In honor of the upcoming summer solstice, here are ten hikes that provide great sunset views on June 21st (or any other night of the year, for that matter.) Whether you’re looking for a short little excursion for after work or a nice way to wrap up a first date, there are plenty of great places to watch the sunset that are not all that far from the edge of L.A. and Orange County.
SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS
Sandstone Peak – the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains also has the best sunset views.
Summit Valley – for those who don’t have the time to make it out to remote Sandstone Peak, sunsets in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains aren’t too bad either. Located just off of Topanga Blvd., the short Summit Valley trail provides some nice views.
SAN FERNANDO VALLEY
Chumash Trail – just northwest of the San Fernando Valley, the Chumash trail provides a challenging hike. Scenic rewards along the way include interesting geology, panoramic ocean and mountain views, and on the way back, great sunsets. The trail is virtually shadeless, so plan accordingly.
Wilacre Park – conveniently located in the hills above Studio City, this short loop provides nice views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the San Fernando Valley.
SOUTH BAY/NORTH ORANGE COUNTY
Point Vicente County Park – although this level, largely paved walk, might not qualify as a “hike” to some purists, the ocean views are great. Expect to see Santa Barbara Island on clear days.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve – this coastal wetland, just across from Huntington State Beach, isn’t that much of a hike, per se, but it’s a great place to see marine wildlife, including egrets, hawks and gulls. Clear day views include the San Gabriels and Santa Anas, and the sunsets are to be reckoned with, with the light reflecting both on the water of the marshes and the ocean nearby.
SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY
Crystal Cove State Park (Slow’n’easy trail) – access Crystal Cove State Park from its lesser known (and free) north entrance, and enjoy this loop hike which takes in good ocean views and visits secluded El Moro Canyon. On the way back, expect great sunset views along the Bommer Ridge Trail if you time it right.
Aliso Peak – only 623 tall, Aliso Peak’s close proximity to the shore makes for some great views any time of day, especially at sunset. The popular approach from Seaview Park actually starts above the peak; it can also be reached from below, via the Valdido Trail.
Two Trees Trail – just northeast of downtown Riverside, this trail visits a secluded canyon, takes in nice views of the San Gabriel Mountains and showcases sone interesting sandstone geology. On the way back, sunset views over Riverside and Orange County are great.
Black Mountain – to be sure, this long, 8-mile round trip hike isn’t exactly a quick little after-work getaway to watch the sunset, or first date material, but it’s a hike that no trail buff should miss. After the 360-degree view from the top, the great sunsets on the western-oriented descent are only the icing on the cake.
Even if you don’t make it out for sunset on the longest day of the year, these ten trails are great any time of day and in any season.
Check out more trails in your area: icedjamb.com’s Trail Guide