Small Scenic Hikes for Families In Southern California

There are plenty of beautiful hikes to explore in Southern California, but sometimes you don’t want a strenuous hike with lots of elevation change.

Also, if you have a newborn or a young child and aren’t sure if they are up for a difficult hike just yet, there are plenty of easy hikes to take in the area.

These Southern California Scenic Hikes below are perfect for spending time with your family and friends.

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Palos Verdes

Palos Verdes is a great city for going on easy hikes with you and your family. There are a few different hikes you can do, such as the following:

Abalone Cove Shoreline Trail

The Abalone Cove is a great shoreline Trail for all levels of hikers. The Cove is a little over a mile long and takes you along the coast with beautiful views of the ocean and Catalina Island. This hike should roughly take half an hour to complete. This is an extremely easy hike with a couple of inclines at times, but it’s mostly flat.

What we like about this trail is that there are also picnic tables and benches, so you can take a break and enjoy the views.

One thing to keep in mind about the Abalone Cove Shoreline trail is that low tide is around 3 PM just in case you want to explore the tide pool area.

Terranea Discovery Trail

The Terranea Discovery Trail is a 2-mile hike, that’s pretty easy. Usually, this route would take about 50 minutes to an hour. Asides from seeing the Terranea resort, you also get to see the rocky coastline and the ocean.

There is an area where you can use a restroom as well. If you or your little one(s) needs to go, you have that option.

Point Vicente Lighthouse

The Point Vicente Lighthouse is also an easy route that’s great for family hikes. It’s a little over a mile long, and it’s an easy hike that most people can do without any trouble. You get to see the lighthouse up close, as well as the beautiful coastline.

Not only can you hike with your family, but you can also bring your dog. Dogs must be on a leash though.

One drawback about this hike is that it can be crowded on the weekends. If you prefer to be distant from other people and have a more peaceful hike, then you may want to plan ahead. When I mean planning ahead, I’m talking about figuring out the best time, and also doing research on what other people are saying about crowdedness on the weekends.

Orange County

The city of Orange County is also another great place to do family hikes. Some of the hikes below are great for beginners and children.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Trail

If you want to go a little longer compared to the hikes in Palos Verdes, this one is about 3 miles. It’s a loop trail, so it’s easy to follow. This hike will take you about an hour and a half. For the most part, this place is relatively flat, with a few inclines.

This trail is nice as there’s a bird-watching hotspot, and it’s good for kids as there are a lot of areas where they can explore. The downside of this trail, however, is that there’s a lot of road noise. You’re pretty much close to the Pacific Coast Highway so you’ll see a lot of cars and people.

Long Beach

Good old Long Beach. This city is usually flat minus the city within a city, known as Signal Hill.

Signal Hill Trail

Signal Hill is probably the only trail in Long Beach with an incline. There are other places like the El Dorado Nature Center but those trails are mostly flat. The beauty of Signal Hill is that you get a view of Los Angeles and the ocean.

The Signal Hill trail is a pretty easy hike, but it can be steep in some areas. Depending on your route, you can go as long as you want in terms of miles. Keep in mind that this place is usually crowded, and you’re also in a neighborhood, so be mindful of people and their property.

Los Angeles County

There are a ton of hiking spots in Los Angeles County, but the main one that everyone goes to is Griffith Park.

Griffith Park

Ah, the infamous Griffith Park Observatory. You can make this hike easy or hard depending on your route. This place is huge and has a lot of different trails. Out of all the popular hikes out there, I would say Griffith Park wins by a landslide. This place is overly packed, whether it’s the weekday or the weekend!

You can park at the observatory and walk, or drive to different areas of Griffith Park. Chances are, you won’t find parking at the observatory and you’d have to park half a mile away.

San Diego

We would add Potato Chip Rock, but that one is a little long. It might make your little one (assuming you brought him or her to the hike) irritated. I’d like to also confirm that the hike itself isn’t what’s long. It’s waiting in damn line to take a photo of the potato chip rock!

With that said, we’ll talk about one of the other popular and easy hikes in San Diego.

Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop

Torrey Pines Beach is around 2 miles that take about an hour and 10 minutes to complete. There are multiple routes to get on the trail, and one way we did it was by walking down the beach first. However, be sure it’s during low tide, so you’re not stranded on the other side.

This hike is easy with a few inclines, and it’s great for beginners or children. There are multiple trails that you can take which makes this hike diverse. You can also see the ocean and coastline the whole time. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be on a leash.

Another thing about Torrey Pines Beach Trail, which is similar to Griffith Park, is that this place is extremely popular. What does that mean? It’s super crowded and therefore, this beach trail can easily turn into a parking lot. If you’re looking for a peaceful hike, I suggest going super early.

If you want to know about our own experience, then check out our article when we hiked Torrey Pines with Baby Quinn!

Use the Alltrails App

The Alltrails app can help you find great hikes all over California. You can filter by difficulty, length, and dogs allowed. This is a great app to have if you’re looking for new trails to do.

Instead of the old-school way of asking people, or checking on Instagram (ha can’t believe I’m saying that’s old) – use the app. The great thing about the Alltrails app is that it also shows you the actual map of the hike.

It’s also great to see other people’s reviews on a hike. There might be additional insights that might be helpful for you.

What’s Considered a Small Hike?

A small hike is defined by the individual. Some people may consider a hike of two miles to be small, while others may consider anything less than 10 miles to be a small hike. It really depends on the person’s level of hiking experience and what they’re looking for in a hike.

But if there were to be an “average” consensus on a small hike, I would say it’s roughly around 3 miles.

Overall Thoughts

There are numerous hikes that are easy in Southern California. It just depends on what you’re looking for with your family. If you’re looking for a beach hike, Torrey Pines is great. If you want to see an amazing view of Los Angeles, Signal Hill is the place to go. If you want to explore Griffith Park, there are multiple trails for that. And lastly, if you just want a general hike that’s not too hard or long, all the spots in Palos Verdes will do.

I'm a professional marketer from Los Angeles, California. More importantly, I'm a brand new father who can't wait to take my beloved partner and daughter on all sorts of hiking trails. My mantra is that work will always be there, but watching your little one grow happens once in a lifetime.

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