What comes into your mind when you think of Southern California? Most probably, we all think of the famous Hollywood sign, Los Angeles, open dramatic spaces, great year-round weather, palm trees, and the world-famous SoCal beaches and numerous amusement parks! Southern California is one of the famous family-friendly destinations because there’s something for everyone.
But what if you love hiking? Exploring the woods and the mountains doesn’t seem like a Southern Californian thing, but it is. Did it come as a surprise? When Southern Cali says there’s something for everyone, that includes the ones who love admiring mountains from afar or immersing themselves in the great outdoors.
Here are 10 stunning mountain ranges in Southern California that will take your breath away, one hike or view at a time!
Sugarloaf Mountain – San Bernardino Mountains
The Sugarloaf Mountain is named that way because the early hunters and pioneers of the sugar loaves thought the mountain’s shape looked similar to the bread. If you’re wondering, the white spots on the mountain are snow. It has an extensive history, stretching across wars and catering to various soldiers.
Now, the Sugarloaf Mountain is open to everyone year-round, with nearly a quarter-million men, women, and even children visiting the mountain to enjoy the scenic views, hike, ride horseback along its trails, or have a picnic at its overlooks. Any season is the best season to go to Sugarloaf Mountain.
Location: Sugarloaf, CA 92386
Cucamonga Peak – San Gabriel Mountains
The Cucamonga Peak is one of Southern California’s most famous tourist spots and hikes. As you’ve seen all over Instagram and social media, this peak is where hikers enjoy the picturesque view and have a photo taken at the peak; that’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Cucamonga Peak is one of the highest peaks in SoCal and towers over the Inland Empire cities of Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, and Fontana. Though it looks like summertime, bringing a warm jacket or windbreaker is advisable to protect yourself from the elements that will welcome you as you go up and from the snow found on certain parts of the hike.
Location: Cucamonga Peak, California
Ontario Peak – San Gabriel Mountains
The Ontario Peak is Cucamonga Peak’s neighbor. This snowy peak offers a 19.5-kilometer out-and-back trail near Mount Baldy and is considered one of the most popular areas for hiking, even though it is considered one of the most challenging routes. The Ontario Peak is named after the nearby city of Ontario.
Many hikers say that Ontario Peak’s hiking trail is filled with bugs and rocky paths; the scenic view at the end automatically rewards them though one can enjoy the view from afar while sipping coffee or having a picnic with the family.
Location: San Bernardino County, California
Mt. Wilson – San Gabriel Mountains
Mount Wilson is a famous mountain for Southern Californians. Aside from its natural ones, one of its characteristics is the antennas on top of the mountain. You can never go wrong if you spot a cluster of antennas—that’s Mount Wilson for you. Every single radio or television station has Mount Wilson to thank for.
Mount Wilson brings a slightly challenging trail full of ascents, thick forests, mountain ridges, and streamside campsites. You can choose that or ride in your car instead to reach the peak. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with a great view like you’ve never seen before.
Location: San Gabriel Mountains, California 91759
Mt. Baden-Powell – San Gabriel Mountains
Named after the founder of the World Scouting Movement, Robert Baden-Powell, the Mt. Baden-Powell is a moderately challenging 8-mile trek famous for not being among the highest peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains. Because of that, it has easily become one of the popular trails for people to trek.
You can climb, hike, or mountaineer on Mt. Baden-Powell or enjoy its picturesque Mojave Desert views. Mt. Baden-Powell has a well-engineered trail that grooved into the side of the mountain in the 1930s, rewarding people with a safe yet enjoyable hike to this day.
Location: Mount Baden-Powell, Mt Baden-Powell, California 91702
Strawberry Peak – San Gabriel Mountains
Strawberry Peak is the most challenging peak in the San Gabriel Mountains as it is the most prominent but not the highest. It is called Strawberry Peak because it looks like an upside-down strawberry. The Strawberry Peak’s hike is relatively short yet challenging, filled with shaded canyons, brushes, and exposed rock-face bouldering.
The Strawberry Peak will give you jaw-dropping views of Los Angeles, Mt. Wilson, and Mt. Baldy on a clear day.
Location: San Gabriel Mountains, California 91759
Mt. San Gorgonio – San Bernardino Mountains
The Mt. San Gorgonio of the San Bernardino Mountains is the highest peak in Southern California. Because of this and its picturesque view, Mt. San Gorgonio has become home to ski resorts and excellent hiking trails that you can choose from. Mt. San Gorgonio offers the most breathtaking views in SoCal’s mountain ranges.
Location: San Gorgonio Mountain, California 92305
Mt. Baldy – San Gabriel Mountains
Mount Baldy, also called Mount San Antonio, is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains and the highest point in Los Angeles County. Although it is one of the most popular trails to hike, Mount Baldy is said to be more for seasoned hikers with its 2,300 feet climb. Although if you want to get up faster, you can always take a chair lift.
Mount Baldy is named that way because of the lack of trees on the top.
Location: San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Mt Baldy, CA 91759
Mt. San Jacinto – San Jacinto Mountains
Mt. San Jacinto sits 10,834 feet above sea level, making it the highest peak in the San Jacinto Range and the California State Park System. The thinning air will surely take your breath away, but more than that, coming into the heart of the wilderness will surely empower the adventurer in you.
You can take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of San Jacinto Mountain to enjoy the full view and the surroundings of Mount San Jacinto before returning to where your trail begins.
Location: Mount San Jacinto, California
Mt. San Bernardino – San Bernardino Mountains
The San Bernardino Mountain Range is a rugged range of mountains in Southern California. Mount San Bernardino, on the other hand, sits 10,649 feet above sea level, providing hikers with a great view of Mt. Baldy, Mt. San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, the Big Bear Lake, and the Inland Empire cities.
Location: San Bernardino, CA
Don’t the pictures already take your breath away? If you’re not fond of hiking, you can always ride around these mountain ranges and enjoy the view from afar. Some of the mountains mentioned above are attainable by car, so you can enjoy the peak and the views it brings without your hiking gear.
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