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3 Family-Friendly Hikes in Southern California

3 Family-Friendly Hikes in Southern California

Thanks to Josh McNair from for accepting my invitation to guest post about his adventures!

When Michele invited me to write a guest post, I tried to figure out a good fit for this great resource she has created on the parks available in the OC. Since I have a limited knowledge of good parks as I am not yet a parent, I figured I could still write a post on family friendly hikes in Southern California for those families that are looking for an outdoor adventure with their children.

So here is my list of three great hikes you can do with younger children that are both exciting and not physically tolling:

Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside
Mt. Rubidoux is the quintessential hike for families. It is difficult enough that everyone will get a little work out but easy enough that everyone can still enjoy their time on the hike. It is about a mile and a half to the top, if you take the long way, but can be shorter if you opt for one of the steeper paths. Note that all of the paths do have an incline the entire time. This hike is located in Riverside, CA in the Inland Empire and features a huge cross at the top a well as a beautiful historical bridge on the way up.

This hike is well-traveled and always busy so you can feel safe when you are there, as there are many other families usually hiking it at any given time of the day. Check out Mt. Rubidoux if you are in the area and looking for a great family adventure. It should only take about 45 minutes to drive here from Orange County. Plan for around 2 hours to get up, hang out at the top and come back down.

Sunset Cliffs in San Diego
The Sunset Cliffs in San Diego are another perfect hike for families. This hike is more of a walk then it is a hike and you can make it as short or as long as you would like. The actual Sunset Cliffs area stretches for about 2 to 3 miles but you can simply park near Sunset Cliffs Natural Park sign and walk right down the steps to the beautiful area of beach and rocks below. There are small caves to explore, beaches to hang out on and even small tide pools, all in a beautiful setting that is perfect for a picnic or just hanging out, getting wet and watching the sunset.

This is an ideal hike for families who only want to do a little walking and not have to put any too any miles. The only downside is it will probably take you about an hour and a half to drive from Orange County. Once you are there it will only take you about 10 to 15 minutes to walk if you park near the stairs but you will want to plan on having a lot more time to explore and check out all it has to offer.

Heart Rock Falls in the San Bernadino Mountains
Located near Crestline in the San Bernadino Mountains, Heart Rock Falls is a beautiful and simple hike for the whole family. This hike is only about a mile each way and is mostly flat the entire time. However, its mile of hiking takes you on an adventure through the forest with lots of trees and plants, before bringing you to a 25 foot waterfall that has a perfect heart cut out right next to it. The heart itself could hold one person in each of its halves, just to give you an idea of its size. Make sure you are careful when you get there though as the view from where the below photo was taken is a small neighboring cliff that has a sharp drop on it of about 35 feet. The drive from Orange County will probably take at least an hour and the hike itself shouldn’t take more then another hour either, but plan on more time if you want to do more exploring.

So there it is, my top three hikes for families in Southern California. I will make sure to post again with more hikes for families to explore as I find them. If you have a great one I missed, make sure to leave it in the comments.

Josh McNair spends his time hiking, photographing and traveling around California for his blog He is an avid fan of the outdoors and loves to experience as much as he can of the beauty that California has to offer. Follow along with his blog to get examples of places that you may have never known existed right around your home.  (All photos courtesy of Josh McNair.)


Wednesday 30th of November 2011

Thank you for all the hiking ideas. We love to hike and haven't done any of these yet.

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