Hiking Guides For Everyone
Hi, I’m Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional hiking guide. I created this site to share all the great hikes I do with everyone out there. This site is different in that it gives very detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I share the hiking tricks and tips that I’ve learned over the years to fast-track you into a hiking pro. And I tell you what hiking gear works and what gear doesn’t so you don’t waste your money. I depend on your support to keep this site ad and promotion free. See ya out on the trails…
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Don’t waste your money on hiking gear that’s no good; I’ve already done that for you! Here’s my trail-tested best hiking gear list, last updated . I only recommend hiking gear that I’ve used over hundreds of miles. I don’t do any paid or sponsored reviews, and I don’t waste your time with gear that doesn’t make the cut. This is only the good stuff.
The Garmin inReach Mini packs some powerful features into s small and reasonably priced package. You can send and receive your GPS location to anyone with a text or email (or another inReach Mini) in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. You can also receive messages, allowing you to communicate with family, friends, and emergency services. Additional features on the inReach Mini allow you to get weather reports, track your trip and share with friends, and perform navigation. There are some limitations, and I’ll cover that later, but all-in-all, the inReach Mini is a solid device that I highly recommend.
The GPSMAP 66i is Garmin’s top-of-the-line handheld GPS unit with InReach satellite communications built-in. It’s a solid device built for outdoor use and navigation. I’ve logged months of testing and use for this Garmin GPSMAP 66i review, and while it’s a solid unit, it’s also probably not for everyone. In this review I’ll give you my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t, I’ll compare it to devices like the InReach Explorer, I’ll give you my recommendations for the 66i, and I’ll show you how to use the device.
This 11 mile Mt Baldy hike brings you to the highest point in LA at 10,064 feet. With almost 4000 feet of climbing, it’s a tough yet popular hike, and well worth the effort. You can see from the Pacific to the Mojave on a clear day. There are a few ways to hike Mt Baldy, and this guide takes you on the most popular route.
Mt Baldy, CA - 11 miles, Hard
The Mt Whitney hike is on every hiker’s bucket list. At 14,505 feet, it’s the highest point in the lower 48 and is one of those rare high peaks that you can hike to without any mountaineering skills. There is some prep work you need to do, like getting your Mt Whitney permit and dealing with the altitude. This hiking guide has everything you need to know to successfully climb Mt Whitney. Keep reading for all the info.
Whitney Portal, CA - 22 miles, Very Hard
The hike up to Half Dome, towering over the Yosemite Valley at 8846 feet, is one of the great bucket list hikes. You’ll pass iconic waterfalls, hike through majestic sequoias, and then pull yourself up steel cables to stand at the summit. There’s a lot to know before you start; this isn’t just a hike where you show up at the trailhead and go. There’s a decent amount of anxiety about the cables section of the hike for a lot of folks. In this guide, I will cover everything you need to know in a simple and step-by-step way. I’ll help you prepare, conquer your fears, bag the summit, and have a great time in the process.
Yosemite Village, CA - 17 miles, Very Hard
The rim-to-rim hike in the Grand Canyon is iconic, spectacular, and challenging. Over my years of hiking the rim-to-rim, I’ve seen people of all shapes and sizes hike across the Grand Canyon, and in this guide, I’m going to give you all the information you need to know so that you can hike it too. Your journey will start months before stepping foot on the trail, as planning is critical for this popular bucket list hike. And then, armed with the correct information and preparation, you’ll know what to expect as you leave 99.9% of the other Grand Canyon visitors behind and hit the trail to cross one of the seven wonders of the world. And in case you’re wondering, although you’ll be exhausted at the end, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel at the end is unparalleled.
Grand Canyon Village, AZ - 21 miles, Very Hard
The 41.5 mile Timberline Trail, which circles Oregon’s highest point, Mt Hood, dropping in and out of glacier-carved canyons, is a classic that should be on everyone’s bucket list. There’s a lot to love about the Timberline Trail: a well-worn path above and below the timberline (the altitude where trees stop growing), epic views of Mt Hood and the other peaks of the Cascades, glaciers, waterfalls, volcanic rock, alpine meadows, wildflowers, and rich history (it’s also a National Historic Trail). Numerous tent sites along the trail and an easy permit system make tackling the Timberline in 2-4 days straightforward. In this guide I’ll explain everything you need to know to plan your trip, and then do the hike.
Government Camp, OR - 41.5 miles, Hard
The Trans Catalina Trail, a mini, 38.5-mile thru-hike across the rugged island of Catalina, is a very doable adventure for almost every hiker and backpacker. Most people take between two and five days to complete the trail, which winds its way around Catalina. Along the way, you’ll experience expansive ocean views, the unique Channel Islands ecology, challenging terrain, and spectacular beachside campgrounds. In this complete Trans Catalina Trail (TCT) guide, I’ll show you everything you need to know to hike the trail and plan it out so that it’s a perfect fit for your hiking abilities.
Avalon, CA - 38.5 miles, Hard
This easy hike to Barbara’s Lake, one of Orange County’s only naturally occurring lakes, is well worth a go. While close to suburbia, the lake lies within the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve, an island of natural beauty where the land looks as it did hundreds of years ago. This guide will show you a pleasant loop that takes you to the lake, up a small climb, and then back along a ridge offering expansive views. You can also hike to Barbara’s Lake and turn around for a shorter experience.
Laguna Beach, CA - 2.9 miles, Easy
In this short video I’ll explain why automatically sharing your hikes and outdoor activity data with Strava helps trail advocates and land planners get the information they need to improve the outdoor experience.
Yes, more Sugarloaf Peaks. We have a pair of them this time, and they’re in Cleveland National Forest. This challenging route on the popular San Juan Trail, once a native path traversing the Santa Anas, brings you to Old Sugarloaf and (new) Sugarloaf, which you can bag and enjoy some great views in the process. It’s a challenging hike into a remote section of this rugged and underrated area.
Lake Elsinore, CA - 13.9 miles, Hard
I spent 100 miles testing the popular Oboz Sawtooth hiking shoes, and while they were good, they didn’t even compare to the comfort that my Altra Lone Peak 6 trail runners provided. In this video, I’ll briefly cover the differences between a hiking shoe and the Altra Lone Peak so that if you are trying to make a decision, you’ll have some insight from actual experience.
The Condor Peak Trail is an underrated gem. Sitting at 5,440 feet above the western section of Angeles National Forest, Condor Peak was once the home to nesting (and now endangered) California Condors. The Condors are long gone, but the trail is still there and well-maintained, offering a challenging hike with breathtaking views. There are a few routes to Condor Peak, and in this guide, I’ll show you what is considered the most popular route up the Condor Peak Trail.
Tujunga, 91042 - 15.2 miles, Hard
If you’re shopping for a bear canister or bear storage bag, knowing how much food fits into one is tough to find out. This video will test the BearVault BV450, BearVault BV500, Ursack AllMitey 10 Liter, and Grubcan to see how much food actually fits in the container and then find out how much room the containers take up in a backpack.
If you’re looking for a hidden gem, the Bedford Peak Trail is for you. You’ll get an excellent workout climbing about 2000 feet in 3 miles, and at the top, you have gorgeous views of the Santa Anas, Angeles National Forest, Catalina, and on a clear day, the higher peaks of SoCal. Overall it’s an underrated gem.
Silverado, CA - 7.2 miles, Hard
The 9.60 firmware update brings course functionality to the Garmin GPSMAP 66 series. Courses are a bit of a hybrid between tracks and routes. In this video, I’ll show you how to create a course and then navigate it using your GPSMAP 66 series device.
The Boo Hoff Trail, which follows a native path into the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains, is filled with desert beauty and panoramic views. This loop is a challenging route that offers a solid climb, a descent into Devil Canyon and around Lake Cahuilla, and a hike back on the Cove to Lake Trail. Overall the Boo Hoff loop is a challenging hike that offers a little of everything.
La Quinta, CA - 12.8 miles, Hard
Now that the Chinese satellite positioning system, Beidou, is supported on more GPS and wearables, I’ve been getting asked if it’s safe to use. In this short video, I’ll explain the issues so you can make an educated decision on whether to use Beidou or not.
In this short video I’ll walk you through the tools I use to navigate on the trail, including planning, on-trail dashboards and nav check-ins, workout recording, and then post-hike sharing.
While there are several ways to summit Wright Mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains, this route from Inspiration Point is my favorite. You’ll follow the spine known as the Blue Ridge, which is packed with views of the surrounding high peaks, and you’ll get to experience the iconic PCT along the way. It’s also one of the rare hikes in the area that traverses Angeles NF and San Bernardino NF on the same trail.
Valyermo, CA - 14 miles, Hard
In this video I’ll walk you through the Osprey Talon 6 (similar to the women’s Tempest 6), share my experience of hiking 100 miles with it, and make some recommendations on whether the Talon 6 is right for you.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a real gem in Southern California. Its 7000 acres of protected land are one of the last bastions of coastal wilderness. This park is what Orange County coast looked like before man started developing here. You’ll enjoy pristine coastal sage scrub, ridges with panoramic views, wildlife including over 40 endangered species, and some unique ecology. The park has over 40 miles of trails, and this loop of 7.6 miles is what one park ranger once laid out for me as the “best of ” loop, giving you a taste of everything the park has to offer.
Laguna Beach, CA - 7.5 miles, Moderate
In this quick video I’ll explain what Return Link Service (RLS) is for PLBs and tell you why you’d want to consider it for a new PLB purchase.
Backpacking for beginners doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it is. Unfortunately, the massive amount of information online, coupled with pundits’ strong opinions, can be overwhelming for many day hikers looking to make the switch. The good news is that backpacking is much simpler than you probably think, and in this guide, I’ll give you some simple steps to make your first backpacking trip easy.
I’ve been hiking with my Altra Lone Peak 6 trail runners for over 200 miles now, and they’ve been great. In this video I’ll show what makes them great and how they compare to the Altra Lone Peak 5.
Worthy of any hiking bucket list, the Lost Coast Trail offers a challenging adventure along California’s longest stretch of undeveloped coastline. You’ll hike along the boundary where the King Range Wilderness and the Pacific Ocean collide, showcasing nature’s beautiful and powerful forces. This guide will cover everything you need to know to make the Lost Coast Trail a reality, from planning to preparing and then doing the hike. There are several sections of Lost Coast Trail; in this guide, I’ll cover the most popular stretch from Mattole Beach to Shelter Cove’s Black Sands Beach.
Shelter Cove, CA - 25.5 miles, Hard
The Solstice Canyon hike in Malibu is one of the most beautiful (and popular) hikes you can find. Within the short distance of 3 miles, you get a bit of everything, ocean views from coastal hillsides, a shaded canyon along only one of two perennial water sources in the Santa Monica Mountains, a waterfall, and a solid dose of architecture and local history. In this guide, I’ll take you on the popular loop hike to enjoy all the sights along Solstice Canyon.
Malibu, CA - 3.2 miles, Moderate
In this short and simple video I’ll explain why GPS distances are always different, and what you can do to improve the accuracy of your GPS distance reading.
Although not one of the high peaks of Cleveland National Forest, Sitton Peak is one of the more popular ones to bag. The hike to Sitton Peak is challenging but not too harsh, and at the top, you are treated to panoramic views from Catalina to the SoCal high peaks. You’ll also get to explore the San Mateo Wilderness, a protected area of unique and lush chaparral, oak woodlands, and coastal sage.
Trabuco Canyon, CA - 9.6 miles, Moderate
The hike to Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains at 3,111 feet, is a classic. If you simply want to get to the summit, slog up the steep and short trail to the peak. But I highly recommend taking this popular scenic loop via the Mishe Mokwa Trail instead. You’ll get to fully enjoy the beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains, including the iconic Balanced Rock, Echo Cliffs, Split Rock, and Tri-Peaks. Hiking up the Mishe Mokwa Trail also gives your legs a break; the longer loop is not as steep as the direct route.
Malibu, CA - 7.2 miles, Moderate
Is REI Membership worth It? It will save you 10%+ on your purchases and also has a lot of other benefits that not everyone knows about. Here’s how an REI Membership can work for you…
For hikers and outdoors enthusiasts, the Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix (Gen 2) offer a ton of functionality and tools, all packed into a small piece of metal on your wrist. But does the benefit of having one of these watches justify the steep cost? In this review and guide, I’ll take a look at the Fenix 7 and Epix from an outdoors and hikers’ perspective and make some recommendations on whether this watch is something you should invest in. I won’t cover the 2 billion non-outdoor things that this watch can do because this guide would take 100 days to read. My recommendations are based on my actual usage over hundreds of miles of hiking.
The Escondido Falls hike is an easy way to see one of the most unique and spectacular waterfalls in Southern California. Unlike most falls, Escondido Falls is covered in moss, giving the waterfall a “bearded” look. Overall the trail is easy to follow and is a great beginner and family-friendly hike.
Malbiu, CA - 3.7 miles, Easy
Pioneertown Mountains Preserve sits strategically between the high mountains and desert. It’s a unique and varied landscape, and the Indian Loop Trail takes you on a tour of everything it has to offer. You’ll climb to the 5,541-foot Chaparrosa Peak, wind through the foothills with views to the high peaks of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and then descend through Pipes Canyon, along a critical watershed bringing life to the desert.
Pioneertown, CA - 8 miles, Moderate
There’s a lot to see in Malibu Creek State Park, and in this guide, I’ll take you on a “best of” tour of the highlights in the park. First, we’ll visit the famous Rock Pool, then escape the crowds at the scenic Century Lake dam, finally finishing with a canyon-side trail to the famous MASH television show set. It’s an easy hike that’s full of adventure and history.
Calabasas, CA - 5 miles, Easy
Don’t let the short distance fool you; the hike up to Mugu Peak is challenging, climbing 1200 feet in about a mile. But with great effort comes a great reward, and the views from the summit of Mugu Peak are spectacular, from the high peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains to the Channel Islands. And while you’re suffering on the climb, let your mind wander by thinking about the trail you are on, used by the native Chumash peoples for over 7,000 years. The Mugu Peak Trail is a fun adventure that’s worth the effort.
Malibu, CA - 3 miles, Moderate
It’s easy to see why the Stonewall Peak Trail is the most popular hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. It’s a climb, but not too tough. And at the top, there’s a unique bald granite summit that offers panoramic views of high peaks, lakes, and desert. The hike is a relatively short out-and-back, but if you want to make it a nice loop with views of Lake Cuyamaca, I have directions for that too.
Julian, CA - 4.2 miles, Moderate
Tucked away in a hidden canyon within Cleveland National Forest, the hike to Three Sisters Falls is remote, spectacular, and fun. Boulder Creek cascades down three smooth granite levels, the “three sisters,” and leaves fresh pools where you can swim, dip your feet in, or just enjoy the vibe. I’ve also included an optional hike extension to Eagle Peak, a stunning summit that dominates the landscape around the area, including the San Diego River valley.
Santa Ysabel, CA - 4.4 miles, Moderate