Favorite Hiking Trails in the West

Ocean views, cool forests, and wildlife can be found on these treks in the West.

Valencia peak rising from the coastline in Montana de Oro State Park, California.
Valencia peak rising from the coastline in Montaña de Oro State Park, California.

"Valencia Peak in Montaña de Oro State Park in California's San Luis Obispo County offers an exhilarating rush without a huge time or energy commitment. Sea breezes cool you on the trail up to the peak, where you'll find views of the ocean and Morro Bay. There's also a nice cove beach in the park for relaxing after the hike." —Richard Bamberger

"Sweeping views above the Pacific Ocean in all directions can be seen on the roughly five-mile round-trip hike on the Bodega Head Trail, just northwest of Bodega Bay in California. Seabirds and sea lions can be spotted year-round, and migrating gray whales can be seen from December through April, sometimes coming close to the point." —Vicki Smith

"Gray Whale Cove Trail in Montara, California, can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. There's a simple one-mile trail along the bluff with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean. For a harder hike, turn inland and try Montara Mountain Trail, a vigorous climb." —Raj Haldankar

"The Schultz Creek Trail just outside Flagstaff, Arizona, is a beautiful hike on a tree-lined, well-maintained path. And when the weather is scorching in Phoenix, the two-hour drive north typically nets much cooler temperatures." —Mary Farina

Burney Falls in McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, California.
Burney Falls in McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, California.

"California's McArthur–Burney Falls State Park has a wonderful one-mile loop hike that crosses Burney Creek on wooden footbridges. The forest, the switchbacks, the ever-changing views of the falls, the creek, the entire setting, plus the sounds and smells, make this a healing experience in every way." —Susan Garcia

"I like to hike Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, California. The towering trees—150-year-old offspring of the original old-growth forest—reward me with shady trails, abundant bird life, and lessons in overcoming adversity and the value of community." —Sharol Nelson-Embry


"I love to take my family to Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley, California. There's a beautiful hike through cedars, pines, and wildflowers, plus there are mining artifacts to discover. You can also tour the old mine grounds, which include a rose garden and koi ponds." —Jennifer Brown

"My favorite hike is the Miller Canyon Trail in the Huachuca Mountains of southern Arizona. The lower stretch of trail follows a former mining road and Miller Creek, flanked by sycamores, bigtooth maples, and Douglas fir trees. The upper stretch is more strenuous and features Gambel oaks and views of the San Pedro Valley." —Robert Weissler

This article was first published in September 2020 and last updated in March 2023.