From canyons to coastline to the 10,000+ foot summit of Mt. Baldy, Los Angeles and its environs are rich in hiking trails. With spring time almost upon us, it’s time to break out those hiking boots and head off in search of views.
1. Escondido Falls in Malibu
Accessed from Pacific Coast Highway about a mile south of Kanan Road, this spectacular trail takes hikers, bikers and equestrians more than four miles through protected oak woodland and coastal sage scrub to the breathtaking, multi-tiered Escondido Falls (at 150 ft, the highest in the Santa Monica Mountains). You’ll want to leave at least two hours to enjoy the trail and waterfalls.
2. Runyon Canyon
One of the busiest trails in the city, Runyon is still a perennial favorite. It’s smack in the heart of Hollywood, yet affords great views, fresh air, wild chaparral with its wildflowers and drought-resistant evergreen trees, and fabulous people watching and celebrity-spotting to boot. If you’ve got fashion gear for hiking, here’s the place to show it off. (The popular southern entrance is on Fuller, just north of Franklin, less than a mile from The Huxley, West Hollywood’s newest luxury leasing community).
3. Temescal Canyon
After it rains, there are lots of natural waterfalls along this trail – offering up quite a sight. Located in Pacific Palisades, Temescal Gateway Park encompasses 141 acres of oak and sycamore canyons, ridge-top views and miles of trails in Topanga State Park, Will Rogers State Historic Park and the “Big Wild,” with over 20,000 acres of wilderness to explore. Plus, on a Sunday, you can enjoy the farmers market in the Palisades Village.
4. Griffith Park – Observatory West Trail Troop
This 2.5 mile-long loop trail starts from the Fern Dell picnic area near Los Feliz and culminates in an amazing birds-eye view of the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, and the entire LA basin (before dropping back down to Fern Dell). For good reason, it’s one of the most popular hikes in LA. Make sure to stop along the way up to enjoy shifting, majestic city views as you go.
5. Paseo Miramar
For incredible ocean views, look no further than Paseo Miramar. Wild ridgelines along the Pacific give hikers a front-row seat to winding beaches, surfers, crashing waves and, if you go late enough, a spectacular sunset. Rising from mansion-lined streets, the trail/fire-road heads uphill to the viewing stand of Parker Mesa Overlook, a five-mile round trip with a hefty 1,200 ft elevation gain.
6. Mount Baldy
Mount Baldy, also known as “Old Baldy” or more formally, Mount San Antonio, is a rite of passage for serious SoCal hikers. The 10,064 foot peak towers over the San Gabriel Mountains, and the summit offers far-reaching panoramic views and a rewarding sense of accomplishment. There are two major trails to the top: The Baldy Bowl – Ski Hut Trail and the Baldy Notch – Devil’s Backbone Trail. Both hikes depart from Manker Flats and can be combined into one scenic – albeit challenging – 11.3-mile loop with 3,900 feet of elevation gain. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
7. Fryman Canyon
Located in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains on the north side of Mulholland Drive, Fryman Canyon delivers spectacular ridgeline views, a fitness course and access to The Dearing Trail. This popular hike winds through a wilderness that is abundant with native chaparral, year round fresh springs, plenty of birds, and shady, wooded canyons. The trail is open to hikers and equestrians (no bikes).
8. Franklin Canyon Park
Franklin Canyon Park is an expansive 605 acres of native chaparral, grasslands, oak woodlands, a three-acre lake, duck pond, expansive picnic grounds and over five miles of hiking trails – all near the center of LA. The Discovery Trail is a quick, easy 0.3 miles round trip, looping through black walnut woodland along the canyon bottom. The Hastain Trail is more moderate to strenuous (2.3 miles round trip), rising on a fire road through a chaparral covered slope, to an overlook offering views of the lower canyon, West LA and sometimes even the Pacific Ocean.
9. Portuguese Bend Reserve
In the beautiful peninsula of Palos Verdes, hike down from Del Cerro Park at the end of Crenshaw and enjoy sweeping ocean views that will take your breath away. The 399-acre park consists of rolling hills and five distinct steep canyons and rock outcrops, with coastal sage scrub habitat and intensely fragrant flowering plants. Standing on the gorgeous coast with white-capped waves, surfers, Catalina Island, and even whales and dolphins playing off the coast, you won’t believe you’re only 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Become an owner at the nearby, five-star Terranea Resort, so you can return again and again.
10. Echo Mountain Resort Ruins
This 5.8 mile out-and-back hike, with 1,400 feet of gain, takes you to the ruins of the “White City,” which once included the grand Victorian-style Echo Mountain House perched 3,200 feet above Pasadena along the scenic Mount Lowe Railway. The resort burned down in 1900 and the railway was eventually dismantled but the historic ruins that remain and the breathtaking views extending all the way to Catalina Island make this a popular and noteworthy hike. To reach the ruins, take the Sam Merrill Trail, which you can access at the north end of Lake Avenue in Altadena. The series of switchbacks ascend for 2.7 miles before joining with the Mt. Lowe Trail. At the junction, stay right and continue for another .2 miles to find the ruins.