Sitting at your computer and wondering what to do this weekend? How about throwing a few bottles of water and a PB&J into a backpack and get hiking? Northern California’s weather is incredible this time of year; clear skies, a light breeze and just enough sun to feel real good outside. Don’t feel like doing anything crazy-strenuous? That’s totally fine. We’ve got you covered. Here are 13 hiking trails under 5 miles that even your grandma would love.
1. Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith State Park
Only 9 miles east of Crescent City is this gorgeous state park. It lies alongside the Smith river and has LOTS of hiking trails. Feel like being lazy? Take the half-mile hike around Stout Grove, or as we call it, "Mother Nature's Cathedral."
2. Boy Scout Tree Trail, Jedediah Smith State Park
Since you're already here at Jedediah Smith, you might want more than a half hour hike? Then take the 5.3 mile Boy Scout Tree Trail. We're bending the rules with this one. If you go up and back it's twice that, but this hike is so worth it and it highlights some of the most incredible parts of Redwood forest known to man. Make sure to get there early. This one is getting more popular.
3. Montgomery Grove Trail, Mondocino
Take this scenic road in (Orr Springs Rd.) to meet the trailhead in Montgomery Woods. This spot is pretty remote and at least a 30 minute drive from a freeway. But the ride there is scenic and lovely. Only a 2 mile hike, this is the Shangri-La of hiking spots for sure.
4. Tall Trees Grove, Redwood National Park
This trail is 3.9 miles long. You're going to climb over 650 feet as you walk this path. Here's where you'll find the Libbey Tree. Once believed to be the tallest tree in the world, it's since been overshadowed by a few others, however, no one knows the others' whereabouts. They're kept secret.
5. Sun Trail (OR) 6. Dipsea Trail, Muir Woods
There are two trails to choose from here. Sun Trail is 4.7 miles of scenic views. Climb a hill that gives you a breathtaking view of Mt. Tamalpais. Don't feel like taking this one? Then follow the arrow to the Dipsea trail. This 3.7-mile loop hike takes you to ocean views and back into the Redwoods again. While these trees aren't as impressive as other areas, there are fewer folks who know about this one. Be warned: there's a 14-rung ladder that can be slippery. Not always fun for children - or nervous parents.
7. Floating Island Lake Trail, Tahoe
Just 1.6 miles until you're seeing this. Walk along a wooded path with the most amazing nature sites around. Don't wait for a better weekend. Go now!
8. Bridge Trail, Pescadero County Park
This trail is 1.1 miles of lush green ferns and a babbling creek. What more could you ask for? Stop along the bank and read a book for awhile. Snap photos of wildlife beneath the canopy of trees.
9. Hidden Falls Trails, Auburn Regional Park
10. Codfish Falls Trail, Auburn
This trail is 1.7 miles and takes around an hour. The difficulty level is easy to moderate - even a mom with a baby can do it. Follow along some pretty parts of the North Fork American River. Just know, there are some steep drop-offs to the river below. So if heights aren't your thing then this one isn't for you.
11. Pfeiffer Falls Trail, Big Sur State Park
This 2.5-mile hike is the most popular one at Big Sur. Begin by the lodge and climb a tree-covered hill to reach a pretty awesome waterfall. Then head on a bit farther to see the valley below. Gorgeous!
12. Bumpass Hell Trail, Old Station
This trail offers 2.9 miles of hiking wonderland, but it's only open from June until October. This hike boasts nature's still busy volcanic activity below. A popular hike not only for the scenery but for the occasional streams of thermal mist that come from the earth below.
13. Cascade Falls Trail, Lake Tahoe
Ever looked DOWN a waterfall? Here's your chance. Only a two-mile jaunt into heaven. Walk along the mountainside with Cascade Lake in view, and you'll feel like you're in a fairy tale. Bring along a camera. You'll want to remember this.
It’s pretty safe to say that Northern California is the bomb when it comes to meandering paths and rocky peaks that are just waiting for our hiking boots. You’ve been given your marching orders, people. Get out there and enjoy the prettiest part of the country that you get to call home.