10 Mountains In California Worth Climbing

Written by Tracy Graham
Updated: October 11, 2022
© Zach Zheng/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

California is one of the most mountainous states and has dozens of different mountain ranges throughout the state. One of the most well-known mountain ranges in California is the Sierra Nevada mountains that wind through the stunning vistas of Yosemite National Park.

But there’s no shortage of other mountains for hikers to enjoy in California outside of Yosemite. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just someone that likes to get some daily exercise taking in stunning mountain views on a short hike there’s a mountain and a hike in California that’s perfect for you. 10 of the best mountains in California to hike are:

Mount Baldy  

Mount Baldy
The image of Mount Baldy’s snow-capped peak is the image that has been used to represent the majestic mountains of California for many decades.

©Jeremy Cobb/Shutterstock.com

Located in: San Gabriel Mountains

Height: 10,064 feet

Nearby City:  Rancho Cucamonga

Known For: Mount Baldy is the quintessential California mountain. When you think about a mountain in California you’re probably picturing Mount Baldy. The image of Mount Baldy’s snow-capped peak is the image that has been used to represent the majestic mountains of California for many decades. It’s one of the most recognizable images of a mountain and one of the most recognizable images of California. Once you’re at the top of Mount Baldy you can see most of Southern California on a clear day. Because Mount Baldy is a very popular destination there are four separate trails you can take to hike up to the top. All four trails are open year round.

White Mountain Peak

White Mountain Peak California
White Mountain Peak are 600 million years old.

©JonathanLamb / Creative Commons – License

Located in: Inyo-White Mountains

Height: 14,246 feet

Nearby City:  Bishop

Known For: White Mountain Peak is located squarely in some of the oldest rock known to exist. Fossils found in the rock and soil at the base of the mountain are estimated to be as old as 600 million years! That’s not a typo- some of the fossils found near White Mountain Peak are 600 million years old. White Mountain Peak is also famous for the Ancient Bristlecone Pines that grow on the mountain. They are some of the oldest living trees on Earth. You can hike right up to one of them, which is called “Methuselah”. Methuselah’s rings, which tell the age of a tree, go back more than 4,700 years. You can find Methuselah and the other Ancient Bristlecone Pines right off of White Mountain Round just off the trail. You can’t miss them.

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta, the “shining white pyramid” mountain in California

©Zach Zheng/Shutterstock.com

Located in: Great Sierra Mountains

Height: 14,000 feet

Nearby City:  Redding

Known For: Mount Shasta is often called the “shining white pyramid” because it is covered in snow all year long. Because the summit is so high the temperature never gets high enough to melt all the snow. So all year long at least the top quarter of the mountain is covered in snow. The view from the summit of Mount Shasta is stunning, but it’s a tough slog and not appropriate for inexperienced hikers. The total trail to the top of Mount Shasta is ten miles long. And that’s ten miles of making your way up snow covered rock. It’s not easy or for the faint of heart. But if you do manage to make it up there you will be rewarded with some of the most stunning views you will ever see.

San Jacinto Peak

San Jacinto Peak California
Hikers should also be aware that San Jacinto Peak has no water sources until you hit an elevation of 8,500 feet so bring plenty of water.

©iStock.com/Debora Vandor

Located in: San Jacinto Mountains, Mount San Jacinto State Park

Height: 10,000 feet

Nearby City:  Riverside

Known For: San Jacinto Peak is one of the most family friendly mountains to hike in California. There are several very easy trails that families can hike together. One of the options for getting most of the way up is to take the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway from Palm Station to Valley Station. The tram will deposit hikers at an elevation of about 8,000 feet and the summit is an easy hike from Valley Station. More adventurous and experienced hikers who want a challenge should try the Cactus to Clouds Trail. The Cactus To Clouds Trail starts at the very bottom of San Jacinto on the desert floor and climbs all the way to the San Jacinto Peak.

Hikers should also be aware that San Jacinto Peak has no water sources until you hit an elevation of 8,500 feet so bring plenty of water. Temperatures in this part of California can climb to over 100 during the summer and even on the mountain you will get warm. If you’re hiking with children bring plenty of water and sports drinks to keep them hydrated.

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills is a popular filming location for TV and films. Many sport climbers come to Alabama Hills to challenge themselves on the rough terrain.

©iStock.com/Chris Pudlo

Located in: Between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Inyo-White Mountains

Height: 400 feet

Nearby City:  Lone Pine

Known For: The Alabama Hills may not technically be mountains, but these rugged hills are instantly recognizable. They sit at the entrance to Mt. Whitney and the jagged terrain of these hills makes a very distinctive silhouette. Alabama Hills is a popular filming location for TV and films. Many sport climbers come to Alabama Hills to challenge themselves on the rough terrain. The ground is so tough it’s really only recommended for intermediate or advanced sport climbers and advanced hikers. This isn’t a family friendly day trip type of hike. There’s also no water source and no shade so anyone coming to take on the challenge of Alabama Hills needs to be sure that they have plenty of water with them and appropriate clothing for the weather.

Eagle Peak

Eagle Peak California
Eagle Peak may not be one of the tallest mountain peaks in California but it does provide a very unique view from the top.

©iStock.com/yhelfman

Located in: Mount Diablo State Park

Height: 2,369 feet

Nearby City:  San Luis Obispo

Known For: Eagle Peak may not be one of the tallest mountain peaks in California but it does provide a very unique view from the top. Once you reach the top of the peak you can look down on a seemingly endless array of green forested peaks that look almost Alpine in their gorgeous greenery. This vista of green hills is also an extremely easy hike which makes it accessible for even inexperienced hikers.

Hikers who are looking for a pretty day hike or hikers who don’t want a very challenging hike can take the easy 7 mile Eagle Peak loop trail. You’ll start the Eagle Park trail in Mount Diablo State Park at the Mitchell Canyon Trailhead and just follow the signs for Eagle Peak. One thing to keep in mind is that even though the hike is easy the area can get warm, especially in summer, and there’s no easily available water source. Make sure that you pack some snacks and lots of water to take with you.  

Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney Californian
Mount Whitney grows an average of two inches per year. If this continues there’s no telling how tall this mountain might eventually get.

©iStock.com/dpenn

Located in: Sierra Nevada Mountains

Height: 14,505 feet

Nearby City:  Bishop, CA or Las Vegas, NV

Known For: Mount Whitney has several things that make it unique. One of the unique features of this mountain is that it gets bigger every year. Currently Mount Whitney grows an average of two inches per year. If this continues there’s no telling how tall this mountain might eventually get.

Another thing that makes Mount Whitney unique is the difficulty of climbing it. Mount Whitney is breathtaking to look at from a distance. If you try to climb it you’ll find that the mountain face is made of sheer slippery rock and snow. The very top of the peak is at or below freezing temperatures all the time, even in the summer. Some people train for years to make sure they are in peak physical condition just to try to climb this mountain. And even then they don’t always make it. More often than not hikers have to turn back before reaching the peak.

Mount Diller

Mount Diller California
Mount Diller is a very popular skiing and hiking destination today.

©iStock.com/Daniel Flesher

Located in: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Height: 9,087 feet

Nearby City:  Redding

Known For: Mount Diller has a very unique claim to fame. It is the last remaining piece of an ancient volcano. The volcano, Mt. Tehama, peaked around 300,000 years ago. During the Ice Age the movement of the glaciers shaved off pieces of the volcano making it smaller and smaller until only the section that is now Mount Diller remained.

Mount Diller is a very popular skiing and hiking destination today. It’s an easy hike for most people because it’s just four miles from the base of the mountain to the top. However, it is snowy and the terrain is very rocky so it’s probably not an appropriate hike for kids or families.

The Santa Monica Mountains

Santa monica mountains canyon
If you’re going to hike the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains you should know that you can hike, bike, ride a horse, climb rocks, do some trail running, or watch birds.

©The original uploader was Geographer at English Wikipedia / Creative Commons – License

Located in: Temescal Canyon Loop

Height: 3,111 feet

Nearby City:  Los Angeles

Known For: The Santa Monica Mountains are known for being a fantastic place to day hike and see a huge range of wildlife. This mountain range is not that long but it has more 500 different easy to intermediate trails that are easy to access. One of the most famous trails is the Backbone Trail. The Backbone Trail zig zags the entire length of the mountain range. It’s a certified National trail and one of the most popular hiking trails in the area. When you’re hiking the Backbone Trail, you will experience one of only five protected Mediterranean coastal habitats. You will see a wide range of wildlife including bobcats. And it’s just 20 miles from downtown LA!

If you’re going to hike the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains you should know that you can hike, bike, ride a horse, climb rocks, do some trail running, or watch birds. And you can bring your dog as long it’s properly leashed. Bring plenty of water and sun protection though because it can get warm.

San Gorgonio

San Gorgonio California
San Gorgonio is the tallest point in Southern California, although not the tallest peak in all of California.

©iStock.com/Richard Par

Located in: San Bernadino Mountains

Height: 11,500 feet

Nearby City:  South Cucamonga

Known For: San Gorgonio is the tallest point in Southern California, although not the tallest peak in all of California. Because of the way the mountain is shaped and the snow pack at the top it’s often called “Old Greyback”. There are several easy trails to the summit that are popular with hikers. The Fish Creek Trail is the least crowded trail and runs just over 9 miles.

If you’re looking for a longer hike try the South Fork Trail which is more than 10 miles. And if you want to get in some mountain views and a good short workout try the Vivian Creek Trail. The Vivian Creek Trail is only about 7.5 miles long. However, over the course of those miles there’s an elevation increase of almost 5,500 feet so it’s a steep hike up.  The Vivian Creek Trail is a great workout for leg day! It’s also the most popular trail so be prepared to have to navigate the trail with lots of company.

10 Tallest Mountains In X State or 10 Trails in X State

  • Mount Whitney
  • Mount Williamson
  • White Mountain Peak
  • Mount Shasta
  • North Palisade
  • Mount Sill
  • Mount Russell
  • Split Mountain
  • Mount Langley
  • Mount Tyndall

Highest Point In California

Mount Whitney is California’s highest point with an elevation of 14, 497 feet.

Up Next


The Featured Image

Mt. Shasta California
Yes, there will likely be volcanic activity in California in the next 30 years. But we don’t need to be afraid. It's just as likely not to occur
© Zach Zheng/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the most well-known mountain range in California?

California is one of the most mountainous states and has dozens of different mountain ranges throughout the state. One of the most well-known mountain ranges in California is the Sierra Nevada mountains that wind through the stunning vistas of Yosemite National Park.

Why is Mount Diller so unique?

Mount Diller has a very unique claim to fame. It is the last remaining piece of an ancient volcano. The volcano, Mt. Tehama, peaked around 300,000 years ago. During the Ice Age the movement of the glaciers shaved off pieces of the volcano making it smaller and smaller until only the section that is now Mount Diller remained.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.