California is known to be one of the best states to hike in the U.S. Home to more national parks than any other state, California offers unique and diverse landscapes, terrains and climates, making it a prime hiking destination. Hiking is an activity that combines exercise with adventure, and to us all at WOLFpak, that sounds like the perfect combination.
Today we’re going to cover the benefits of hiking, share our roundup of the 6 best hikes you can do in California and the one essential piece of hiking gear you need. So if you’re looking for the best hiking trails in California, you came to the right place. Let’s get started.
What are the benefits of hiking?
Hiking is a type of physical activity that involves being outside in nature. Unlike some other types of physical activity like weight lifting that require being in the gym, hiking requires being outside in a natural environment. The benefits of hiking then, can be linked to these two features of the activity.
Improves cardiovascular fitness
Hiking is a form of cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio. This type of exercise increases the heart and breathing rate while recruiting large muscles for movement. Cardiovascular fitness can be defined by your body’s ability to efficiently transport oxygenated blood around the body, and is a key marker of health.
Cardio has been shown in research to lower blood pressure, regulate blood glucose levels and improve cholesterol levels.
Great for weight loss
Hiking is a great calorie burner, making it an ideal way to lose weight. An hour-long hike will burn around 550 calories! Plus, the steeper the incline, the more calories burnt. Incorporating hikes into your exercise regime can help you lose weight more efficiently.
Hiking helps to build muscle and bone mass, because it provides resistance in the form of an incline. If you want to improve cardiovascular fitness while building and retaining muscle, hiking is one of the best options.
A study published in 2019 monitored the body composition changes in a group of older adults who were assigned to a seven-day hiking regimen. The researchers found that after the trial, the participants significantly increased their muscle mass.
Mental health benefits
Research consistently shows that spending time in nature is beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing. For example, a 2018 study found that when participants were asked to walk for 10 minutes a day, they reported significant improvements to their mood and mental state.
Being in nature, combined with exercising, is also a powerful stress reliever. Another study discovered that hiking lowers cortisol levels - the stress hormone.
The 6 best hikes in California
- Mount Baldy Hike, San Bernardino County
Based in southern California, Mt Baldy is arguably the most popular hiking destination in the state. Mt Baldy has 46 hiking trails, but two main ones, according to Hiking Guy: the Baldy Bowl/Ski Hut Trail and the Devil’s Backbone Trail.
Mt Baldy offers terrain for more advanced hikers, and most hikes are longer than average. For example, the Devil’s Backbone Trail is 14 miles and is considered a full-day hike, lasting up to 10 hours.
The views can be breathtaking, running up to more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Plus, because of the southern California weather, it’s an ideal option year-round.
- Yosemite Falls Trail, Yosemite Mariposa County
Yosemite national park is home to the tallest waterfall in the nation, which is partly the reason for the popularity of Yosemite Falls Trail. This hike is hard, but worth it. At the peak you'll enjoy views of the waterfall, breathtaking mountains and dense forest.
- Seven Falls, Santa Barbara
Now for a relatively easy option for hiking beginners - the Seven Falls trail. This hike is a three miles round trip, reaching an elevation gain of 800 ft. This trail is popular because of the creek and pools that you can bathe in. This is a perfect option for tourists visiting California looking to enjoy some of the unique natural experiences.
- Fern Canyon, Humboldt County
Fern Canyon, based in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, is home to the world’s tallest tree - the redwood. This trail in particular also comprises lush ferns that line the trail, making for a magic experience.
- Devil’s Punch Bowl, San Diego
Cedar Creek Falls, also known as Devil’s Punch Bowl, is a hike in San Diego that according to RootsRated is “not for the faint of heart”. This six mile hike takes approximately five hours to complete. You will enjoy a variety of trees, pools, waterfalls and views of San Diego.
- Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail, Death Valley
If you’re looking for something completely unique, this hike is for you. It’s also ideal for beginners, at less than two miles long and 9 ft elevation. The real feature of this hike is the salt flats that can make you feel like you’re on a different planet!
Hiking gear for beginners
Before attempting one of these hikes, make sure you have the right hiking gear. Here at WOLFpak, we have designed the most functional hiking backpacks on the market today, making them a must for any hiker.
WOLFpak hiking backpacks come in three size options: 25 liters, 35 liters or 45 liters, and a variety of colorstories to suit each individual. These hiking backpacks are ideal for outdoor adventures due to their clever design and pockets to separate different amenities and gear.
Here are some of the best features of our backpack for hiking:
- Fits Full Back
- Rip Proof
- Light Weight but Durable
- Dual Cup Holders (35L)
- Adjustable Side Straps and Flexible Top Carrying Handle
- Multiple Storage Pockets including Laptop Pocket
- Waist and Chest Belt for extra support
It’s pretty evident that California has some of the best hiking trails in the U.S. We hope this guide gave you some inspiration for your next hiking trip. Shop WOLFpak hiking backpacks now.