Picking an invigorating hike to pursue in the winter months doesn’t always mean snow and cold when you seek the perfect venue in the Southland. However, that also doesn’t mean you can’t find these kinds of elements to encounter, if you so desire. That said, following are five places to grapple, some of which may mean coming across some of nature’s more frozen moments. Enjoy!
Icehouse Canyon Trailhead
Ice House Canyon Road
Mt Baldy, CA 91759
If you’re eager to enjoy an alpine adventure during your hike, choose to take on Icehouse Canyon to Icehouse Saddle where all kinds of pine trees are in evidence, as are tall peaks and a mountain stream which may or may not be flowing. The tough part of this 4.4-mile trail in winter is that it has a tendency to freeze over, so be careful when you negotiate this finery and don’t stray very far from the beaten path.
San Gabriel Peak Trail
You won’t start in the snow but you might end up there once you reach the top of San Gabriel Peak, the second highest peak in the Front Range and located near Mt. Wilson. In addition, on a clear day, you’ll get to witness the Pacific including Catalina Island and beyond. To get to the trail that leads to the highest spot on this mighty mountain, take the dirt road that awaits beyond the ranger station. That’s where you’ll park. From there, expect steep switchbacks near the trailhead and an increasingly challenging climb as you continue onward.
Sunset Peak Trail
Highlights of this sublime winter weather hiking trail include the chance to see the remnants of a fire tower that once stood proud at the summit and, of course, some snow action if you time your walk just right. This is a good hike for beginners as it registers on the easy side due to the fact that you will be taking a fire road to get where you’re going (this kind of thoroughfare allows lots of walking space and a mostly level surface). Schedule three hours for this hike in order to complete the entire route, which is a about eight miles long.
Pacific Crest Trail
A brisk 8.4 mile hike up Gold Mountain northeast of Big Bear Lake takes you to an elevation of 1,300 feet. While meandering to your destination, realize that you’ll be negotiating more than one switchback while earning the chance to marvel at your surroundings which include high desert as well as an abundance of Jeffrey pines. Also realize that the markings aren’t great for this trail, especially on the descent, so do plan accordingly. On the hike, expect to witness all kinds of wildlife like coyotes, snakes, lizards and the occasional cougar.
Mishe Mokwa Trail
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Eager to reach the Santa Monica mountain range’s highest peak? That would be Sandstone Peak (or Mount Allen); the perfect winter weather hike for the more athletic among us. All told, you’ll be covering a six-mile loop from start to finish and back again, taking about three-and-a-half to four hours if all goes well. Along the way, you’ll get a gander at others arguably more athletic who are climbing rocks instead of mastering a trail and you’ll also a huge collection of wondrous sandstone formations as you pass by Split Rock, a huge boulder is split into pieces and attracts plenty of attention. Once you reach the top, you’ll have spectacular views above the clouds, should there be any on the day you choose this hike. Note: Dog members of the family are welcome to walk along as long as these furry friends are on leash.