It’s that time again…when you’ve finally burned off all of those St. Patrick’s Day calories and are face with another holiday of heavy eating and drinking. But fear not, any aloric sins are committed this Cinco de Mayo can be atoned for in the gym, or better yet, in nature. Here, in order of difficulty, are ten great hiking trails in southern California that provide nice views and a great workout. All of them have free access, and except for #3 which requires an easy-to-get fre permit, no special paperwork is required: just drive, park and hike.
10) San Onofre Back Country. Best known for its beach, geology and power plant, San Onofre features some lightly traveled trails, on which it is possible to make several different routes, such as the loop described here.
9) Wildwood Canyon State Park. This new Yucaipa park is a short distance from the Inland Empire and, at more than 3,000 feet above sea level, provides a nice escape from the heat. Tons of trails lace the park, making many different possible routes.
8) Cherry Canyon. Up, down, up down…is this a hiking trail or a roller coaster? You decide.
7) Hellman Park. It’s short, but the incline that’s steep enough to earn the nickname “Cardiac Hill” isn’t sweet. The views, however, which include the Orange County coastal plain and the San Gabriels, are.
6) Mt. Bell. Not as heavily visited as some of Griffith Park’s other peaks, the hike to Mt. Bell is a good workout with some great views of the Verdugo Mountains and the front country of the San Gabriels. It can easily be combined with other summits in the park, if you’ve gone heavy on the chips and salsa.
5) Oakbrook Vista. Thousand Oaks hikers won’t want to miss this scenic and challenging route, with great views of the Santa Monica Mountains and Conejo Valley. If you’re up for a challenge, try continuing to Simi Peak via the Secret Trail.
4) Temescal Peak. This hike to one of the easternmost summits in the Santa Monica Mountains provides some great views of the ocean, Topanga Canyon, and on clear days, the San Gabriel Mountains and downtown L.A. The nearly seven mile round trip is sure to burn off a Dos Equis or two.
3) Potato Mountain. Operated by nearby Pomona College’s biology department, this hike starts with a pleasant climb through a shaded canyon and continues onward to the summit, with nice views of the San Gabriel Valley and the eastern peaks of the Angeles National Forest.
2) Double Peak. Easily accessible to San Diego and not far from Orange County, this popular hike near Escondido provides nice views of the area, while challenging hikers with some steep stretches.
1) Summit 2760. It might not have an inspiring name, but this peak in the foothills of the San Gabriels, which can be reached from Big Dalton Canyon, has some great views of mountain and city alike. If you still have gas in the tank after the challenging climb, you can continue onto Summit 3397, which gets its name for the same reason as Summit 2760.
Even if you’ve shown culinary discipline during this or other holidays, these hikes are sure to be worthwhile trips. With a good trail, you’ll never regret getting out into nature – no matter what day of the year it is.