California Hikes


  • Fern Lake  Wow, this was a great hike.  We read about it in the 2015 fall edition of Sunrise Magazine about traveling I-395. We are really glad we took their advice and did this hike.  It was a pretty steep ascent over switchbacks but the view at the top was awesome.  I would highly recommend this hike if you are in the June Lake area in California.
  • Lone Pine Lake  The trail to this hike is the same trail you would use to hike to Mt. Whitney.  The area from Whitney Portal to the lake is dog friendly.  The hike is an easy one with switchbacks the whole way.  The footing is excellent. The hike has very little shade so keep that in mind if you or your dog gets overheated easily.  There are some great bristle cone pines that can be seen along the hike and at the lake.  We have an even greater appreciation for these trees after spending a day hiking in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
  • Painted Canyon Ladder Loop Trail  This hike is 40 minutes from our campground in Thousand Palms.  It’s a great hike that is around 5-miles long.  I am really glad we turned left just a quarter mile from the start and took the ladder trail.  Don’t miss the eagle engraved in the rock that “guards” the entrance to the slot canyon.  There are about 8-12 ladders on the full loop.  Be careful some of them have some broken rungs.  The narrow slot canyon area was really cool.  This was one of our best hikes yet. This is a dog friendly area but Gizmo was not with us because we had not planned on hiking and did this at the spur of the moment.
  • Ryan Mountain- Joshua Tree National Park  This is a great little hike in Joshua Tree. It’s short but brings you up quick.  It offers great views of the park.
  • Grotto Overlook- Mecca Hills  We found information on this hike in the book 140 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs  The book is good but the author’s directions can be a bit difficult to follow.  We believe we made it almost to the Grotto Overlook but we turned back because it was a hot day and the sun was beating down pretty hard on both us and Gizmo.  We hope to try this again before we leave the area.  There is a fair amount of elevation gain (over 700 feet) and the views towards the surrounding mountains and the Salton Sea are superb.  Brush up on your knowledge of local trees if you are using this book.  Directions are given to turn at certain trees (Palo Verde, Ironwood…) trees us from New England are not familiar with.
  • Black Mountain  This is a great hike off of the Banning-Idyllwild Highway.  You will see a ranger station on the right, in about one mile further on the left will be the parking lot for Black Mountain.  We have hiked this twice.  The starting elevation is over 5000 feet so in winter there will most likely be snow on the trail.  The hike gains over 2650 feet in 3.9 miles.  This is a great hike if you are yearning to hike in pines instead of palms.  It reminded us of being back in New England.  The second time we hiked it there was several inches of snow and we wore our microspikes.  This was one of the highlights of our time here.  Hiking in snow in the morning and returning to Palm Desert and enjoying a warm afternoon in shorts.
  • Bump and Grind Loop Trail– We could do this hike every day, it’s better than running on a treadmill.  You get scenery and elevation.  The link attached is to do this as a loop hike.  We usually go straight up (you will see a trail that leads to the left- if you want to make it a loop hike go left) and once we reach the high point we turn around and come back the way we started.  We do this to increase our mileage to 3.9 and to avoid the steepness of the trail to the left.  This hike is located right behind Target and is a very popular hike with the locals.  Click here for a link to the top of the Bump and Grind.
  • Painted Canyon-Rope Trail  We finally made it to the ropes.  The trail to this hike is the first slot canyon on the left as you start up the wash.  It is about 0.2 miles before the left to the ladder loop trail.  There are 3 ropes before you hit the top of the canyon.  We made it to the top of the first rope.  We had Gizmo with us and it was a struggle to get up the 2nd rope as you are pulling yourself up through a pretty narrow space.  This is definitely a trip we will try again with more people and without the dog.  Gizmo did great getting up the area for the first rope.  He has no fear of being pulled up by his harness.  This is just a fun area if you are not looking to hike too far but want to try your hand on climbing up and down through the canyon with ropes that are already set in place.
  • Devil’s Slide Trail– This is a great trail starting from Humber State Park in Idyllwild.  We didn’t quite make it to the PCT because of a late start.  The map states it’s 2.5 miles to the PCT but we think it is at least 3 miles.  There was snow on the ground for most of our hike and our Kahtoola microspikes came in very handy.  We will be doing this hike again once all the snow melts.  The scenery is reminiscent of the Sierras
  • Teutonia Peak
  • Rings Loop Trail
  • Big Utah Canyon-You can read our blog about this hike.  This is a dog friendly hike near the mecca hills bringing you through a large colorful canyon.  It is an out and back hike that is less than 4 miles and 570 feet of elevation gain.  You climb out of the canyon at the very end for views in every direction.  Link to route