Join our Seven SoCal Summits Hiking Challenge! We have picked seven amazing summit hikes to the highest peaks in the ranges surrounding LA. Challenge your body and your mind while enjoying the wildlife and amazing views of SoCal in very diverse mountain settings. Most of all challenge yourself to complete all 7 of these hikes with us this season!
These longer hikes are a lot of fun, and the views are stunning, it’s a great way to plan to spend your day. These are all challenging but you will leave with new friends, a sense of accomplishment and the calm feeling that comes from a day spent deep in nature. As a bonus these hikes are also great training for other epic adventures on our schedule like Mount Whitney and Half Dome! (Depending on the permit lottery)
Planning is key to your enjoyment so check out our recommended gear list below and the minimum things to bring on each hiking page. Bring a lot of snacks and lunch and have plenty of calories for breakfast. The calorie burn on a long hike is huge. Energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, or trail mix are great options. Also bring plenty of water, I recommend at least 3 liters for most of these plus a bottle of electrolytes.
Your hiking leaders are experienced on these routes, navigation, and first aid so you are in good hands and stand the best possible chance safely summit each time. We cannot guarantee a summit experience, nature, weather, and the physical condition of the group are some of the many factors beyond our control. Check out the schedule, bring your friends and enjoy the beauty of SoCal!
2023 Challenge Schedule
Sandstone Peak April 15th, 2023
Location: Santa Monica Mountains
Date: April 15th 9:00am
Length: 6 miles
Elevation Gain:1,400 feet
Peak Elevation: 3114 feet
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica mountains. We will meet at the trail head at 9:00 am and should be finished by noon depending on our pace.
This is a beautiful hike typical of the range with amazing views. There isn’t much shade or large trees along the way so be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen!
Please check our “what to bring” list on this page and sign up so that we know who we are expecting at the trailhead before we begin.
Trailhead parking can be difficult so please consider joining the carpool chat!
Santiago Peak June 3rd 2023
Location: Santa Ana Mountains
Date: June 3rd, 8:30am
Length: 16 miles
Elevation Change: 3950 feet
Peal Elevation: 5689 feet
Santiago Peak is the highest point in Orange County. The views are amazing and on a clear day you can see Catalina Island, Mt Baldy and even over to San Jacinto! We will begin this full day hike at 8am. We plan to eat lunch at the peak so bring snacks and pack your lunch. The peak elevation on this on this one is not as high as some of the others and even though the elevation gain is significant the length of the hike helps to keep this in the moderate range for most. We should finish up around 4pm depending on our pace and how long we linger.
Extremely limited trailhead parking please consider joining the carpool chat!
Mt Wilson June 24th 2023
Location: San Gabriel Mountains (Pasadena area)
Date: June 24th, 8:30am
Length: 15 miles
Elevation Gain: 5640 feet
Peak Elevation: 5713 feet
Difficulty Level: Hard
Mt Wilson it a beautiful hike through the pines. It’s approximately 7.5 miles to the top where there is an Observatory and even a restaurant! We will hike to the top and take a break for lunch and hang out at the peak for a bit. We plan to finish up around 4pm depending on our pace and how long we want to linger at the top!
Trailhead parking can be difficult so carpool if you can.
Parking is very limited for this trail so please consider joining the carpool chat!
Mt San Antonio “Old Baldy” July 15th 2023
“Old Baldy” (Mt San Antonio)
Location: East San Gabriel Mountains
Date: July 15th 8:30am
Length: 11 miles
Elevation Gain: 3990 feet
Peak Elevation: 10,064 feet
Mt San Antonio is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains and LA County. It’s a hike that should be on every SoCal hiking bucket list.
We will leave the trailhead at 8:30am and hike the entire trail clockwise. That is 11 miles with an elevation gain of 3990 feet. We will descend the Devil’s Backbone and can take a break at the top of the ski lift on the way down to refill on water if needed.
The views from Baldy are amazing and we will hang out at the top for a bit, relax, and have lunch to soak it all in! We should finish up our hike around 4:30pm depending on how long we linger at the top.
Trailhead parking can be difficult so carpool if you can.
Parking at the trailhead is limited so please consider joining the carpool chat!
San Gorgonio Peak Cancelled New Date Coming Soon!
Location: San Bernardino Mountains/San Gorgonio Wilderness area
Date: New Date Coming Soon!
Length: 18 miles
Elevation Gain: 5700 feet
Peak Elevation: 11,499 feet
Difficulty Level: Hard
Our hikes get a little more challenging and the views a little more stunning along the way. San Gorgonio is the tallest peak in the San Bernardino range and the highest in Southern California. Altitude will be a factor on this one so we will plan to move at a slower pace and make sure everyone has an enjoyable albeit challenging experience. The hike is beautiful and we will have lunch at the peak to soak in the views! We plan to finish up around 4pm depending on our pace and how long we linger.
Trailhead parking can be tight please consider joining the carpool chat!
San Jacinto Peak Aerial Tramway Route September 9th 2023
San Jacinto Peak VIA Aerial Tramway
Date: September 9th, 9am
Location: San Jacinto Mountains-Palm Springs
Length: 11 miles
Elevation Gain: 2620 feet
Peak Elevation: 10,834 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard due to altitude and length
Cost: $29.00 for aerial tram ticket
Lodging: We will secure group rate lodging for anyone who would like to drive up on Friday night and return on Sunday to enjoy Palm Springs.
Our last Seven Summits hike for the season boasts one of the best views of them all! Be prepared for cooler temperatures this time of the year, layering will be important.
We will arrive at the aerial tramway at 9am and head to the top where we will embark on an amazing journey to the peak. There are facilities at the tramway area where we can refill water or whatever we need. We will plan to have lunch at the summit and enjoy the view before we head back down.
We should be finished up by 4pm or so depending on how long we linger at the summit and will catch the next available tramway back down.
The cost of the tram is $29 round trip and you will need to purchase your ticket when you book this hike.
We are going to get group rates for a hotel in Palm Springs or an Air BNB in Indio. If you are interested in staying with the group, please let us know by checking the box on the booking form. Also please let us know in the comments if you will be single occupancy, double occupancy with a guest, or if you would like to book double occupancy but need to have an assigned roommate.
When we have a head count for the rooms, we will contact the hotel and make arrangements. Generally, hotels and Air BNBs in the area will cost around $100 per room per night for a 3 star with breakfast included. Rooms will be booked Friday night checking out on Sunday so after the hike on Saturday we can enjoy Palm Springs or the pool. We will find a hotel where we can do yoga!
What to bring: water, sunscreen, hat, sturdy shoes (hiking boots or trail running shoes are recommended), hiking poles, day pack or hydration pack with a 3 liter water capacity, an additional bottle containing electrolytes is highly recommended. Bring plenty of snacks and lunch.
The weather in the fall is cool with highs in the upper 30’s to mid 40’s but the sun is intense and you will be moving. Layering is key! Be sure to layer up so that you can adjust to keep your body comfortable throughout the hike. Light gloves are also recommended to keep your hands warm.
Trailhead parking is tight please consider joining the carpool chat!
Sawmill Mountain September 23rd 2023
Location: Chumash Wilderness/Los Padres National Forest
Date: September 23rd, 2023 9:00am
Length: 7.4 Miles
Elevation Change: 1,500 feet
Peak Elevation: 8,822 Elevation
After the challenge of San Gorgonio we thought we might take it easy on this one. Sawmill is the highest peak in Kern County and second highest peak in the San Emigdio Mountains. We will begin this hike a little later because it’s a little more driving distance to get there and we will have reasonably good cover for the hike. There are actually two summits on the hike, one is Sawmill the highest point in Kern County and the other is Mt Pinos the highest point in Ventura County and the San Emigdio Mountains. We will cross both off our list on this hike! There are a couple of places to linger on this hike so plan to pack a lunch and we will find a breath taking spot to enjoy it either at the peak or perhaps the condor observation site.
Trailhead parking can be tight please consider joining the carpool chat!
Your shoes are one of the most important things to get right for your hike. You should never break in a new pair of boots or shoes on the trail, always wear them around for a week or so to break them in before the hike.
Know your terrain! Make sure that your footwear provides adequate protection and support for the hike. This includes some ankle support especially for rocky or slippery terrain where you have a higher likelihood of rolling onto the inside or outside edges of your foot. Some people prefer not to have the ankle support and trail running shoes have become a very popular and comfortable alternative for light hiking.
Recommendation: I recommend a light hiking boot with a Vibram sole and ankle support. It should be waterproof and breathable. This is versatile and will work in nearly every hiking situation. The ability to tie the boot above the ankle will help protect your toes going downhill. Be sure the sole is adequate to protect your feet when you are walking on rocks. Get measured and make sure you have the proper length and width. You should also wear a thick hiking sock to protect your feet from blisters. Each manufacturer fits a little differently especially in the toe box so try on a few pairs and find one that works for your feet. Don’t forget to account for your feet swelling too. It’s a good idea to get measured and fitted later in the day when your feet are naturally a little swollen.
Always check the weather conditions and know your terrain when you are selecting your clothing. It’s always good to have extra clothing with you in case you get into an emergency and need a change of clothes.
Layering is your friend so find the right combination for the high and low temperatures on your hike and be sure to prepare for the night time low’s in case you get lost or end up not getting back before dark.
- Hat with a wide brim. I use one that can be rolled up and stored in my pack.
- Sunglasses with adequate UV protection.
- Sunscreen. This is a must and use the kind that will not come off with sweat.
- Protective clothing.
There are a lot of benefits to using hiking poles.
- A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine reported that hiking poles can reduce the compressive force on the knee by 25%. So, you are saving wear and tear on your knee joint with each step.
- Hiking poles allow you to get your entire body involved with the movement which increases the efficiency of forward motion by engaging your arms and shoulders.
- Hiking poles offer two additional points of contact when descending steep or slippery slopes, crossing streams, or walking along tight edges and logs.
- Hiking poles are handy for moving things off the trail like spider webs and thorny brush.
- Hiking poles offer all sorts of other handy uses such as building shelter if needed or probing into areas and testing the depth of a water crossing.
- Hiking poles are great for establishing the rhythm of your hike. They can be collapsed down and stored on your pack when you aren’t using them or when you are climbing and need your hands free.
REI makes a good and inexpensive set and Lekki is also an excellent choice.
I used to bring water bottles with me unless it was a longer hike, but a hydration pack is so simple and handy that I use mine for every hike now. The only thing I change depending on the activity is the size of the pack.
Personally, I have two sizes but generally only use the larger one. This has more to do with the other items I have in my pack for first aid.
My favorite pack and size for day hiking is the Camelback fourteener 24. It comes with a 3-liter reservoir and a 21-liter gear capacity. Why get a smaller reservoir? You can always just put in a liter or two if that’s all you need. I also have a lightweight Camelback that holds the same reservoir size without much capacity except for wallet and keys. It’s nice for the short canyon hikes nearby.
When choosing a pack consider the following:
- Get the correct fit on your torso, gender specific designs are best because they account for body features.
- Make sure it has a waist strap. This takes a lot of weight out of your shoulders and is essential.
- 3-liter water reservoir.
- Get a mouthpiece cover. This is sold separately but when you bite into a mouth full of dirt of sand you will regret saving a couple of bucks on it!
- Another optional accessory is an insulated tube which is kind of nice so your fist sip isn’t hot all the time.
- Pack your bag and take some time to adjust all the straps so that it sits correctly on your hips and shoulders. This step will prevent a lot of pain and chaffing especially around your arm pits.
There are other brands but I have found that the Camelback is the most versatile, easy to maintain, and its easy to get replacement parts.
International travelers should always have some form of effective filtration with them as should overnight hikers or day hiking guides. A versatile filter should eliminate heavy metals, chemicals, viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and particulates at a minimum. Most filters do not to all of these things but there are a few that do.
So rather than having one filter for fewer water concerns and different filters for really dirty water or sketchy situations where heavy metal pollution is a concern, I prefer to just invest in one that works on all of the things.
There are two kinds of filters that I recommend. Both filter all the things but they have different uses. For longer hiking trips or if you are leading a group of day hikers, I recommend the MSR Guardian. This is reasonably light weight and will filter everything in every country and situation. Great for filling hydration packs and water bottles.
The second is my personal favorite for travel. It’s the Grayl Geopress. Again, it filters all the things but it’s also your water bottle, so you only have one thing to carry.
The main consideration here is how much water you will need to process. The Geopress is adequate for most every situation. But if you are filtering for cooking in the back country and want to do more water then MSR is a great way to go.
Even if you are not planning a long hike, you should always carry extra food. You never know when a short hike will turn into something else due to injury, weather, or navigational challenges. Energy bars and a healthy trail mix, nuts, and dried fruit are great options. Its light and you can easily carry and extra day’s worth of calories just in case. For longer trips you should plan to carry even more excess food.
For day hikes where you are stopping for lunch you don’t need a shelf stable lunch but your extra supply should be. For the most part you should try to pack food that doesn’t require cooking.
Downloading the map on your phone is a great idea until your phone is dead so be prepared. Some or all of the following items should be in your pack depending on your trip. You don’t need all these things all the time, use your judgement. Items 1 and 3 are usually a must have.
- Paper map and manual compass. I carry the Suunto M-3. And know how to use it!
- Altimeter. This is handy when you are trying to pinpoint your exact location on the map.
- Phone GPS with map downloaded. Alltrails is a great app for hiking maps but be sure to get the pro version and download the map before you leave. It will still work with the GPS on your phone without cell signal in an offline mode.
- Personal locator beacon. I use the Garmin In Reach. It has a longer battery life, two-way satellite txt communication and an SOS beacon among other cool options. You can also download maps into this device. Requires a satellite subscription.
A ditty bag containing these items is in my pack each time I go out on a hike. They are essential if you get lost or if something goes wrong, but they are also handy.
- Utility knife. I carry an old school Swiss Army knife but I take a Gerber Multitool on larger trips.
- Headlamp with spare batteries. I also carry a small flashlight and usually have a light stick or two as back up for the back up. But its not necessary.
- Waterproof fire starter. I like the UST Strike Force and a few pieces of dry starter material like.
- Emergency shelter. I carry a space blanket and hiking poles and you can fashion all sorts of shelter configurations with those two things.
- First Aid Kit. There are good lightweight versions made for hiking that contain all of the basics for cuts, scrapes, and blisters. Trip leaders and guides will carry a more extensive kit and are trained to use it.
- Repair kit. It is essential to be able to repair what you are carrying. On a light hike this maybe a bit of duct tape and some safety pins for a pack repair. But if you are carrying a water filter, have the repair kit and know how to use it, same with a stove or anything else you bring.
- Rain Poncho. No matter the forecast an emergency poncho is always in my pack. You can get the clear disposable ones. Its not a bad idea to have a more durable one if you do a lot of hiking.
- Signaling devices. With modern beacons its kind of gone by the wayside but I still carry a whistle and a small mirror. Call me old fashion but if all else fails I have that.