It's that time of year again. Just when you've finally burned off the last of your holiday-related calories, the calendar throws you another curve: the Super Bowl. Even if you don't give a you know what about football, there's a pretty good chance that you might be attending a Super Bowl party this year. After all, you don't need to care about the game to enjoy the camaraderie of friends, the commercials, and--well, the food and drink. And by food and drink, we're not talking about wheat grass shakes or kefir.
However, Southern California residents are fortunate to live in a climate that supports year-round outdoor activity, making it easy to atone for any caloric sins committed on Super Sunday. Here are ten challenging hiking trails sprinkled throughout the Southland, from Thousand Oaks to north San Diego County and almost everywhere in between. All have free parking; none require any special permits. Some might make a fun outing on the Saturday before the game; others might be quick and convenient enough to squeeze in on Sunday before kickoff. Here they are, in order of difficulty.
#10) GRAND AVENUE TRAIL. This hike between two local parks in Chino Hills features plenty of up and down to burn calories, taking in nice views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Inland Empire along the way.
#9) HEARTBREAK HILL. This short but very steep trail near Agoura Hills earns its name with its unforgiving grade – climbing 500 feet in the first half-mile alone. Depending on just how many calories you need to burn, you can extend your hike south on Heartbreak Ridge into Malibu Creek State Park’s Phantom Trail.
#8) COLINAS BLUFF TRAIL. With a lot of ups and downs, this trail in south Orange County, paralleling I-5, will certainly make you break a sweat. Nice views of the Santa Ana and San Gabriel Mountains are among the highlights.
#7) GOLDEN VALLEY RANCH. This hike up and down a ridgeline in the Santa Clarita Valley features great views of both the western San Gabriels and the Antelope Valley.
#6) SECRET TRAIL TO CALABASAS PEAK. Santa Monica Mountains hikers know Calabasas Peak for its steep climb, panoramic views and interesting geological formations. However, while most hikers opt for the approach from Stunt Road, the lightly used Secret Trail is worth visiting as well.
#5) MONSERATE MOUNTAIN. Conveniently located to Riverside County and north San Diego County, this little-known summit, located a stone’s throw from I-15, offers a challenging workout with some nice views. If you're planning on watching the Super Bowl at Pala Casino, consider dropping by here on the way.
#4) HULDA CROOKS PARK. Named for Hulda “Grandma Whitney” Crooks – a woman who earned her nickname by climbing Mt. Whitney 23 times – this park features an intricate network of trails climbing up ridges, in and out of canyons and down sharp knife-edges, all the while taking in great views of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino ranges.
#3) LA CANADA TEEPEE. The trail to the teepee located high in the foothills above La Canada is a study in calf-burning. Climbing over 1,300 feet in about a mile and a half, this trail means business. The payoff is the wide-ranging views of the San Gabriel Valley, downtown L.A. and more.
#2) HIDDEN POND LOOP. There’s not much of a pond to see here, but this 9-mile double loop in Point Mugu State Park provides a great workout in the scenic western tip of the Santa Monica Mountains.
#1) MT. LUKENS. You can’t really call yourself an L.A. hiker unless you’ve been to the highest point in the city, can you? There are several routes to the 5,074-foot summit that sits just within the boundary of Los Angles. This loop route, from Glendale’s Deukmejian Wilderness Park, is as scenic as it is challenging, with great views of the entire L.A. basin on the way up and of the Angeles National Forest from the top.
So there you have it - ten great ways to burn off Super Bowl Party calories. If you were REALLY bad, you can visit one of the hikes suggested from last year (see below). These hikes might not get you ready for training camp with the 'Niners or Ravens, but they're all worthwhile additions to your weekend plans.