My Top 10 Hikes of 2019

Updated: Feb 13


2019 went way too fast. It seriously feels like just yesterday that I complied my list for 2018! I am really starting to appreciate these lists because as they keep growing, I am now using them to keep track of them all. For the third year in a row, I packed in as many hikes as I could in California, as well as overseas and in the different states where my travels took me. I was happy to make it back to Mammoth and Utah this year, and I am especially excited to share my hiking experiences in Japan! In no particular order, I hope you enjoy this year's list of my top 10 hikes of 2019:

1. THE SLOT, Borrego Springs CA

Length: 2.3 mile loop | Level: Easy | Duration: 1-2 hours | Elevation: 300 | Dogs: NO

Directions and full hike info here

If you live in southern California and you haven't visited Borrego Springs yet, I hope this inspires you to go. Anza-Borrego State Park is the big attraction there, for hikes like this! The Slot is one of the more popular loop trails because it is accessible and so cool. An easy walk, this hike is for all levels and takes you through the entire canyon weaving through tunnels as pictured above. It eventually loops around to an open clearing with turnoffs where you can ascend to see the entire view of the canyon. Only a few hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, this makes for sure makes a perfect weekend getaway.

2. KUMANO KODO PILGRIMAGE TRAILS, Japan

Length: Depends on section | Level: Moderate-Hard | Duration: 4-11 days depending on trek segments

Directions and full info here

My first official hike in Japan! There is so much to say about the Kumano Kodo Pilgimage trails, but I'll have to save that for a longer post. If you are not familiar with this trek, it is one of the more beautiful and remote areas of Japan. The trails follow the 11th century successive emperors and their families who made the long and difficult pilgrimage to Kumano from Kyoto. There are several segments of the trek that feature very picturesque grand shrines. I spent 4 days on the trek mixing hiking with a few bus rides, and staying in the very remote Onsen villages. The shrines are breathtaking in the wilderness. A beautiful and historical experience and one I will never forget. I will be going back here for sure to explore the segments I didn't get to.

3. GORGE-BEAR-LAKE TREMAN TRAILS, Buttermilk Falls State Park NY

Length: 3.2 miles out and back | Level: Easy-Moderate | Duration: 3 hours | Elevation: 587

Dogs: Yes on-leash

Directions and full hike info here

Though it may look like the jungle, this is one of the many beautiful gorges of upstate NY! I've done the full hike here at Buttermilk Falls State Park a few times, but this one was exceptional because it was pouring rain! Normally I don't love hiking in a storm, but this time it was welcomed because the weather was a super hot and humid 95 degrees! It really did feel like we were hiking through the jungle. The waterfalls and beautiful greenery here make this a perfect upstate NY hike.

4. ECHO MOUNTAIN TRAIL, Altadena CA

Length: 5.4 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 2.5-3 hours | Elevation: 1730

Dogs: Yes on leash

Directions and full park info here

This very popular hike here in the LA / Pasadena area offers a bit of history, a good workout and a great view! Fun to do with a group, the trail follows the old Mt Lowe railway route up to Echo Mountain, where you can see the old ruins of the Echo Mountain mountain resort. This trail has been noted in the press as one of the top 42 hikes in the west, as well as one of the 10 great North American hikes. Overall one of the best!

5. CORRAL CANYON TRAIL, Malibu CA

Length: 2.5 mile loop | Level: Easy | Duration: 2 hours | Elevation: 525 | Dogs: Yes on-leash

Directions and full hike info here

Another Los Angeles favorite - a few will always make an appearance on this list, and what better than an ocean overlook hike like this one in Malibu. Since this is full exposure to sun, it is best done in the winter months or early spring just after a rainfall, as pictured here. This trail is a staple for locals looking for a quick afternoon hike all year round. It's a perfect mix of an uphill workout, pretty landscape and of course the beautiful ocean Malibu is known for.

7. SPECTRA POINT/RAMPARTS OVERLOOK TRAIL, Cedar Breaks National Monument UT

Length: 4 miles out and back | Level: Moderate-Hard | Duration: 3 hours | Elevation: 830

Dogs: Yes on leash

Directions and full hike info here

No doubt, Utah has some of the best scenic hikes in the country, and this one was no different. A mini Bryce Canyon here at Cedar Breaks, this National Park often gets overlooked due to the other popular destinations nearby at Zion. I liked this hike for a few reasons: It's not crowded, it's a great escape from the heat in the summer since its high up in elevation, and it's a nice companion to it's neighboring Zion and Bryce. This trail itself is so pretty and it's easy to have parts of it to yourself to capture these epic views!

7. INSPIRATION POINT, Santa Barbara CA

Length: 3.75 out and back | Level: Easy | Duration: 2-3 hours | Elevation: 825 | Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full hike info here

This was my first hike ever in Santa Barbara, which feels weird for me to say seeing as though I live in LA. One of the more popular trails in the area, this hike is frequented by locals and offers a few different pathways up to the top where you'll find this view. I opted for the main route which had a bit of everything - ascent through mountains, beautiful trees and greenery, and of course this panoramic ocean view which on a clear day you can see the Channel Islands.

8. MOUNT YOSHINO TRAIL, Japan

Length: 4.9 miles out and back | Level: Moderate-Hard only due to some steep steps | Duration: 3 hrs Elevation: 1200 | Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full hike info here

Cherry blossom season is a big attraction when visiting Japan, and Mt Yoshino is one of the best places to see them. With over 30,000 trees to see here, I caught these right at the end of the season and was still in awe, so I can only imagine what it must be like seeing them in full bloom! The path to the top is mostly on a paved road that takes you through a small village with restaurants and small shops--a great place to grab lunch on your way down. Eventually the paved road turns into a beautiful mountain path up to the top pavilion (pictured here). A mix of history and beauty, it's easy to see why this is one of the top destinations in Japan.

9. GOLDEN CANYON-GOWER GULCH LOOP TRAIL, Death Valley CA

Length: 4 mile loop | Level: Moderate | Duration: 3-4 hours | Elevation: 675 | Dogs: NO

Directions and full hike info here

I can't say enough good things about Death Valley. This National Park really blew me away more than I thought it would. The beauty here is most unique, and if you can get lucky to visit in the winter after a rainfall, the colors aren't like anything you'll ever see. I really thought I was visiting another planet! Golden Canyon hike has it all - its doable for all level hikers as the ascents aren't crazy steep, every corner features a view like no other, and the landscape gives you a full sense of the beauty of the desert.

10. GEM LAKES - MOSQUITO FLATS TRAIL, Bishop CA

Length: 8.5 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 4-5 hours | Elevation: 1200 | Dogs: YES

Directions and full hike info here

This gorgeous trail is a must-do when visiting the Mammoth Lakes area. Like most of the hikes you'll find in the northern part of the INYO National Forest, your day is filled with gorgeous lakes and snow capped mountains. TIP: If you do this hike near dusk be sure to pack bug repellent. It's called Mosquito Flats for a reason as they come out in masses and will eat you alive!

That wraps up my top 10 list of hikes for 2019! Hope you enjoyed them! What were your favorites? Send me a DM or leave me a comment! Would love any suggestions for 2020. Happy New Year everyone!

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