Sometimes the best views are ones that come at the end of a hike. Here are the best views that are visible only when journeying off-the-beaten path.
1) Devil’s Punchbowl
Photo credit: Matthew Dillon
As a result of the Earth’s movement that started thousands of years ago, there’s an incredible jagged gem of nature known as Devil’s Punchbowl. The rocky landscape features spiked slabs that jut from the earth – a startling juxtaposition to the serene and green landscape surrounding it. These desert rocks in the little down of Pearblossum are great for climbing or just viewing.
Coordinates: Latitude: 34.414584 | Longitude: -117.859712
2) Mt. Baldy
Photo credit: Keith Evans
For a near spiritual experience, there’s the summit of Mt. Baldy. The breathtaking view of Southern California is comprised of “purple mountains majesty” that seem to appear magically above swirling clouds. There are two ways to experience the beauty of Mt. Baldy. First is a tram to the top, followed by an eight mile walk round trip to the summit, or the Ski Hut Trail, which rises 4000 feet over the course of eight miles.
Coordinates: Latitude: 34.263864 | Longitude: -117.633187
3) The Slot in Anza Borrego
Photo credit: Threedorks
This hike is unique for its small spaces that don’t leave a lot of room for veering off course. The slot hike in Anza Borrego State Park drops into a slot canyon for about a mile. There are points that are so narrow in the slot canyon one may have to go sideways to get through, and then points that end 75 ft. below the canyon wall. At the very end, there’s a small arch that connects the two sides.
Coordinates: Latitude: 33.18192 | Longitude: -116.214044
4) Kelso Dunes
Photo credit: Joe Stylos
Although the hike is brutal due to the shifting, hot sands, one of the most rewarding views you can find in Southern California is at the Kelso Dunes. As one of the largest sand dunes in California, the Kelso Dunes of the Mojave National Preserve offers an incredible elevated view and a massive sense of accomplishment.
Coordinates: Latitude: 35.429309 | Longitude: -115.983986
5) Cowles Mountain
Photo Credit: John Hadaway
This hike up Cowles Mountain reveals an unparalleled view of downtown San Diego, Coronado and even Tijuana, Mexico on a clear day. The top of Cowles Mountain reveals a gorgeous, sweeping view from the tallest point in San Diego.
Coordinates: Latitude: 32.804618 | Longitude: -117.036994
To discover more off-the-beaten-path views of Southern California and Baja Mexico, check out this video from Pacifico.