Hi, I’m Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional hiking guide. I created this site to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different in that it gives very detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I share the hiking tricks and tips that I’ve learned over the years to fast-track you into a hiking pro. And I tell you what hiking gear works and what gear doesn’t so you don’t waste your money. I depend on your support to keep this site ad and promotion free. See ya out on the trails…
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Don’t waste your money on hiking gear that’s no good; I’ve already done that for you! Here’s my trail-tested best hiking gear list, last updated . I only recommend hiking gear that I’ve used over hundreds of miles. I don’t do any paid or sponsored reviews, and I don’t waste your time with gear that doesn’t make the cut. This is only the good stuff.
The Garmin inReach Mini packs some powerful features into s small and reasonably priced package. You can send and receive your GPS location to anyone with a text or email (or another inReach Mini) in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. You can also receive messages, allowing you to communicate with family, friends, and emergency services. Additional features on the inReach Mini allow you to get weather reports, track your trip and share with friends, and perform navigation. There are some limitations, and I’ll cover that later, but all-in-all, the inReach Mini is a solid device that I highly recommend.
The GPSMAP 66i is Garmin’s top-of-the-line handheld GPS unit with InReach satellite communications built-in. It’s a solid device built for outdoor use and navigation. I’ve logged months of testing and use for this Garmin GPSMAP 66i review, and while it’s a solid unit, it’s also probably not for everyone. In this review I’ll give you my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t, I’ll compare it to devices like the InReach Explorer, I’ll give you my recommendations for the 66i, and I’ll show you how to use the device.
This 11 mile Mt Baldy hike brings you to the highest point in LA at 10,064 feet. With almost 4000 feet of climbing, it’s a tough yet popular hike, and well worth the effort. You can see from the Pacific to the Mojave on a clear day. There are a few ways to hike Mt Baldy, and this guide takes you on the most popular route.
Mt Baldy, CA - 11 miles, Hard
The Mt Whitney hike is on every hiker’s bucket list. At 14,505 feet, it’s the highest point in the lower 48 and is one of those rare high peaks that you can hike to without any mountaineering skills. There is some prep work you need to do, like getting your Mt Whitney permit and dealing with the altitude. This hiking guide has everything you need to know to successfully climb Mt Whitney. Keep reading for all the info.
Whitney Portal, CA - 22 miles, Very Hard
The hike up to Half Dome, towering over the Yosemite Valley at 8846 feet, is one of the great bucket list hikes. You’ll pass iconic waterfalls, hike through majestic sequoias, and then pull yourself up steel cables to stand at the summit. There’s a lot to know before you start; this isn’t just a hike where you show up at the trailhead and go. There’s a decent amount of anxiety about the cables section of the hike for a lot of folks. In this guide, I will cover everything you need to know in a simple and step-by-step way. I’ll help you prepare, conquer your fears, bag the summit, and have a great time in the process.
Yosemite Village, CA - 17 miles, Very Hard
The rim-to-rim hike in the Grand Canyon is iconic, spectacular, and challenging. Over my years of hiking the rim-to-rim, I’ve seen people of all shapes and sizes hike across the Grand Canyon, and in this guide, I’m going to give you all the information you need to know so that you can hike it too. Your journey will start months before stepping foot on the trail, as planning is critical for this popular bucket list hike. And then, armed with the correct information and preparation, you’ll know what to expect as you leave 99.9% of the other Grand Canyon visitors behind and hit the trail to cross one of the seven wonders of the world. And in case you’re wondering, although you’ll be exhausted at the end, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel at the end is unparalleled.
Grand Canyon Village, AZ - 21 miles, Very Hard
The 41.5 mile Timberline Trail, which circles Oregon’s highest point, Mt Hood, dropping in and out of glacier-carved canyons, is a classic that should be on everyone’s bucket list. There’s a lot to love about the Timberline Trail: a well-worn path above and below the timberline (the altitude where trees stop growing), epic views of Mt Hood and the other peaks of the Cascades, glaciers, waterfalls, volcanic rock, alpine meadows, wildflowers, and rich history (it’s also a National Historic Trail). Numerous tent sites along the trail and an easy permit system make tackling the Timberline in 2-4 days straightforward. In this guide I’ll explain everything you need to know to plan your trip, and then do the hike.
Government Camp, OR - 41.5 miles, Hard
The Trans Catalina Trail, a mini, 38.5-mile thru-hike across the rugged island of Catalina, is a very doable adventure for almost every hiker and backpacker. Most people take between two and five days to complete the trail, which winds its way around Catalina. Along the way, you’ll experience expansive ocean views, the unique Channel Islands ecology, challenging terrain, and spectacular beachside campgrounds. In this complete Trans Catalina Trail (TCT) guide, I’ll show you everything you need to know to hike the trail and plan it out so that it’s a perfect fit for your hiking abilities.
Avalon, CA - 38.5 miles, Hard
The hike to Eaton Canyon Falls is one of those LA classics you have to do at least once. Eaton Canyon and the falls are spectacular, one of the true gems of the San Gabriels. Even John Muir wrote about Eaton Canyon Falls’s beauty. But its easily accessible location means that you’ll find crowds here, and many people on the trail are not familiar with hiking etiquette. The best time to hike Eaton Canyon Falls is early on a weekday when the canyon is still peaceful, and the masses haven’t yet arrived.
Pasadena, CA - 4 miles, Easy
A local’s favorite, the Tim’s Ladder Trail offers a rugged adventure into the hills of the northern Coachella Valley. Along the way, you’ll encounter a monument built by a local artisan. Then, you’ll enter the Joshua Tree National Park backcountry and finish with a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the Little San Bernardino Mountains. And 2000 feet of climbing in under 3 miles means that you’ll earn the views.
Desert Hot Springs, 92241 - 6 miles, Moderate
There’s a new technology on the horizon and it will change how we communicate and navigate in the backcountry. In this video I’ll show you what it is, how it works, and what the potential is.
Tucked away in a remote corner of Cleveland National Forest, the waterfalls of Upper Hot Spring Canyon are truly wild and beautiful. Luckily it’s a relatively easy hike to the first 15-foot waterfall, then a bit harder to the second, taller 25-foot waterfall, which I cover in this guide. After that point, this hiking guide ends because Lower Hot Spring Canyon lacks a trail and is known as one of the most challenging canyoneering routes in SoCal. But this more leisurely hike in the upper canyon will give you a taste of the beauty without having to mount a major expedition.
Lake Elsinore, CA - 2.8 miles, Moderate
If you want peace of mind in the backcountry in an emergency, the ACR / Ocean rescueME PLB1 is what you need. It’s the smallest and most compact personal locator beacon (PLB) that you can get. If you get into trouble in an area where you can’t get a cellphone signal to dial 911, hit the red button on the PLB1, and help is on the way. The rescueME PLB1 doesn’t offer two-way satellite communications like a Garmin inReach or ZOLEO, but it doesn’t have any subscription costs. You pay for the unit, and that’s it. I’ll show you how it works, compare it to a satellite communicator, and give you my recommendations.
The Big Dalton Canyon Trail is just about the perfect family-friendly hike. It’s short, shaded, has lots of twists and turns, is picturesque, and follows a shallow stream that kids can safely enjoy. If you want a little bit more of a workout, take the Coulter Pine Trail back, offering epic views of Big Dalton Dam, Mt Baldy, and Big Iron Mountain. It’s a gem of a hike tucked into suburban LA.
Glendora, CA - 2.2 miles, Easy
The hike to Hoyt Mountain, often overshadowed by its more popular neighbors, is a great adventure packed into 4 miles. To start, you’ll scramble up a challenging use trail to the summit, which offers panoramic views into Angeles National Forest and along the San Gabriel Fault. The hike continues by looping down and circling the mountain along an old trail blasted out of the cliffside about 100 years ago. Along the way, you’ll even pass LA’s outdoor school for kids, which has been operating continuously since 1925.
Tujunga, CA - 3.9 miles, Moderate
I get a fair amount of emails and comments asking me what the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator (like inReach and ZOLEO) is. In this short video I’ll explain the difference in plain English, and address the grey area where the two crossover.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Hike to Mt San Jacinto is a great way to bag Southern California’s second-highest peak without putting in a considerable effort. It’s still a challenging 11-mile hike, but it’s nothing like climbing Mt San Jacinto from Palm Springs or Idyllwild; taking the Palm Springs tram cuts about 6,000 feet of climbing off the hike. The summit of Mt San Jacinto is one of my favorites because it straddles the line between Coastal California and the Sonoran Desert, allowing you to see the transition between the two ecosystems, and on a clear day, from Catalina Island to Mt Charleston, just outside of Las Vegas. It’s a fun and insanely beautiful hike.
Palm Springs, CA - 11 miles, Hard
San Mateo Peak, a beautiful and fun hike with a fantastic summit and sweeping views, is not officially there. The trail is not on the Forest Service maps, and you won’t find “San Mateo Peak” anywhere on an official topographic map. But the trail and peak are there all right, and in this guide, I’ll show you how to hike to the top and enjoy this fun peak in Cleveland National Forest.
Lake Elsinore, CA - 4.6 miles, Moderate
In this video I’ll clear up any confusion about how long inReach messages take to send and receive so that you can set your expectations accordingly.
After spending days hiking in a cold and rainy PNW, I share my cold and wet gear setup for hiking. I had honed this earlier and my recent trip confirmed that it works great.
This hike, which takes in Throop Peak, Mount Burnham, and Mount Baden-Powell from Dawson Saddle, has dramatic high-mountain scenery and interesting history. This ridge of peaks was initially referred to as “North Baldy Mountain,” with Throop Peak being the “West Twin” and Baden-Powell being the “East Twin.” Whatever you want to call it now, this is a great hike, with three peaks to bag, expansive views, and well-groomed trails, including the PCT.
Paradise Springs, California - 9 miles, Moderate
You can’t go wrong with a hike on the Eagle Creek Trail, considered the signature trail of the Columbia River Gorge. Right from the start, the Eagle Creek Trail offers dramatic views of waterfalls, a raging mountain stream, dense PNW forest, and towering basalt cliffs. Most hikers enjoy the short 4.2-mile roundtrip hike to Punchbowl Falls, but I highly recommend going farther if you have the fitness. You can even make it an overnight backpacking trip, ideally hiking to the end of the Eagle Creek Trail at Wahtum Lake, high in the mountains. Whatever option you choose, you can’t go wrong here.
Cascade Locks, OR - 4.2 miles, Moderate
A hike through the Big Bear Wild Burro Territory, Located in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains, offers an excellent chance to spot these beautiful animals in the wild, as well as some pristine mountain scenery. The territory is about 50 square miles, and in this guide, I’ll take you on a route through some of the hot spots where the wild burros can be found. We’ll add in a trip to Onyx Peak as well, so you can bag a summit along the way. I’ll also share a map with alternative locations where the wild burro can often be found.
Big Bear, CA - 12.5 miles, Hard
Hiking the Tin Mine Canyon Trail takes you into another world. You’ll park your car in suburban SoCal, but end up in a lush, shaded gully alongside a mountain stream. On the way you get to check out the old tin mine shafts, over 100 years old and once part of the search for the purest tin in the world. The Tin Mine Canyon Trail is relatively short, easy, shaded, and great for the family.
Corona, CA - 5 miles, Easy
Grays Peak Trail, one of the most popular hikes in the Big Bear Area, is not too tough, but plenty nice. You’ll hike through an old-growth forest, be treated to views of the surrounding peaks, and then reach the forested knob of Grays Peak, which has lengthwise views of Big Bear Lake, as well as the San Bernardino high line of peaks. It’s such a nice area that two bald eagles decided to raise a family here! More on that in the guide.
Fawnskin, CA - 7.2 miles, Moderate
I spent a lot of time with the Hikelite 18 and it’s a winner – the Hikelite has become my go to short day hike pack, especially for the summer. It has everything that you need, and nothing that you don’t, and is designed for hot environments.
Tucked away in a hidden canyon in Cleveland National Forest, the hike to Holy Jim Falls is fun, easy, and great for families. The area recovering from the 2018 Holy Fire is still very lush and offers forest and tree cover not often found in Southern California. You’ll hike up a gentle gradient along Holy Jim Creek and then turn off onto the Holy Jim Falls spur trail, which narrows as it approaches the falls.
Corona, CA - 3.4 miles, Easy
The Red Mountain hike, although “normal” on paper, really packs a punch. Red Mountain, a volcanic cone rising over 2000 feet above the surrounding Mojave Desert, has steep slopes, harsh terrain, and a challenging trail. And with great effort comes great payoff: the summit offers sweeping views and an interesting history.
Randsburg, CA - 5.5 miles, Hard
Offering dramatic views into some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world, the beauty of the Telescope Peak hike will leave you breathless. You’ll hike up a well-maintained trail to Death Valley’s highest point, Telescope Peak, towering eleven-thousand feet over the lowest point in the USA, Badwater Basin. The trail passes through alpine meadows, amongst ancient bristlecone pines, along rocky ridges, and ends at an epic panoramic peak. Add Telescope Peak to your bucket list if you haven’t done it already.
Death Valley, CA - 12.5 miles, Hard
The hike to Los Pinos Peak offers a remote and rugged experience through the heart of Cleveland National Forest. Although not technically prominent, Los Pinos Peak is “practically” prominent, and on the hike, given a clear day, you can see from Catalina to San Gorgonio. There are several ways to hike to Los Pinos Peak, and in this guide, I’ll show you the most popular (and shortest) route from the area by Falcon Group Campground.
Lake Elsinore, CA - 5.4 miles, Moderate
I tried out the Mystery Ranch Scree 32 backpack after having several people recommend it. Overall, it’s a solid and durable pack, but there are some deal-breakers that don’t make it the right pack for me. In this video I’ll show you the highs and lows of the Mystery Ranch Scree 32 and make some recommendations about who it would be a good fit for.
In this short video I’ll show you around the CalTopo mapping software. We’ll create a hike, send it to our phone, navigate with the CalTopo mobile app, and then review our hike on the computer afterward.
Standing prominently in the western San Gabriels, Josephine Peak offers a cool summit with sweeping views. There are a few ways to hike to the summit, and this guide covers my favorite route, which takes the (single track) Colby Canyon Trail (instead of the fire road). This is a great “off-the-beaten-path” hike where you never see crowds, making for a peaceful and pleasurable experience.
Tujunga, CA - 8.4 miles, Moderate
The Thunder Spring Trail Loop is one of the quieter hikes in Palomar Mountain State Park; it’s a great hike to get away from it all. The scenery is lush, with lots of pines, cedars, and in the spring, wildflowers. You have a climb that will get your heart rate up, but is not too tough. And along the way, you visit a historic homesteader’s cabin site. Overall it’s a nice trail and a good time.
Palomar Mountain,, CA - 4.2 miles, Moderate
It’s fairly common to spot errors on Google Maps, especially when you are heading to trailheads and outdoors-related areas. In this short video I’ll show you how to update the errors on Google Maps so that other people will get the correct address information.
This short loop hike to the Boucher Fire Lookout Tower offers a lot to see in a short distance. The climb to the tower is gentle, and at the top, on a clear day, you can see from Mexico, to the Coronado Islands, to Mt San Jacinto. I’d venture to say the best views from Palomar Mountain State Park are from Boucher Hill. Then rom the tower, we’ll hike in a loop and visit the remains of a historic homesteader’s cabin.
Palomar Mountain, CA - 3.5 miles, Easy
In this short video I’ll show you how you can very easily advocate for legislation that supports hiking and the outdoors using the REI Cooperative Action Network. Letting you representatives know that you want them to support outdoor legislation is as easy as a few mouse clicks.
The hike through Lower Doane Valley and French Valley at Palomar Mountain State Park is a gem; every twist and turn offers something natural and beautiful. You’ll follow the lush Doane Creek, hike through groves of giant trees, across mountain meadows, visit a historic weir, and find a hidden pool of French Creek. There are ups and downs, but no big mountain climbs on this short 4 mile hike.
Palomar Mountain,, CA - 4.2 miles, Easy