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Conquer California: 25 Adrenaline-Pumping Adventures for Your Bucket List

From waves to mountains to skate parks, the Golden State holds about any outdoor challenge you could ask for. Here are 25 of the best.
Kyle Alexander

The Golden State holds just about any challenge you could ask for—mountains to climb, waves to surf, coastal roads to ride. Here are 25 of the best adrenaline-pumping, eye-popping sweat fests to add to any fitness bucket list, all shot on an LG G4 smartphone with a 16-megapixel camera.

Surf Malibu: Malibu’s Surfrider Beach has been hopping with longboarders since the Beach Boys ruled the charts and Gidget was a superstar. But the place isn’t all Hollywood hype: The famously long and friendly “right” (surfer slang for a wave that, well, goes right) is one of the most fun waves in the world—and great for beginners, since it’s often a notch smaller than surrounding breaks.

 > DO IT: Rent a board from the Malibu Surf Shack ( on Pacific Coast Highway, and join the lineup closest to the Malibu pier for a mellower swell.

Fit Travel: 8 Coolest Offbeat Places to Paddle Surf in America >>>

Tackle the Santa Monica Stairs: You gotta love a lung-busting cardio blast that ends with a plunge in the ocean. A favorite among L.A. locals, the tree-lined network of stairs in Santa Monica Canyon encompasses nearly 300 total steps, for an almost 250-foot vertical climb. Finish up with Ocean Way, which leads right to the beach.

 > DO IT: A brutal 10-minute loop takes you up the steep 189 concrete stairs from Entrada to Adelaide, then down the more gradual stairs as you return to Entrada.

Sprint to the Top of Mount Baldy: Every Labor Day, about 650 Angelinos attack the 10,064-foot Mount Baldy for the Run-to-the-Top race. But you can scale it at your own pace any other weekend. We recommend the fire road, a rocky singletrack climbing 4,000 feet through lodgepole pines before rising above treeline. At the top, expect a jaw-dropping view all the way to the Pacific.

 > DO IT: To compete, visit; on your own, avoid Baldy in winter, when it’s snowy and more treacherous.

Learn the Ropes in Joshua Tree: “JTree” is one of the most famous climbing destinations in the world: The mini mounts of tactile granite rise from the desert like the greatest jungle gyms on earth. While it’s easy to scramble up many rocks in the park without a rope, to scale one of the 8,000 designated climbing routes, you’ll need gear and a guide.

 > DO IT: Take a course with Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School then spend the night at Hidden Valley campground.

Get Up Close to the Hollywood Sign: Views from the top of Mount Lee, home of the Hollywood sign, are great, but they’re not of the sign itself. For that photo op, hit the Innsdale Drive fire road above the Hollywood reservoir, which passes below the 45-foot-tall, 92-year-old landmark.

 > DO IT: Turn this 3.5-mile hike into a TMZ tour starting in Beachwood Canyon, where the streets and trails pass Moby’s former castle and Madonna’s old villa, to Lake Hollywood.



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