Los Angeles is no stranger to a hiking trail. Dwellers of LA will often head out for a walk or a hike on the weekends. Maybe that’s because the city itself is not walkable at all! Unlike other major US cities like NYC and Chicago, getting from A to B in LA is near impossible by foot. You need a car. But the upside is that a car can take you to some beautiful places in and around LA, such as nature and hiking spots. And when you’re surrounded by vast forests and mountain ranges, there’s a lot to explore. So, we’ve narrowed it down – here are 7 of the best walks in Los Angeles.
The Best Walks in Los Angeles
1. Mount Hollywood via The Charlie Turner Trail, Griffith Park
Length: 3 miles
Duration: 90 minutes
To really get the lay of the land, this walk offers birds-eye views of the city, the Verdugo Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re lucky enough to get there on a smog-free day, that is. This walk takes you to the top of Mount Hollywood. To get to the Mount Hollywood summit, pick up the trail at the north side of the Griffith Observatory parking lot. This trail is not to be confused with Mount Lee which is home to the famous Hollywood Sign. However, around fifteen minutes into the walk, you will spot the Hollywood Sign to your left. Perfect picture opportunity!
2. The Sara Wan Trailhead, Malibu
Length: 2.5 miles
Duration: Up to 90 minutes
If you’re looking for incredible ocean and mountainous views, you can’t go wrong with this trail. You’ll be surrounded by wildlife and nature, with lush wildflowers, coastal sage scrub, lizards, and rabbits! It’s a fairly quiet hike, especially on weekdays, so we encourage you to take advantage.
At first, the sea breeze will follow you up the path. But bare in mind that this quickly becomes a hot and shadeless trail – be sure to bring a hat, suncream, and water. When you reach the first fork, we recommend you bare left. That way, you can enjoy uninterrupted ocean views when you make your way back down. You get sweeping views of Santa Monica Beaches, spanning all the way to Point Dume.
3. Echo Mountain via Sam Merrill Trail, Altadena
Length: 5 miles
Duration: Up to 3.5 hours
As you may your way through the entrance to the Sam Merrill Trail, a sign declares “a quiet refuge from people and wild life forever” and while you’ll only be here for a few hours, spending forever on this mountain wouldn’t be so bad. This trail is slightly longer than the other walks and hikes, but it’s worth it. It’s more of a challenge, but not too challenging for a novice.
You’ll begin by climbing the wall of a canyon and about fifteen minutes in, you’ll emerge onto the face of the mountain. Even at the beginning, the views of Downtown LA, San Gabriel Valley, and Pasadena are breathtaking.
4. Escondido Falls Trail, Malibu
Length: 3.8 miles
Duration: 2 hours
Escondido Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls in Southern California, spread across two tiers and spanning 150 feet. You’ll start your walk on Winding Way East, following a road that will take you to a path that marks the Escondido Trail. It’s generally considered an easy path, but adventurous all the same. You’ll cross creeks and streams, hopping over rocks and stones.
After about a mile, you’ll reach the lower tier of the waterfall. This is a good place to stop and have a breather, taking in the beautiful sights. The rest of the trail can get slippy, so if you’re less sure-footed, this could be a good place to end the trail. At 50 feet, the Lower Escondido Falls are beautiful all the same, and you’ll be glad you did it even without reaching the top. If you do want to continue, we encourage you to take the route to the right of the falls. It’s a steep and slippy climb, but there’s a guide rope to help you along. When you reach the top, you’ll be awestruck by the fairytale, tiered waterfall that pours over mossy stones. Be mindful that if it hasn’t rained recently, the falls tend to be more of a trickle than a pour.
5. Runyon Canyon, Hollywood Hills
Length: 2.7 miles
Duration: 90 minutes
If you want steep inclines and beautiful cityscape views, all while being in the heart of LA’s Hollywood, this is the walk for you. Its proximity to the city makes it extremely popular, so be aware that the route is likely to be crowded. But sometimes things are popular for a reason, and this is one of those things. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an easy jaunt because it’s so popular! It’s definitely a good workout and so worth it. You’ll get a clear view of the Hollywood sign and encounter lots of dogs.
If Runyan Canyon is not off-the-beaten-path enough for you, try out Fryman Canyon instead. It’s typically less crowded and has a more remote feel.
6. Betty B. Dearing Trail, Studio City
Length: 5 miles
Duration: 2 hours
This trail is another walk that’s right in the heart of the city. It’s perfect for those that are looking for a respite from the city, but without having to travel far at all. It crosses three LA parks, Wilacre, Fryman Canyon, and Coldwater Canyon. One of the best things about this walk is the amount of shade it gets. LA summers are unforgiving, so a walk with plenty of shade is welcomed. And although it’s in the city, this is a moderately challenging walk. Don’t let this put you off, physical exertion is rewarded with stellar views of the Valley. Plus, the first half a mile is where you’ll make half of the elevation, so the rest of the walk will seem tame in comparison!
7. Temescal Canyon Trail, Pacific Palisades
Length: 2.6 – 4 miles
Duration: Up to 2 hours
With spectacular ocean, cityscape, and canyon views, this walk is popular for a reason. And despite feeling worlds away from the city, it starts just off Sunset Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades. Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy views of Malibu, the mesmerising Santa Monica mountains, and Downtown LA. The loop itself is 2.6 miles, but you can extend it to 4 miles via a variety of extension routes. If you choose not to extend it and to take the official loop, you’ll still reach 860 feet of elevation, so you certainly won’t feel like you’ve missed out if you choose to keep it short and sweet. This trail really has it all – traverse through woodlands, spot beautiful flora, climb on rock formations (including the famous Skull Rock), and there’s even a waterfall.