My Top 10 Hikes of 2020

Hello and welcome to the end of 2020! I'm pretty sure we can all agree that it's been a whirlwind of a year and saying goodbye to it can't come soon enough. As much as I am so ready to put 2020 behind us, I'm very thankful I was still able to hike and put this list together for the fourth year in a row. And just to change it up a bit, I decided to base this year's list on what all of you liked as your favorites–taken from my instagram posts.


Sadly due to Covid, what you won’t see are any international hikes this year. Everything will be from my home stomping grounds in California, and neighboring states where I was able to road trip. It has been a fun year exploring locally, so I’m excited to be sharing all of these beautiful and unique places. So, in order of what you liked most, below are your top favorite hikes of 2020!

1. FIRE WAVE TRAIL, Valley of Fire State Park NV

Length: 1.5 miles out and back | Level: Easy | Duration: 1-2 hours | Elevation: 236 | Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full park info here

The most popular hike of the year and it's easy to see why. It's not often you get to stand on rock formations that look like giant swirls of ice cream! Valley of the Fire State park in Nevada is an incredible place- a true natural treasure of the desert. Just an hour outside of Las Vegas, it can be done as a day trip from there, or a longer trip if you make accommodations in the small nearby town of Overton. There are also many places to camp or RV right inside the park. Either way you choose, spending a day or two is so worth it as this was one of the best state parks I've ever visited! Look out for a more detailed post on all the cool stuff I saw here coming soon in the new year.


2. CALICO HILLS - CALICO TANKS, Red Rock Canyon National Park NV

Length: 5.2 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 3-4 hours | Elevation: 1730

Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full park info here

Next on the list as your second favorite is a neighboring National Park to the above, also found in Nevada. One of the more unique and scenic hikes, this trail is a combination of two very popular ones that you can break up or do all at once. I did them both and made a day out of it for the full 6 miles or so. The Calico Hills and Tanks are the main part of the park to walk the red rock formations- very similar to what you’d find in Sedona and parts of Utah. While this was only one of two National Parks I visited this year (low for me), I was very happy they were still open at limited capacity. Who knew Nevada had so many cool things outside of Vegas?!



3. CALABASAS PEAK, Topanga CA

Length: 4.5 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 2-3 hours | Elevation: 900

Dogs: Yes on-leash | Parking fee: $5

Directions and full hike info here

The path of the gods

Pictured here is one of my local go-tos as it is a beautiful escape from the city hidden off of Topanga Canyon in the hills. I was actually a bit surprised this one was so popular, but it was the best hike to do at the beginning of Covid during lockdown. Isolated, and a little hard to find, I frequented here due to its location and ease of social distance hiking. It was one of the top hikes I recommended to get outside while we were in quarantine due to its remote location and wide trails. Perfect pandemic mental health remedy!

4. WIND CAVES, Anza Borrego State Park CA

Length: 3.2 miles out and back | Level: Easy-Moderate | Duration: 3 hours | Elevation: 587 | Dogs: NO

Directions and full hike info here

lookout mountain phoenix

Borrego Springs is a special place, with landscapes like another planet so this one is a no brainer as a top pick. Wind Caves is a short but beautiful trail, with views like this that are hard to believe exist just 3 hours outside of Los Angeles. This gem is accessible only off of a 4x4 OVH trail through the Sandstone Canyon/Fish Creek Wash found in Anza-Borrego State park. A fun 2020 Valentine’s Day weekend escape, this was one of my most memorable pre-covid hikes.

5. DEVILS CHAIR, Pearblossom CA

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

Directions and full hike info here

sherwin lakes trail

One of my personal favorites, this the only larger group hike I did in 2020- pre Covid last March. Found in the San Gabriel mountains - this 7.5 trek is the perfect area to go if you want to drive further outside of the city and be completely remote. It’s a classic must-do for LA hikers! So glad I fit this in when we did, as it is currently closed due to the fires earlier this year. Set to open back in April and I hope it’s not too damaged!

7. KEYSTONE THRUST, Red Rock Canyon National Park NV

Length: 2.4 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 3 hours | Elevation: 567 | Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full park info here

snow lake trail

Another favorite from Nevada's Red Rock Canyon National Park, this is a neighboring trail to the red Calico Tanks hike mentioned above. Part of my Thanksgiving road trip, this was my first official hike in the park and a great introduction to this area! The Keystone Thrust Earthquake fault, which is visible as you ascend up to this view is one of the prominent geological features to see while visiting here.

7. COUGAR CREST TRAIL, Big Bear Lake CA

Length: 5 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 2-3 hours | Elevation: 900 | Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full hike info here

vasquez rocks

One of Big Bear’s finest, I was so happy to be able to explore this trail with my crew (covid safe of course) this past June. This hike is a beautiful ascent through the forest and has the best panoramic views of Big Bear lake. It's a great one for all skill levels, and connects to a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail for longer extensions. For complete details on this hike and how to get there, head on over here to visit my full writeup.

8. HISTORIC RAILWAY TRAIL, Lake Mead NV

Length: 7.6 miles out and back | Level: Easy | Duration: 3-4 hrs Elevation: 11 | Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full hike info here

Coming in at #8 was a bucket list trail I was finally able to check off. The Historic Railway Trail found in Boulder City, Nevada takes you on a 6-7 mile path through tunnels of the Hoover Dam railway. It’s a beautiful hike with gorgeous views of Lake Mead, and a little bit of history that ends right at the Hoover Dam if you complete the whole thing. It is the only remaining section of this railroad system that hasn’t been destroyed or under water. A perfect day outing for all hiker levels, this was one of my most significant hikes of the year so I’m happy it made the list!

9. PIEDRA BLANCA CAMP TRAIL, Ojai CA

Length: 6.2 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 3-4 hours | Elevation: 872

Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full hike info here

skyline trail bath england

The one good thing about quarantine this year, was discovering new places to hike where you live. This trail here in Ojai CA, about 1.5 hours outside of Los Angeles was just that and such a great find! I can’t believe it was my first time exploring here, but now it for sure won’t be the last. Piedra Blanca Camp Trail is a beautiful, moderate level hike that can be done as a day trip as I did here with my crew, or a 2 day overnight if you want to camp and extend it. The white sandstone formations are definitely the highlight of this one and make for the best photo ops!

10. KENTER LOWERBACK CANYON TRAIL, Los Angeles CA

Length: 4.4 miles out and back | Level: Moderate | Duration: 2-3 hours | Elevation: 500

Dogs: YES on leash

Directions and full hike info here

And last, but certainly not least is a local favorite to Los Angelenos found in the beautiful hills of Brentwood. Another staple especially if you are hiking with dogs, this was the first group pre-covid hike that we kicked the new year off with back in January. Looking at this photo now, who knew then in just 2 months we'd be locked down and not able to hike together like this for awhile!

And that wraps the list of your favorites of 2020. Despite not being able to travel, I am happy I was still able to hike a lot and visit neighboring cities and states to explore. It really made me appreciate the simple things and what I have in my own backyard! It was also nice to seeing what your favorites were as compared to mine, and I'm thinking of updating this in a bit to do a few honorable mentions that didn't make it. But until then, GOODBYE 2020, and HELLO 2021!

Like it? PIN IT!


Recent Posts

See All