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Favorite Hiking Trails in the West

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

Day hikers on California’s rocky Big Sur coast.

 

Ryan Tuttle / Stocksy

Editor's note: Some of the sites mentioned in this section may be closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic or recent wildfires. Before you go, please confirm the status and hours of any place you plan to visit.

"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

"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

"Gray Whale Cove Trail in Pacifica, 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

"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

"I like to hike Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, California. The towering trees— 150-year-old offspring of the original oldgrowth 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

Editor's Pick: Off the beaten path on California's Big Sur coastline, there's a pullout about a mile south of Soberanes Canyon Trailhead—near Granite Canyon Bridge—that offers rugged exploring and breathtaking vistas.