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Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 | 83 comments

Summer Hiking Bucket List

Oh glorious summer!

I want to spend most of your days eating great good, walking along the coastal bluffs and seeing the mountains from a long, wood pier. And, add to that ice cream in all the colors of the rainbow!

Nevertheless, as much I enjoy taking it easy, I need some sort of action once in a while.  That is why summer is prime hiking time for me.  In the blog, you can read about the hikes I have already done in Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Parks.

Things do not end up in there.  Today, I want to share my hiking bucket list for the summer.

Channel Islands National Park

Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Hike in Santa Cruz Island

Length: 5 miles round trip

Level: Moderate

This National Park consists of five islands off the coast of California. Because of that, it is one of the less visited parks in the United States.  However, the access difficulties should not scare away any true explorer.

Santa Cruz Island is the largest in the archipelago and can be reached in an hour by boat from Ventura or Oxnard.

Boats take visitors to Prisoner Harbor or Scorpion Anchorage (not very nice names, I know).  The hike I am interested in doing starts at Scorpion Beach and offers spectacular coastal views. In addition, it is possible to encounter wildlife unique to the island such as the island fox or island scrub jay.

Hikers should carry food and water since there are no services on the site.  Camp sites are available if you want to stay the night.

Channel Islands National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Moses Spring to Rim Trail Loop

Length: 2.2 miles round trip

Level: Moderate

Pinnacles is another National Park located not that far from where I live.  The Park protects a mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley (Central California).  The park’s name refers to the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano.  The interesting thing is that the remains have moved 200 miles from its original location on the San Andreas Fault (?).

The trail I am interested in doing leads to the Bear Gulch Cave, one of the two Talus Caves located in the park.  Talus caves are openings formed between boulders piled up on mountain slopes. Most of them are very small both in length and in cross section.

After reaching the cave, the hike takes visitors to a reservoir and to viewpoints from where the iconic rock formations (the pinnacles) are observable.  Remember Pinnacles is one of the few places where condors in captivity have been released. Therefore, the possibility of observing one in the wild is higher than in other places.

Pinnacles National Park

Mount Woodson Trail

Length: 6.6 miles round trip

Level: Difficult

This hike offers breathtaking hikes from the top.  But, the main reason people do it is because of a formation known as Potato Chip Rock (lots of people want to get a photo over it to post on Instagram).  See the image below.

I am a sucker for rock formations, so, I have wanted to do this hike for quite some time.

Mount Woodson Trail in San Diego

Montaña de Oro State Park

Bluff Trail

Length: 2.1 miles one way, side trails allow for outings between one and five miles

Level: Moderate

Montaña de Oro State Park preserves 8,000 acres along the striking coast of San Luis Obispo County and it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful preserves in the state system. Many years ago, I did part of this trail under gray skies and heavy winds. I vowed to return under better weather conditions.

A hike of around three miles round trip with 90 feet of elevation change is the perfect way to see all the tide pools, beaches, rock islands, and natural bridges, along the superb coastline, hitting highlights like Corallina Cove, Quarry Cove, and Grotto Rock.  You can observe everything from the bluffs but I suggest to descend to sea level to get a better perspective of this coastal environment.

To better appreciate what the park has to offer, go prepared to spend at least half a day on the perimeters (have a big breakfast in Morro Bay before hitting the trails).

Bluff Trail  in Montaña de Oro State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

 Ewoldsen Trail

Length: 4.5 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate

Many people stop by this park to take a look at the famous McWay Falls.  However, the park offers old growth redwood forest, scrub landscapes, sweeping canyon and ocean views.

During my first visitor to Big Sur, I was guilty of only stopping by to see the waterfall.  However, I recognize this area is more than its iconic locations.  My dream is to camp in this park (or in nearby parks) and spend several days hiking around.

I have done some research about the best hikes in Big Sur and this one comes at the top most of the times.  Because of that, I think I would like to start my deeper exploration by hiking along the McWay Creek and giant redwoods.

 Ewoldsen Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Where do you want to hike this summer? Please share your ideas in the comments section.

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


This post is part of Monday Escapes at My Travel Monkey, Travel Tuesday at Bumble Bee MumOur World Tuesday, Wanderful Wednesday at Lauren on Location, Wordless Wednesday at Image-in-ing, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox , Photo Friday at Pierced Wonderings,  Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond  and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and a Southerner. Pay a visit to these wonderful blogs!

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    • Thanks! I will love to see more of the National Parks too. I would love to visit at least three more before th eend of the year.

    • Glad you liked it!

    • That is why I will love to visit or revisit.

    • Count on it! I like to share my love for the outdoors.

    • Well, I am not the best hiker or walker but most of this hikes are easy or moderate. They can be done at a relatively slow pace.

    • Thank you! I know you are a fan of places like these.

  1. Not necessarily this summer, but I want to go to Julia Pfeiffer and Pinnacles and back to the giants of Northern California.

    • That is great! I think those places are closer to you than to me.

    • No, I have not been to Potato Chip Rock. But, the poses people do on it are crazy. Just Google the name.

    • Glad you liked them! Thanks for stopping by!

    • I understand. For summer, I try to find shaded trails.

    • That would be great! At least, I want to do the first two. Fingers crossed!

    • I use to have a local bucket list. Every time I discovered an interesting place in the area, I used to add it to the list. I have not updated it in a long time. Need to get back to it.

  2. Gorgeous photos! I’d want to hike each location you showed, Ruth,although I doubt I’d try balancing on the “potato chip” rock for fear I’d break it!

    I hope to visit a few national parks I have not as yet visited. Summer is passing quickly so I really hope I’ll find the time to do this.
    Pat recently posted..Statue of Liberty from a ride on the Staten Island FerryMy Profile

    • I have not been to potato chip rock but I think is bigger and stronger than we think. I have seen photos where about ten people get over the rock. I get what you say about summer. I feel like it is slipping away and I still want to do tons of stuff.

    • Thanks Corinne! California has so many nice trails. It is difficult to decide which ones to do first.

    • I think is is good to do a list of local hikes you want to do (or places you want to visit). In that way, you keep in mind the trails you want to do.

  3. I have to admit that we’re totally guilty of only stopping to see the falls, but we also didn’t have that much time to hike. I would love to go back to Big Sur for a longer period of time and actually do some hiking! All of the hikes that you want to do this summer sound fantastic!
    Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders recently posted..Would You Rather- Travel EditionMy Profile

    • Our first trip to Big Sur was part of a bigger trip that included Carmel, Monterey and other cities. We took a day to drive from Morro Bay to Carmel. There is a lot we haven’t done or experienced on the route.

  4. WOW! Those places all look amazing, but there’s no way that I’m going to make it there since I’m living in Russia working full-time plus overtime…lol! I will definitely get outside of Moscow though for day trips. 😀
    Trekking with Becky recently posted..Photo Friday: Ploshchad Revolyutsii StationMy Profile

    • Ahh! I see. I knew you left Corea but didn’t know you established yourself in Russia. I am eager to learn more about the country thru your posts.

  5. Some stunning hikes here, Ruth. I love the sound of most of these – and not too long and arduous either so I could probably do most of them with my kids. There’s nothing like a good hike to enjoy the best views, get out into the open air and enjoy the right to a gorgeous meal at the end of the walk! #WanderfulWednesday
    Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) recently posted..A Tour of Buckingham PalaceMy Profile

    • I am sure these are all apt for kids. The only bad part is when kids beat you at walking. They have so much energy and basically leave you in the dust.

  6. They all look fabulous but the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park really looks so beautiful


    • Right, that is the perfect hike to experience old growth redwoods (not that far from where I live).

  7. I would love to do some of these hikes, particularly the one in the Channel Islands National Park. Funnily enough I am just writing a blog post on the same subject but within my own country, Australia. I really enjoy hiking too!
    Kathy recently posted..24 Hours in TokyoMy Profile

    • Good! I am interested in reading your post. Channel Islands is the closest park we have. I hope we can go there next.

  8. This is quite the list! All of these look amazing and so different! Most of my well, winter hiking spots are around Santiago. I’ve been so happy to find so many trails and that I’ve had the time to conquer so much of my bucket list already! 😀 Good luck in your quest!
    Lauren recently posted..Santiago Weekend Trips: Cajon del Maipo Part 1My Profile

    • I have been reading about your hikes around Santiago and they are incredible. My selections in here are not necessarily mountain related but I like them like that.

  9. Amazing bucket list! I think it’s wonderful you’ve included National Parks, especially Channel Islands. I haven’t been yet, but since it’s one of the least-visited parks, I’d be intrigued to experience it without tons of visitors around.
    Brooke of Passport Couture recently posted..Conservation at Red Butte GardenMy Profile

    • You gotta include National Park! I mean they have some of the best scenery around here, right? I have sailed around one of the Channel Islands but have never set foot in one of them. I hope that changes soon.

  10. I love accessing places by boat so I’d love this. I can certainly see the attraction of Potato Chip Rock and I’d love to see the orange flowers.
    budget jan recently posted..20 Photos from LjubljanaMy Profile

    • I enjoy accessing places by boat too. I think that is why this particular National Park is so attractive to me.

    • I think that is the more fun loving hike of the list. I can’t wait to do it.

    • Wow! That sounds amazing. I can walk forever of flat terrain. The inclines are what kill me.

  11. They all look great to me – and I’ve especially had my eye on the Channel Islands! We are headed to California in October and hope to do some fun hiking there!

    • There is a lot to chose in California. I am sure you are going to find something that fit your preferences.

  12. You are really an avid hiker, Ruth! It’s a fantastic way to enjoy nature and get a workout at the same time, I think. I really admire your commitment to it, because even though I like hiking too and keep telling myself I need to explore some of the trails around Singapore when I’m not travelling, I’ve never actually gotten around to it. The pictures you posted look amazing. Potato Chip Rock would make a great Instagram picture indeed! Keep us updated 🙂
    Michelle | michwanderlust recently posted..Chiang Mai: Ziplining with GibbonsMy Profile

    • Michelle, thanks for your comment. To be honest, I am pretty much destroyed after a work week. However, I try to make an effort to go out and do something (even if I do not have concrete plans). We sometimes go and plan on the way.

  13. What a great idea to have a hiking bucket list and the scenery looks amazing. We didn’t get chance for a hike but Big Sur was absolutely stunning when we visited this summer. #theweeklypostcard
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted..Travels with a child – four years onMy Profile

    • Well, Big Sur is perfect to explore by car. I am sure you guys had plenty of opportunities to stop and admire nature.

    • Great! Hope you can accomplish some of these in the future!

  14. That stone where you are standing is just awesome and cool! I miss doing this and your post made me miss hiking more =) #photofriday
    Merlinda Little (Glimmer of Hope) recently posted..SeptemberMy Profile

    • Well, I am not the one standing on the rock. I got the photo from a stock site. But, I guess the photo gives you an idea of why I want to do the walk.

  15. Fabulous pictures. They make me want to pack my camera and go hiking!

    • Great you feel like that! I want to go hiking too!

    • Rhonda, I have not explored Northern California a lot. That is something I “must” do. There are so many gorgeous places there.

    • Thanks Jim! I hope I can do most of these soon.

    • Well, I guess in The Netherlands is more like urban walks.I am sure those can get interesting too.

  16. Wow, what a comprehensive list – great post. I tend to do hiking in winter as summer temperatures in Australia are much too high for long distance trekking. My favourite trek is the Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

    • Thanks for sharing your favorite hike with me. I feel like I do not spend a lot of time in nature when I travel outside the country.

    • I totally get you. I am not the greatest hiker but I can walk forever.

    • Well, sometimes we get into these routines and we forget to spend some time in nature. That is one of the reasons I created this list. I want to make them a reality.

    • We like to have a great meal before or after our walks. Those are two things that go together (at least for us).

    • Sally, I know it is hard to believe but we have those beautiful islands very close to us. And, the great thing is that they are often visited.

    • I do not know who came up with those names but I am sure the islands where full of illegal activity at some point.

  17. I’d love to do this hike. Looks like so much fun. Especially climbing that rock formation. It looks so strange, I have never seen anything like it.

    • I am sure you would enjoy any of these hikes.

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