California has several mountainous regions that one can utilize for a nice hike. Some of these regions are also home to some of the most challenging hiking trails as well. This article will cover a few of these trails ranging from moderate difficulty to “Holy crap how the hell did I manage that” difficulty. Try these trails at your own risk, they will test you physically and you will most definitely feel it in the morning.
In the “moderate” difficulty corner, we have the Devil’s Punchbowl/Devil’s Chair trail near Pearblossom, California. This 7.4 mile long trail has an elevation gain of about 1000 feet and features a lot of scenic mountainside and river views. You will have to deal with lots of rocks around the area, so be sure not to trip! The long route can be a challenge for runners willing to test their limits in this near all terrain path. For those of you looking for the pure hike of the trail can try out the 1 mile loop trail, which takes you straight into the punchbowl, leading you into some of the most beautiful rock formations you can see in the area. One of the things that will make this a challenge is the hot temperatures that can occur during your hike. This will be especially challenging if you’re doing intensive training, so be sure to bring lots of water.
The “Hard” hike (Not so much as hard as it is occasionally dangerous) is the Escondido Falls hike trail off the Pacific Coast Highway. It is a four mile trail that pits you against the three tiers of Escondido falls. It is mostly a safe trip up until the third tier, which although full of beautiful scenery, can result in a dangerous fall if you’re not an experienced hiker. If you think this isn’t challenging enough, you can also try out the Bear Canyon Trail in Mount Baldy. The winter trekking is intense and involved skilled hikers. This 12 mile roundtrip hike will get your muscles pumping in any time of the year though. There is alternative option to the Bear Canyon Trail, which is the Devil’s Backbone trail. There are means to cut through the elevation, but honestly that’s cheating. You’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the San Gabriel mountains and a sore next day.
Now on to the “Holy crap how the hell did I manage that” difficulty. According to backpacker.com, there exists the “Cactus to Clouds Route”, that goes from Palm Springs, CA into Mt. San Jacinto. This insane trail starts you off right at the desert floor and makes you ascend over 10,700 feet up towards Mt. San Jacinto. For the extra challenge, backpacker.com suggests you run through the unmaintained trail for that extra rugged terrain. You’ll be faced with insane weather changes and harsh physical endurance breaking hiking/running, but boy does it sound insanely fun. There is a tram that can take you back to town if you just can’t make the trip on your own, so there is no need to be too worried about your end result of this trek. The vertical climb to the crown of the mountain is painful to note, as it will have rocks and boulders trying to block your way to the top.