Table of Contents
#1 – The Griffith Park trails:
There are interestingly three trails that you may be interested in hiking through. The Park itself is beautiful, so you can feel free to explore it at your leisure. That being said, it is easier to just stick to one of the marked trails. Neither is super long, so you could easily manage to do them all back to back. If the California heat hasn’t started to wear you down too much. Here are the two trails you should be most interested in.
Bronson Canyon is the easiest hike among the trio. It is pretty flat and only takes about an hour to hike to completion (there and back). Bronson Canyon is pretty cool, that’s why it is so regularly used for filming. The canyon looks very alien-like as if it was almost from another world. This, over time, has led to many aspiring filmmakers using it as a free backdrop for their latest project. There is a 50-foot long cave along the trail that was used in one of the original Batman series (the 1960s). The cave is truthfully just an old mining tunnel, but it is fun to make-believe.
Griffith Observatory Loop:
The Griffith Observatory Loop is a great option for anyone who isn’t afraid of a slightly longer hike. The loop is about 2.5 miles long and is a must for anyone who is only briefly visiting the city. The loop offers views of the observatory itself, of course, but also the iconic Hollywood sign. Don’t forget your camera for this hike, you will regret it if you do. This hike is initially pretty steep, but, over time begins to flatten out. Once you are at an elevation that makes seeing the observatory and the sign possible it is pretty flat for the rest of the hike. If you can get over the initial incline it is a pretty easy going walk.
Brush Canyon Trail:
The Brush Canyon Trail is almost exactly 2 miles long. This one is a little quieter, a lot less touristy, and just as easy going as any of the other trails. This trail offers some stunning views of Mount Hollywood and is a great way to get back into nature if you are living in the city. It is important to note that this trail does intersect with a few others along the way. If you arent attentive to the trail markers you may end up hiking a LOT farther than you originally intended. If you only packed enough water for 3 hours but end up hiking for 6, you are in trouble. The Californian sun can be pretty intense.
#2 – Runyon Canyon:
If you were looking for a way of casually bumping into celebrities, hiking may not be the best way to go about doing that. If you are deadset on trying to spot someone famous, Runyon Canyon is the way to go. This short 3-hour hike is very easy going and is good for anyone with even the most basic hiking experience. It might be a little tougher going by the end if you aren’t the fittest person, but so long as you have enough water you will manage. The hike is so easy to get to, you can find free parking on Fuller Avenue so walking the distance from your car to the start of the hike and back doesn’t need to be factored into the distance at all. Finding free parking in LA can be tricky, so you are in luck. The hike is home to what’s known as “The Clouds Rest”. This is the summit of the trail and offers the most amazing views. Another huge benefit to this trail is that there is an off-leash policy for dogs. If you were hoping to give your dog a chance to stretch their legs, or simply just enjoy watching other people’s dogs runabout, this is the trail for you.
#3 – Franklin Canyon Park:
Franklin Canyon Park is a very short one-mile hike around Franklin Canyon Lake. This is a super easy trail, anyone can do it. Even if you have very poor mobility and the very lowest fitness levels you will have no trouble at all. The park is over one hundred years old, over this time it has grown in popularity and size. It is now home to five-miles of trails that you can feel free to explore. None are as easy as the round the lake loop, but they are all quite manageable. The park is also home to the Sooky Goldman nature center and over 600 acres of meticulously maintained parkland. If you are looking for somewhere suitable to bring the kids along with you, this might be the one for you. If you, or your kids, are new to hiking a one-mile flat loop is about as good as it can get.
#4 – Eaton Canyon:
Eaton Canyon is pretty long compared to some of the other hikes on this list but is still quite manageable. The trail is 4 miles long, start to finish, so it should only take you half a day at most. The trail is very scenic, culminating in a stunning view of an incredible 40-foot waterfall. The walk itself is pretty great, where it truly shines is its natural area. The natural area is an amazing botanical garden of sorts. It is home to many unique species of animals, plants, and trees. If you are a huge nature nerd you will be able to entertain yourself here all day. Don’t forget your camera, don’t forget some bug repellent. If you are planning on hiking during your stay in Los Angeles, chances are some days may seem too intimidating for long hikes. Its too hot, dry, and the sun is too glaring. If that’s the case, this waterfall hike is for you. The waterfall is very refreshing and relaxing. Even on the warmest day, the mist of the waterfall will be incredibly soothing for you and your furry friend (should you choose to bring them along with you). Make sure you keep your dog on a leash in the park and along the trail. Or you risk being fined should they end up chasing some of the wildlife.
#5 – Will Rogers State Park:
The Rustic Canyon Loop can be found in Will Rogers State Park. This hike is quite long, over 6 miles. If you are a beginner this hike may not be the one for you. The difference between a 3-mile hike and a 6-mile hike is a lot bigger than you think. After that fourth and fifth-mile things can start to get hard. If you arent up the challenge, that sixth mile might be pure torture. Don’t let the distance discourage you though. If you have the time, 6 miles can be broken down into several small sections. If you don’t mind stopping every hour or so for a decent rest you will do just fine. It might end up taking all day though. Slow and steady wins the race; if you’ve got nothing else to do that day – why not? The hike itself is pretty incredible, you will get some breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean. If you are only visiting Los Angeles for a short time, you can’t miss out on seeing the Pacific ocean in all its glory. For the best views, try timing your descent from the hike to coincide with sunset. You will be able to take some truly spectacular photographs.
#6 – Wilacre Park:
Wilacre Park is a lot easier than the two previous options. It is short, sweet, and time-efficient. If you are only in town a short while you will want to maximize your time spent as much as possible. Wilacre Park is home to the Betty B. Dearing Trail, a trail that is only 2.5 miles long but is packed full of things to see. The park is home to the amazing “Tree People” rainforest. The Tree People are a nonprofit environmental group, they work towards the preservation and conservation of natural spaces. Like the park. Since the park is partially run by this non-profit, you will be expected to pay $3 to park there. All of the money goes towards the maintenance of the park, so you know that you are contributing to a good cause.
#7 – Topanga State Park:
Topanga State Park is home to the Los Liones Trail. This trail is long. And difficult. If you are an inexperienced hiker you should certainly give this one a miss. The trail is a 7-mile loop and has a change of elevation that is over 1300 feet. The incline is VERY steep up and, of course, back down again. If you arent wearing the correct footwear or carrying the necessary supplies in your backpack this hike simply isn’t going to be safe for you. This one is also not ideal for dogs, you can bring yours if you feel they are up to the task, but it can be very tough going for them. If you do feel confident in your abilities and are brave enough to hike this trail, you are in for a real treat. The views from the top of the trail are incredible. That’s the reward you get from hiking such a steep incline. Elevation almost always equals better views. The Los Liones Trail is no different.
#8 – Malibu Creek State Park:
If you are a fan of the hit show M*A*S*H, you arent going to want to miss this one. The Malibu Creek State Park is home to the set of the show and some pretty great hiking trails. The best trail is by far the Crags Road Trail. This trail is 4.5 miles long, meaning you may want to set aside at least a morning or an afternoon to complete it at a leisurely pace. If you are hoping to spot a specific part of the set, you may be in for a tough time. The park is home to over 7000 acres of land. So, the chances of you stumbling upon an area you recognize from the show are pretty slim. But not zero. The hiking trail itself is pretty darn easy. The park is very flat, there is little to no elevation, and the trail itself is very well maintained. If you were looking for a longer hike, but not a more difficult one, this one is for you.
Some of the best hiking in Lost Angeles can be found just a short drive from the city center. There is so much to see and to do, that anywhere with even the smallest elevation will offer staggering views of the city and the surrounding countryside. If you live in the city and are looking to leave the hustle and bustle behind, the larger parks such as the Malibu Creek State Park might be your saving grace.
About THE AUTHOR
From a young age I was introduced to fishing, hiking, camping, snowboarding and more through family, friends, and scouting. After 20 years of learning and participating in these outdoor activities, I share what i've learned (and continue learning) with you.Read more about Scott Kimball