If your dream vacation is set in a forest, there are many options for making it a vacation you won’t forget. Whether you want to hike or canoe in to fish and tent camp, drive your RV for a “plug and play” vacation, or if you want to relax in a mountain resort and feel pampered, there is a forest, mountain, campground or resort just waiting for you to visit. There is even an option for making it a vacation you can enjoy again and again!
One of the reasons to visit Olympic National Park is that it is one of the most unique biomes in the continental United States, if not the world. Although there are many factors that have led to Olympic National Park becoming such a unique location, one of the factors has been the frequent and abundant rainfall that the region has received throughout the years. Even though rainfall totals vary, in general, the park receives at least 140 inches of rain per year; and all of the rainfall that the park receives has also led to the formation of large rivers, and spectacular waterfalls. While the park has many accessible waterfalls that visitors can view and explore, the easiest waterfall to view and visit is Merriman Falls, even though the waterfall is technically slightly outside of the park’s boundaries in the Olympic National Forest.
One of the great things about California is that it is a state with rich pre-European history and post-European history. With respect to the latter, California has a number of state parks and monuments dedicated to the Gold Rush of the Nineteenth Century, along with a number of museums that do an excellent job of preserving the history of the state. While all of these locations are fantastic, most of these locations prefer that visitors do not touch or handle the relics of the past. However, California also has an area where visitors can experience what some of the amenities of the nineteenth century were like at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (“YMSPRR”).
Outside of the big three hikes in San Diego – “Potato Chip Rock”, Cowles Mountain, and Iron Mountain - the Cedar Creek Falls hike is one of the top five most popular hikes in the entirety of San Diego County. And, unlike many claims made about hiking in San Diego, this is not blogger hyperbole, this is a verified fact. The Forest Service website for the area even states that this trail is “...possibly the most traveled trail in the Palomar District”. As Cedar Creek Falls is so popular, no description of the hike would be complete without getting into why the trail and the waterfall is and has been so popular.
Before there were any of the superstars that grace magazines, social media postings, and every aspect of modern day life, there were a smaller series of stars of early Hollywood that first America, and then the world knew. Out of this group, by far, the most infamous was Lon Chaney. While Lon Chaney has somewhat disappears into the mists of history, in his heyday, he was well-known as “The Manof a Thousand Faces”, and turned in iconic performances as the Phantom of the Opera, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, among many others. Although there are many interesting facts about Lon Chaney, one of the more little-known facts about him is that he had a 1,288 square foot cabin built in the Inyo National Forest. While Lon Chaney is long gone the cabin remains to this day, and is a great halfway point for a day-hike through some of the more pristine wilderness in the Eastern Sierra.
For the majority of the United States and the world, Los Angeles is many things, including an urban mecca. And even though it may not seem like it, Los Angeles is also a hiking mecca as well. Like most of Southern California, Los Angeles has a variety of terrain types ranging from beach, to alpine, to desert, and almost everything in between. Although there are many great hikes in the city of Los Angeles, and the greater Los Angeles area, there is only one hike that leads to an abandoned bridge in the middle of the San Gabriel Mountains. Over the last twenty years, this hike has become known as “the Bridge to Nowhere” hike, and is perhaps one of the most popular hikes in the city, if not the most popular.
San Diego is a hiker’s mecca. From the trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve on the Coast, to the city’s highest point at Cowles Mountain, and through the East County trails of Iron Mountain and El Cajon Mountain, there is literally a hike for every person, and for every skill level. In addition to all of these trails, and the thousands more I didn’t mention, San Diego is also a great location for overnight camping, from backpacking to car-camping and everything in between. Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve been lucky enough to explore much of San Diego’s backcountry in a number of ways, and am thrilled to be working with Expedia.com on this article to recommend some of the best overnight wilderness hiking areas. While overnight wilderness activities have innumerable perks, the locations within the confines of San Diego allow visitors the added benefit of a little extra wilderness solitude to recover from the hustle and bustle of everyday Southern California life. The locations listed below provide a great starting point for overnight wilderness activities in the County, and hopefully provide inspiration for many nights in some of the most pristine backcountry that can be found in Southern California.