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Best Winter Hikes Near Orange County

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(credit: Thinkstock)

Aside from just the beautiful beaches, the beautiful year-round weather in Orange County is one of the perks for locals to enjoy. But, also the various hiking trails that surround the county are a huge plus. Southern California offers many canyons, mountains and slopes that are ideal for the perfect hike and for all experience levels to enjoy. Get in touch with nature and scenic views with these winter hikes near Orange County.

san jacinto
(credit: Sandy K./Yelp)

San Jacinto
25905 Highway 243
Idyllwild, CA 92549
(951) 659-2607

The second highest mountain in Southern California is located at this summit that is conveniently located between Los Angeles and San Diego. The hike here is filled with forests, granite peaks, scenic wilderness and there are two drive-in campgrounds, ideal for hikers and backpackers. Those who decide to camp must have a permit to do so. There is also a mountain station where there is a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar and state park visitor center. The self-guiding natural trail leads to panoramas of the area that over 10,000 feet in elevation.

(credit: CBS)

Bridge To Nowhere
Sheep Mountain at East Fork Road
Azusa, CA 91702
(626) 335-1251

Taking a hike in the San Gabriel region is filled with small trails that lead to streams, most notably the mysterious bridge that was built in 1936 over the east fork which no road leads to today. Back in the 1930s there was a road, but it was swept away by floods that took place in 1938. It is a beautiful and scenic route, but safety is something to keep in mind as there may be falling rocks at higher portions of the hike. Keep an eye out for swim holes and make sure to have proper attire before making the hike.

Kelso Dunes
(Photo by Truc Dever)

Kelso Dunes
90942 Kelso Cima Road
Kelso, CA 92309
(760) 252-6100

Just three miles west of Kelbaker Road, hikers who take advantage of this trail will enjoy cooler weathers at sunrise and sunset. Also, the rose-colored glow of the dunes are a great sight to see. The three mile hike takes a bit longer than expected because of the sand conditions and slopes, but it's well worth it. This desert wilderness has 1.6 million acres for camping and hiking and it also is a great place for 4-wheel driving and horseback riding.

Related: Best Running Trails In The Inland Empire

(credit: Mike Powell/Getty Images)

The Devil's Punchbowl
28000 Devil's Punchbowl Road
Pearblossom, CA 93553
(661) 944-2743

Open from sunrise to sunset, The Devil's Punchbowl was first opened in December 1963. Today, The Devil's Punchbowl Nature Center is dedicated to helping the public learn more about the flora, fauna and geological features of the park. The mountain peaks reach 8,000 feet in elevation and the punchbowl canyon is 300 feet deep below the vista point. Should you decide to bring your pet for the hike, remember to keep them on a leash for the sake of being safe. The trail is 3.7 miles to the Devil's Chair and about 7.5 miles round trip, expected to be about four hours hiking time.

View of Barker Dam in the 1,234-square-m
View of Barker Dam in the 1,234-square-mile Joshua Tree National Park, April 07,2008. (credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Barker Dam - Joshua Tree
Queen Valley Road
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

You can capture a rare view of water in the desert on the hike to Barker Dam. It is an easy and short trail for those that are beginners or for those that are looking for a simple hike in the region. The natural trail leads to the dam and loops to the old Keys Ranch land and the trail is easy to follow. The scenery is outstanding and the elevation gain is negligible. If you keep an eye open, you can spot the handwritten inscription of the Keys clan and cattle trough at the base of the dam during your hike.

Related: Walking Tour of Downtown Laguna Beach

Elle Toussi is a freelance journalist covering all things Southern California. She has traveled to the Middle East in 2013 and 2014 covering the Syrian refugee situation in Jordan. That experience inspired her to become the founder of which uses the power of mobile technology and philanthropy to meet specific needs of women around the world. Her previous work can also be found on and
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