Northern California’s Top Hiking Trails


Just a few hours away from Silicon Valley, these spectacular hiking destinations will transport your body, mind, and spirit to the most spectacular sightings, hiking, biking, and running adventures you’ll experience this summer! Let’s begin our first adventure with the largest: the Boole Redwood Tree in Three Rivers, on the General Grant Grove Area Trails. Sitting in the middle of the King Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park near Fresno and Visalia, the Boole Tree is the world’s largest living thing according to Wikipedia. This tree is taller than the Statue of Liberty at 370’, and larger than a Greyhound bus with a diameter of 20’. In fact, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the Boole Tree as our country’s National Christmas tree in 1926!

The Grant Grove Area Trails include six distinct trails and loops ranging in distance from ⅓ mile to 2 miles and a summit of 8,209’ on Big Baldy Ridge. No matter the trails or how many you choose, the redwoods and their forests will have you wonderstruck.

John Steinbeck in Travels with Charlie, 1961, writes of this premier nature attraction “...The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always...the feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe...they are not like any other trees we know; they are ambassadors from another time…”

From the largest and tallest Sequoia to what many consider the single most scenic stand of redwoods, let’s move on to Crescent City and the Stout Grove Trail. Within a quiet and usually uncrowded setting, Stout Tree dwarfs all the other trees in this redwood cathedral. Prime hike time for this short .6 mile flat trail is approximately 3-5 PM to capture the sheer photographic beauty of this magical place.

Up the coast Stout Grove, just 36 miles south of the Oregon border to Klamath, is the privately owned and operated Trees of Mystery. Mystery is the most accessible trail system for all ages and abilities. A 49’ rendering of Paul Bunyan and a 35’ Babe, the Blue Ox meet visitors at the entrance. An enclosed gondola for transport in and around the redwoods, cafe, motel, museum and gift shop are amenities among the Main, Wilderness and Sky Trail system at Mystery.

Lassen Peak sits above tree line at 8,500’ in Lassen. This peak offers a unique view of the most powerful volcanic activity prior to the 1980 emission at Mt. St. Helens, as it erupted repeatedly over three years from 1914-1917. If you’re in great shape, take the strenuous 2.5 mile hike to the summit (10,457’) for a breathtaking vista of Devastated Area.

Panorama of Ediza Lake, the Minaret Range, Mt. Banner & Mt. Ritter in Ansel Adams Wilderness
Panorama of Ediza Lake, the Minaret Range, Mt. Banner & Mt. Ritter in Ansel Adams Wilderness

Also in Lassen County is Eagle Lake just 15 miles north of Susanville. Eagle is the second largest alkaline lake situated entirely in the state of CA at 5,098’. Eagle Lake offers a full service marina, five campgrounds, 100 miles of shoreline, trout, osprey, geese, white pelicans and antelope, mule deer, and an occasional bear. Wonderfully, the Lassen College Foundation operates the grounds and marina to fund scholarships for Lassen Community College students.

The crown jewels of the Ritter Range lakes and trails include the Ediza Lake at 9,265’, Shadow Lake, and the Iceberg and Cecile Lake Trails. Ansel Adams opened the world’s eyes to these Mammoth Lakes; they are popular destinations and camping sites (camping only at Ediza). The Minarets spires of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak enhance the grandeur of this Inyo National Forest. The trails are strenuous with eye-popping scenery.

Grab your hiking shoes, water, and sunscreen, and check out these top hiking trails!