Top 10 of 2020

In a year that was a rollercoaster of challenges, one thing felt a little more stabilizing: the great outdoors! We found respite and were able to re-energize in local parks and trails. Closing out 2020, we're sharing the top 10 best outdoor adventures of the year in Southern California. Onward to 2021!

Week 12.30.2020
Regions Southern CA

1) Ultimate Griffith

Man hiking a trail at Griffith Park in Los Angeles

Explore LA county’s largest park on a 5.25-mile instant classic lollipop loop with landmark locales and hidden havens. The Fern Dell to Mount Hollywood hike in Griffith Park features the famous observatory, hidden gardens, and an awesome view of the Hollywood Sign.

2) Park Points!

Woman hiking in front of Point Fermin Lighthouse in Los Angeles

Basically, there’s more than a few fascinating features packed into this 2.5-mile Park to Park to Park walk in San Pedro. It’s got big trees, big ocean views, and one big SoCal surprise. It’s also got figs, the world’s fastest animal flying overhead, and a fresh fish market famous for its giant shrimp. Oh, and beer.

3) High Five!

Woman on a large rock overlooking one of the lakes at Cottonwood Lakes in John Muir Wilderness

Do a day hike or get a permit to spend the night at one of the Cottonwood Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness. These five sublime lakes are accessible via an overnight backpacking adventure with a wilderness permit. If you’ve got limited time, you can do a 10-mile (round-trip) day hike to the first of these lakes, an absolute gem backed by epic Sierra scenery, including Mount Langley, the ninth-highest peak in California.

4) Suspension Surprise

Woman on the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge in San Diego

Spruce up an urban hike in San Diego: connect two gardens by way of two spectacular bridges on a 3.75-mile (round-trip) stroll through downtown. This hike includes the awesome Spruce Street Suspension Bridge built in 1912.

5) Joshua Tree

Woman standing at Joshua Tree National Park overlooking Palm Springs

Set in the high desert of southeast California, Joshua Tree National Park is stunning in winter. Crisp scenery and brilliant light casts across a landscape both whimsical and mystical. From a peak hike to classic routes, explore this dreamy desertscape in two days.

6) Redwoods in SoCal

Two hikers among redwoods in Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Orange County

Find redwoods in SoCal on a 2-mile loop hike in Brea’s Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The Carbon Canyon Regional Park Coastal Redwood Grove is by far the largest of its kind in Southern California, comprising 241 Sequoia sempervirens specimens. The tallest is nearly 100 feet! They were planted here in the 1970s when seedlings were donated during a local bank promotion!

7) Wheelhouse: The Pacific Electric Trail

Woman bike riding The Pacific Electric Trail in Southern California

The Pacific Electric Trail, once part of its namesake railroad, is a 20-mile, car-free bike path threading six cities. Bike the entire route in one big day or pedal a segment of it so you have more time to explore some sites and grab some bites. Here are three distinct sections of the Pacific Electric Trail. Ride on!

8) Gone Rogue!

Kayaker in the rapids on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon

If one thing can make you feel like a kid at summer camp, it’s spending a day on the river, rafting, floating, cannonballing off cliffs—eureka! One of the best rivers in the West to float is the Rogue River, aka the heartbeat of the region.

9) Peak On Hiking!

Woman standing at the lookout tower of Tahquitz Peak in the San Jacinto Wilderness in Southern California

It’s a steady climb (2,375 feet elevation gain) and a solid 8.1 miles (round-trip) … and it’s worth every step. Hike to the Tahquitz Peak Lookout via the Devil’s Slide Trail in the San Jacinto Wilderness for amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the Salton Sea. At 8,846 feet, Tahquitz has the highest lookout in the San Bernardino National Forest.

10) Sneak a Peak

Two hikers on the ridge hiking to San Gabriel Peak in Southern California

Don’t have all day, but still wanna summit a summit? Then summit the San Gabriels’ namesake. It’s a 3.5-mile out-and-back trek that climbs over 1,000 feet to 6,146-foot San Gabriel Peak.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In the episode “Top Adventures from The Year of the Dumpster Fire” Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss some favorite adventures and how the Top 10 list was made from this rollercoaster of a year.

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Trebek Open Space

    While most hikers head over to adjacent Runyon Canyon, instead do the 2-mile hike at Trebek Open Space and pay your respects to the legendary Jeopardy host and philanthropist, Alex Trebek.

  2. Image that represents the story

    Rock the Hope at Lake Elsinore

    Hike the 4-mile Levee Trail on the shores of Southern California's largest natural freshwater lake, Lake Elsinore, and get a splash of positive energy thanks to the Rock Snake started earlier this year.

  3. Image that represents the story

    Weekend Sherpa Podcast: Take it Outside

    Amid a new year that's already had challenges, Brad and Holly discuss the realities of what's happening in the country. And (!) some of the best new hiking trails locally in the Bay Area and SoCal.

  4. Image that represents the story

    A Very Reno Winter

    You’ve never had a winter vacation like Reno Tahoe! The Biggest Little City in the World is also one of the best winter basecamps. The Truckee River flows right through its lively Riverwalk District.


Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tamtastical Hike

    This 6.8-mile loop through the woods and ridges that make up the northern foothills of Tam offer the best of both worlds: solitude and grandeur. Enjoy quiet trails, tranquil forest, and big views.

  2. Image that represents the story

    Hawk-Eyed Sunset

    It's one of the best sunset spots in the Bay Area. And Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands is quieter than usual this year because of few tourists. Enjoy a sweeping panorama 923 feet above the Pacific.

  3. Image that represents the story

    Thank You to Our 2020 Team

    Thank you to our wonderful 2020 team for bringing the great outdoors home in a most challenging year. Meet our contributors and get ideas from their personal favorite CA adventures this year.

  4. Image that represents the story

    2021 Hiking Calendar!

    Ready to kick off 2021? (Like we have to ask.) Literally kick it off, with a hike! Download the 2021 POST Hiking Calendar (complimentary)—with recommended trails for every month of the year.