Looking back on this past year, I can honestly say that I got to experience some of my favorite hikes and outdoor adventures of all time. The year started off with a hike in our community that reminded me of my travels to Ireland, followed by an epic trek to a local waterfall, and from there, hikes to some life-changing waterfalls, in both Yosemite National Park and Maui, continued.
Hiking has always held a special place in my heart even before I started Chasing Belle. Each time I step onto a rugged trail and look out onto the beauty of nature, whether it be a forest, mountains, ocean, or rushing waterfall, I am overcome with a profound sense of calm and abundant joy. Hiking fills my soul and, after all the amazing hikes I went on this past year, it is on the brink of bursting. With that said, here are my 10 favorite hikes of 2017:
Sendero Loop West to Ladera Ranch Trails is one of my favorites from 2017 because we hiked it on the 1st of the year and it is right in our backyard. This hike reminds me of why I love where we live and its green rolling hills made me incredibly nostalgic for the times I spent studying abroad and traveling to the Emerald Isle.
Some of the most difficult hikes I went on this year ended at a beautiful waterfall. I guess it makes sense that a destination with so much natural beauty would require a treacherous journey. My husband and I had to pull ourselves up over boulders ands balance along slippery logs on our hike to Black Star Canyon Waterfall, but it was well worth it.
I loved our hike from Borrego Canyon trail to Red Rock Canyon because once we reached the rocks, it felt like we were in the Southwest instead of South Orange County. In addition to being one of my favorite hikes from 2017, it is also rounds up my list of best family-friendly hikes in the area.
The rains we had last winter were on full display for the first quarter of 2017. One of the hikes I went on this past year that highlighted the stunning results of that weather was Serrano Ridge to West Canyon Trail Loop. I did this hike with my mom the day after celebrating her birthday at Glen Ivy Hot Springs and it was the perfect ending to a serene and fun-filled weekend.
The beautiful greenery that characterized the first few months of last year took center stage again when my husband and I hiked Live Oak Trail to Ramakrishna Monastery in O’Neill Regional Park. We didn’t know it then, but in a few months we would be vacationing in Maui. The lush landscaped I witnessed on this hike is what spurred me to plan a tropical getaway for the two of us.
One of the many reasons I love hiking in Orange County is all the trails that are both set in a wilderness area and run parallel to the Pacific Ocean. I have had the pleasure of going on so many hikes that offer views like these, however, my favorite one from 2017 was Boat Road to Bommer Ridge Trail Loop in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
The hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park is one of the most amazing hikes in the country, so I couldn’t possibly leave it off my list. It was just as grueling as it was stunning, plus we hiked it with my brother and sister during our 3-day weekend camping trip with them in the park. I will never forget our experience doing this hike together!
Every other year my husband and I go on an epic vacation. This past year we went on a trip to Maui and it was beyond our wildest dreams. The first full day of our vacation we spent snorkeling in the morning followed by a hike along Hoapoili Trail in La Perouse Bay in the afternoon. This hike was the most incredible introduction to the natural wonders that this island has to offer.
On our last full day in Maui, we drove the whole Road to Hana loop, stopping at one of the entrances to Haleaklala National Park to hike Pipiwai Trail. This hike ends at the most gorgeous waterfall I have ever laid eyes on – Waimoku Falls, but it also includes a few others along the way as well as a bamboo forest! This is my favorite hike of all time and I know it will continue to top my list for years to come.
Most of my hikes in Southern California have been limited to Orange County and Torrey Pines State Reserve was my first hike in San Diego. One of my co-workers got a group of us together to explore this beautiful state reserve. The rare Torrey Pines set agains the green, rocky cliffs and bright, blue ocean made for the perfect view and quelled my desire to run back to Maui as quickly as possible – at least for the time being 🙂
…and one more because it is just too difficult to narrow down my list to just 10…
I could not help including this one in my list of favorite hikes in 2017 for two reasons: 1) Top of the World is still one of my all time favorite hikes in Orange County and 2) it is the first hike I did after finding out that I am pregnant 🙂
I can not wait to see what hiking adventures I will go on in 2018. While the first half of the year will be occupied with the last trimester of my pregnancy, giving birth to my baby boy, and recovering, I will still have plenty of time to make this coming year a memorable one. My husband and I are so looking forward to taking our little Henry on some hikes and showing him how big and beautiful this world he was born into is.
What were your favorite hikes from 2017? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
In Love, Peace, and Hiking ~ xo