In the award-winning series Epic Trails, host Eric Hanson showcases wildly rugged and naturally beautiful places all over the world. While Epic Trails typically films in far-flung, remote locations, episode five of season four, which debuts Aug. 12 on Bally Sports and Aug. 21 on Outside TV, takes viewers on a completely different sort of adventure. In “Backpacking Urban California,” Hanson finds off-the-beaten-path locations in the heart of two of the Golden State’s biggest cities.
“This was the first time we’ve ever done urban areas,” says Hanson. “It was really cool to go and explore these great cities that are known for a lot of things—like amazing food and music scenes—but maybe not for outdoor adventure.”
With the help of local guides, the Epic Trails crew experienced a completely different side of San Francisco. “The city is nothing short of amazing—there are so many quiet and peaceful trails,” he says. Hanson’s first spot was climbing the 4.1-mile Creeks to Peaks Trail with guide Alexandra Kenin, founder of Urban Hiker SF. The trail begins in serene Glen Canyon Park before heading up to Twin Peaks, the second-highest natural point in the city, where hikers are rewarded with stunning city vistas.
After a night at Lodge at the Presidio, Hanson headed out for a second city hike on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. The 2.2-mile hike snakes along ocean cliffs and features redwood groves, beach access, and the opportunity to explore 150-year-old platforms that once held cannons perched to defend the harbor. Hanson capped off the visit with a sunset sail with Adventure Cat, where the crew sailed right underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. “It was such a unique way to see San Francisco,” Hanson says.
Next, the show headed roughly 400 miles south to Los Angeles. “I used to think of L.A. as a concrete jungle,” says Hanson, “but it’s so much more than that.” The first stop: a “hike” down East Olympic Boulevard with Javier Cabral of L.A. Taco, where the pair sampled classic Mexican street food from popular trucks like Burritos La Palma, Tacos y Birria La Unica, and Mariscos Jalisco. “It really felt like being in Mexico,” says Hanson. “That was a big highlight for me.”
Hanson also soaked in views of the L.A. Basin atop a horse during a trail ride with Sunset Ranch Hollywood. The next day, Casey Schreiner of Modern Hiker led the host on a sweat session up Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains. The 10,064-foot summit makes for a challenging 11.3-mile look with some serious elevation gain. “I had no idea there was a mountain in L.A.,” says Hanson. “It was so cool to go on this big hike.”
To follow along with each of their California stops, tune in August 12. “There are so many opportunities to hike in cities all over the world, Hanson notes, “but especially in California with its super diverse landscape and geography.”