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Favorite Hikes in Upper California
Beaches, Hollywood, sun and fun, this is the image most people have of California. The far north of California, however, offers hikes that rival anything else the state has to offer.

Unlike the crowded coastline, the upper reaches of California presents a more relaxed, back to nature feel. Frankly, most people living in the south of the state don't know what they are missing. The beauty of old growth forests, rivers such as the Russian and miles of woodlands are something to behold and hiking is the best way to see it.

I usually save the best for last, but the Caves at Lava Beds National Monument simply are too good. Ironically, the caves are not caves. Instead, they are huge lava tubes created when lava flowed over this area in the very north of California. This place is so amazing, words seem like a cheap substitute for actually going. The lava tubes are large and you are going to walk through them. The best and most jaw dropping is the Catacombs Cave. The tube is about 7,000 feet long and just awe inspiring. You should also have a go at the Hopkins Chocolate and Blue Grotto caves. Bring a sweater and get ready for a memorable experience.

Moving to the coast, we come to the Redwood National Park. Again, a personal favorite. There are numerous excellent hiking areas, but we are here to see big trees. The aptly named Tall Trees Grove is the place we want. In classic hiking terms, the route is only 3 miles roundtrip and should take an hour and a half. Hah! This is the place of many of the tallest trees in the world, many topping out over 300 feet. The trees are so large, the base can be as much as fifteen feet across. That is probably wider then the room you are sitting in now. With such heights, you are going to be looking up a lot and walking very slowly. Count on turning this hike into a three hour event at a minimum.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is located to the east of Redding. As you might have guessed from the name, the park has a history of volcanic activity, eruptions and lots of geothermal activity. Any of the hiking routes in the park will pass muster, but I am a sucker for volcanoes. Prior to Mount St. Helens hogging the limelight, Lassen Peak was the last volcano to erupt in the United States. Okay, it was 1914, but it still counts. More importantly, you can hike it! It is 5 miles roundtrip and takes two or three hours. Unfortunately, you have to hit it between July and September because it is closed the rest of the time. As an aside, you can also try the Bumpass Hell hike. I know nothing about it, but the name makes it worth a go if nothing else.

Hiking in the forgotten north of California offers you, me and everyone an opportunity to see part of the state that most people don't realize exists. Whether you want to hike down a lava shoot, stare up at giant trees or climb a volcano, you can do it all here.
About the Author
Rick Chapo is with Nomad Journals - makers of travel journals to preserve your travel experiences.
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