California, USA



I am learning that California is pleasantly diverse and geologically quite remarkable.  From volcanoes - both active and ancient, to earthquake geology to fossil beds  to deep blue glacial lakes, scenic rugged coastlines, natural rock columns and towering granite domes and walls, California is one place I can spend many years exploring and still not be completely satisfied that I have seen it all.  Here are our explorations thus far....


Northern California

Bowling Ball Beach, CA

Mendocino County Coastline - Glass Beach, Point Arena-Stornetta (Sinkholes) and Bowling Ball Beach - Walk the coastline to discover giant bowling ball sized rocks, glass pebbles, sinkholes, tree trunk rock, sea caves and sea arches

Subway Cave, Lassen NP

Lassen National Park - Cinder Cone, Butte Lake, Fantastic Lava Beds and Subway Lava Tube - a walk by a 20 ft high wall of cooled lava to an almost 800 ft high cinder cone overlooking 2 blue lakes and a looming Lassen Peak

Devil's Kitchen Hot Springs, Lassen NP


Lassen National Park - Devil's Kitchen and Boiling Springs Lake -Walk through a meadow to get amongst the colorful and bubbling springs of Lassen, an indication that this volcano is very much active.  Stop by Boiling Springs Lake on the way back, a large simmering lake fed by several hot springs underneath the lake.


McArthur-Burney Falls SP


McCarthur Burney Falls State Park and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute) - A wide waterfall, a surprise after a short walk.  Note the size of the visitors on the bottom left of the picture.  SETI is a radio telescope array between Burney Falls and Lassen NP.  Radio telescopes here are pointed to the stars to listen for extra-terrestrial life.



San Francisco Bay Area

Whale watching at Pacifica Municipal Pier

Pacifica Municipal Pier - whale watching and crabbing.  We had more success with one than the other.

Painting in an Egyptian tomb (replica)

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum - a good introduction to the ancient Egyptian culture, featuring mummies, replicas of the Rosetta Stone and a tomb.  

 Mini Steam Train at Tilden Regional Park, Orinda, Califonia


Tilden Regional Park, Orinda, Califonia - Steam trains, hikes with views of East Bay and the Bay, what else can you ask for?

Remillard Park, part of Berkeley Rocks Urban Hike, California

Berkeley Rocks Urban Hike, Berkeley California - Explore one of Berkeley's many ancient rocks on this short hike of 5 city parks, 3 cozy lanes and some great views of the San Francisco Bay.

Dipsea Trail on Mt. Tamalpais,

Mt Tamalpais- Dipsea-Matt Davis Loop Trail- Hike under tall groves of mossy trees alongside criss-crossing streams that form cascading waterfalls, with peek-a-boo views of the ocean and Bolinas Laggon

Alamere Falls, Point Reyes, National Seashore, CA

Point Reyes National Seashore - Alamere Falls, near Bolinas - Walk along a trail with ocean views, under groves of different types of trees, pass two lakes that neighbor the ocean, to a 4-tier waterfall that falls directly onto the beach of the Pacific Ocean.

Falls Trail, Mount Diablo, California

Mount Diablo State Park - Falls Trail, Clayton - Cross over several streams that cascade downhill forming beautiful mini waterfalls, after walking across rolling green hills

Rock City, Mt Diablo State Park, CA

Mount Diablo State Park - Rock City, Danville - Walk amongst and explore sculpted sandstone rocks and climb the cables of Mini Half Dome

Chabot Observatory, Oakland, CA

Chabot Space & Science Center and Roberts Regional Recreational Area - From a model of Mars with the largest known volcano and canyon in the solar system, to a Live feed from the International Space Station, to models of mankind's many spacecrafts, Chabot will give you a better understanding of the Space around us as we know it. 

Livermore Vineyards

A Bike Ride through the Vineyards of Livermore - Ride on a trail beside and between grape vines in Livermore

Coyote Hills Regional Park - Salt Ponds, Fremont

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont - Walk through the marshlands that was once home to the Ohlone People in ancient times.  Walk towards the shores for an overview of the salt ponds down below.  In the spring, the salt ponds were a beautiful bright yellow, owing to the low saline conditions. Salt pond colors vary depending on salinity, from yellow to red and everything in between.  These salt ponds are in a state of transition right now, part of a 30 year conversion to its native state of tidal wetlands. See them while you can!

Uvas Canyon, Morgan Hill

Uvas Canyon County Park, Morgan Hill - Walk to several waterfalls on a trail that is canopied and surrounded by mossy trees and rocks, a rarity in these parts.  Hop on foot bridges over creeks downstream from waterfalls. Great for a hot day. 

Sibley Volcanic Regional Park

Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Oakland - Walk in an open space with views of grazing cows in search of several rock labyrinths.  Discover your way out of the labyrinths, then stand on a hill to find Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and Mount Diablo in the opposite direction.  Take the self guided trail to discover the remnants of an ancient volcano.

Huckleberry Botanical Preserve, Oakland

Huckleberry Botanical Preserve, Oakland - Walk under a canopy of mossy trees, and return in the footsteps of the first Spanish colonists to San Francisco (via a connection to the Anza National Historic Trail).

View of SF Bay from Claremont Preserve

Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, Berkeley - For a 180 degree view of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.  A strenous but short hike for incredible views.




Giant Tree

Sequoia National Park - Walk amongst giant Sequoia trees, subalpine lakes and waterfalls cascading over marble-like rocks 

Crowley Columns

Mammoth Lakes, Long Valley Caldera, Inyo Craters- Considered a supervolcano, Long Valley Caldera is another one of California's active volcanic sites.  From hot springs, to hazardous gas kill zones, to circular columns produced by snow melting through hot volcanic ashes, this area is a treasure trove of many different features of a volcanic landscape

Devil's Postpile National Monument, California

Devil's Postpile National Monument - Massive natural hexagonal columns formed from an ancient cooling lava lake.  Not too far, find Rainbow Falls intent on eroding away these basalt columns.

Mono Lake


Mono Lake State Natural Preserve - More natural columns to view, this time formed from the ground up, as calcium carbonate deposited as water evaporated.  Towers grow up to 30 feet.  A short walk leads you into the heart of these fragile towers.

Panum Crater- Closeby to Mono Lake, Panum Crater is an obsidian filled crater whose rim you can walk on for a view of Mono Lake and the crater dome formed by its active center.

Upper Sardine Lake

Sierra Buttes, Lakes Basin - Hike to Sierra Butte Fire Lookout for a bird's eyeview of Upper and Lower Sardine Lakes. Then hike around these lakes and enjoy the view of the buttes towering over.

Third set of tiers of Chilhualna Falls, Yosemite NP

Yosemite National Park - Chilhualna Falls Trail - a gradual ascent took us to 3 tiers of these falls, the last set of tiers being the tallest.  The trail starts out at a misty and tall waterfall that crashes down from as high as the eye can see. An amazing hike in late spring after a wet winter.

Panoramic Trail - Views of Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite NP

Yosemite National Park - Glacier Pt-Illilouette Falls-Nevada Falls via Panoramic Trail - Take in views of Half Dome, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls all in one eye-ful, then watch as the scenery slowly change before your eyes to reveal Yosemite Falls and an upclose and personal view of Liberty Cap and Nevada Falls.

Nevada Falls from JMT


Yosemite National Park - Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail and John Muir Trail - Enjoy views of two amazing waterfalls making their way amongst granite walls and domes.  Get soaked along the Mist Trail.  Awe at the views of spectacular granite domes as you make your way down on the John Muir Trail.

Tenaya Lake

Yosemite National Park - Tenaya Lake - Enjoy white sand beaches along the shore of a deep blue lake formed by glacial action many years ago surrounded by granite mountains.

View from Dewey Point, Yosemite NP, CA

Yosemite National Park - Dewey Point - Walk under towering mossy trees to a view over a granite canyon dotted with granite domes and peaks that go on for miles

Desolation Wilderness, Lake Tahoe


Lake Tahoe - Desolation Wilderness, near South Lake Tahoe - Enjoy a bird's eyeview of 5 blue lakes and bays that were formed by glacial action many years ago.  Be surrounded by granite walls, summits and ridges as you walk on a granite trail towards that epic view.

Tahoe Eastern Shores


Lake Tahoe - Chimney Beach and the Eastern Shores -  Pretend you're in the Caribbean as you look on the clear blue waters of Lake Tahoe from its Eastern (clothing-optional) shores.  Find yourself a quiet cove to take a dip in the cold blue waters.  Warm back up on the granite boulders that surround you.

Mt Rose


Mount Rose - Hike to the top of the second highest peak in Lake Tahoe for a view of the Lake, waterfalls, seasonal wildflowers and snow.  Though not technically in California, it is just a stone's throw away and a hike worthy to be on this list.



Central California

Garrapata State Park, Big Sur - For an amazing view of wildflowers in the spring, rugged coastline and fresh ocean air, this is a perfect place to spend the day exploring.

Berry Creek Falls, Big Basin State Park, CA

Berry Creek Falls, Big Basin State ParkHike or bike to this waterfalls under a canopy of redwoods to view this cascading falls.

Bear Gulch Caves, Pinnacles NP

Pinnacles National Park - Bear Gulch Cave Trail-to-Rim Trail - Walk amongst columns of giant red and green (mossed-covered) rocks to squeeze under the roof of a talus cave alongside a waterfall to arrive at a reflective Reservoir.

Pinnacles NP

Pinnacles National Park - High Peaks Trail to Tunnel Trail - Walk amongst giant needle-like rocks that were part of an ancient volcano.  The other part of this ancient volcano is 200 miles south, being pulled apart by tectonic forces caused by the movement of the Pacific and North American Plates.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic ParkExplore the history of California's Gold Rush here in the town of Coloma. Go panning for gold and spend an afternoon learning about the life and times of California's original 49'ers.

Phantom Falls, Oroville, California

Phantom Falls, Oroville - Walk on an ancient lava flow forming a table-top like formation to a 160 foot tall waterfall flowing over the cliffs made of columnar basalt walls.  Scramble down a ravine to the base of these Falls to explore the cave behind the Falls.

Point Lobos State Reserve, California

Point Lobos State Reserve, Carmel-by-the-Sea - Beautiful views of the ocean as it crashes into giant rugged coastal rocks, amazing blue green coves with sea tunnels and sea caves, island inhabited by birds, harbor seals and more.....
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, CA


Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur - Take a short trail to view one of two waterfalls in California that falls directly onto an ocean beach.  Blue waters surrounded by rugged rocks makes it a view to remember.



Southern California

Rings Trail, Mojave National Preserve

Rings Trail, Mojave National Preserve  - A short trail through hole-y rocks  via two sets of rings that will lift you further into Banshee Canyon

Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles - Walk amongst tall spires formed from tufa and coral , 500 in quantity, resting on the bottom of an ancient dry saltwater Searle lake bed


Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, CA

Death Valley National Park - Badlands Loop Hike at Zabriskie Point  - Enjoy a hike along a ridge and a gulch to be surrounded by amazing sculptured mudstone for as far as the eye can see.

Anza-Borrego State Park, CA

Anza-Borrego State Park, Borrego-Springs - Walk under an oasis of towering native palm trees that grow in the middle of a cacti-filled desert.  These palm trees grow along fault lines.  Look for big-horn sheep on your hike.  Don't miss a visit to the Visitor Center to see a giant tortoise shell.

Vasquez Rocks, Southern CA

Vasquez Rocks, Agua Dulce - Walk amongst gigantic rocks slanted at angles of almost 50 degrees, caused by the earthquake movements over the last 20 million years.  See if you can find the movie set of Star Trek amongst these rocks. Close to Los Angeles.
Devil's Punchbowl, Southern California Devil's Punchbowl, Pearblossom - A short trail to giant scallop-edged rock wonderland, also slanted by fault activity, not too far from Los Angeles.


Warning:  All listed adventures come with inherent risks. The information provided is based on personal experience which may or may not be typical. The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, preparation and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. As such, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  We will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal preparation and judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and always be safe.
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