz Island. While Potato Harbor may be Santa Cruz Island’s most popular hiking destination, hikers who are up for a challenge will be well rewarded for their efforts with this long hike to the island’s south shore.
#9) Warren Peak. This summit in the northwestern corner of Joshua Tree National Park is one of the area’s highest points, rising almost a mile above sea level. A moderately challenging hike, with some rock scrambling on the summit ridge, brings you to the peak, where the views of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, and the desert below, are hard to beat.
#8) Chaparrosa Peak. This one is a bit of a haul for most L.A. hikers, but this desert summit north of Palm Springs is a must-do. Like Warren Peak, it features great mountain and desert views and a diverse array of plant life and geology, with vistas that are even more panoramic.
#7) Sierra Peak. The northernmost summit of the Santa Anas has some of L.A.’s best views, especially on clear days. If visibility is good, expect to see Catalina Island, the Santa Monica Mountains, the San Jacintos and much more.
#6) West Horsethief/Trabuco Canyon Loop. This ten-mile hike visits the most remote corner of Orange County. Highlights include the secluded, shaded interior of Trabuco Canyon and a scenic walk along Main Divide Road with great views of Mt. Baldy, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto.
#5) Mt. Lukens. There are several approaches to the highest point in the city of Los Angeles, including this loop, conveniently located at Glendale’s Deukmejian Wilderness Park. Phenomenal views of the L.A. Basin and the San Gabriel Mountains are among the rewards for the efforts required for this 10-mile journey.
#4) Cahuilla Mountain. Rising from the desert southwest of the San Jacinto Mountains, Cahuilla is a forested sky island with excellent views all around.
#3) Keller Peak via Exploration Trail. This stunner is one of the overlooked gems of the San Bernardino Mountains – perhaps in all of So Cal. The Exporation Trail leads through an attractive pine forest and Keller Peak’s strategic location yields excellent views of the Inland Empire and the surrounding mountains, making it an obvious choice for the historic lookout tower.
#2) Tahquitz Peak – South Ridge Approach. This route is steeper and possibly more difficult than the common approach from Humber Park and the mile of rough dirt road required to reach the trailhead is a deterrent for some. That being said, the views from Tahquitz are among So Cal’s best, and this approach from the South Ridge Trail is less crowded than the Humber approach.
#1) San Jacinto Peak from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. We wanted hike #500 to be a good one and it doesn’t get much better than this. Even this “easy” route to San Jacinto Peak is an 11-plus mile round trip, but the views, including almost all of So Cal, are worth it.
Well, there you have it – our cream of the crop for 2013. Here’s to a happy, safe and successful 2014 on and off the trails for all of us!