10 Great Hiking Trails In Los Angeles
Los Angeles may be known for Hollywood, beaches, traffic, and urban sprawl, but it should also be known for the numerous great hiking areas like those in the Santa Monica Mountains or in the Angeles National Forest. The Greater Los Angeles area has a wide variety of wilderness areas with different vegetation, climate, and geology, so there’s something for everyone. Here are 10 great day hikes to check out in Los Angeles County.
Griffith Park Trails, Los Angeles
Length: more than 53 miles of hiking trails
Right in the middle of Los Angeles is 4, 310 acres of rugged hills and the urban wilderness of Griffith Park. One of the largest urban parks in North America, Griffith Park has a network of more than 53 miles of trails for hikers to explore. Special attractions include the famous Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, and the original Bat Cave from the 1960s Batman series.
Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles
Length: 3 miles round trip with possibilities to extend
Everyone and their mom comes to Runyon Canyon to hike. It’s the most popular trail in Los Angeles, so if you don’t mind the high foot traffic, you can get a decent workout while soaking up great views of Hollywood. The trail isn’t too challenging but it’s a fun hike. You’ll see many people with their dogs here as there are off-leash areas for dogs to run around and you might see a celebrity along the trails as well.
Eaton Canyon Falls, Pasadena
Length: 3.5 miles round trip
This is an easy hike that takes you through scenic areas in the Eaton Canyon Natural Area and rewards you with a 40 foot waterfall at the end of the trail. It’s perfect for beginner hikers or anyone just wanting a relaxing stroll through nature.
Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak, Malibu
Length: 6 miles round trip
According to many, this is a must-hike trail in Los Angeles. At 3111 feet, Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, giving you a great workout and sweeping views of the Pacific ocean, including Catalina Island and Channel Islands on a clear day.
Escondido Falls, Malibu
Length: 4 miles round trip
Also in the Santa Monica mountains is Escondido Canyon Park, home of the multi-tiered 150-ft Escondido Falls–the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains. The ~2 mile out and back trail to the falls is mostly flat but there areas where you need to use ropes to climb over large boulders. The waterfall will be dry in drier periods so the best time to see it would be in the springtime.
La Jolla Valley, Point Mugu, Malibu
Length: 6 miles round trip
Starting from a dirt parking lot on Pacific Coast Highway is the steep ascent of the Chumash Trail. This ancient hiking trail is the oldest in continuous use in the Santa Monicas with the Chumash Indians having walked along these paths 7,000 years ago, making these trails older than the Egyptian pyramids. Once you get to the summit, you’ll reach La Jolla Valley area which was once inhabited by Chumash villages. The prehistoric trail meets up with the La Jolla Valley Loop Trail which is a very scenic hike that takes you through meadows, rolling hills, and canyons.
Cooper Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest
Length: 3 miles round trip
In the San Gabriel Mountains of Angeles National Forest is Cooper Canyon Falls, a 30-ft waterfall that flows almost year-round but flows strongest in the spring. Starting from Buckhorn Campground, the hike to the falls is around 1.5 miles and descends through tall pine tree forests, past rocky outcroppings and steep cliffs, down into Cooper Canyon where you’ll find the path to the small waterfall.
Fish Canyon Narrows, Angeles National Forest
Length: 8 miles round trip
Fish Canyon Narrows is located on the west end of Angeles National Forest, just north of the city of Santa Clarita. The hike is mostly flat and will take you through abandoned campgrounds, past an old mine shaft, and along a creek bed that goes through narrow canyons that are barely 15 feet wide in some places. With many trees providing shade cover for much of the trail and the paths through the cool narrows, this hike would be pleasant even in warmer months.
Bridge to Nowhere, East Fork of the San Gabriel River
Length: 10 miles round trip
In 1936, a bridge was constructed as part of a project to build a road that would connect the San Gabriel Valley with Wrightwood but a massive flood washed away the road and the project was abandoned, leaving the bridge isolated in the middle of the San Gabriel Mountains. Today it is a hiking destination and the only spot in California where it is legal to go bungee jumping. The trail is 5 miles to the bridge and follows the river through the canyon with multiple river crossings. This hike is doable in the winter but because you’ll have to cross the river multiple times, hiking after heavy rainstorms can be dangerous and is not recommended.
Mount Lowe Railway, Altadena
Length: 10 miles round trip
The Mount Lowe Railway was a tourist attraction on Mount Echo and Mount Lowe that existed from 1893 to 1938, when it was abandoned. It carried visitors in electric trolleys up the scenic mountainside but after a series of natural disasters the railway was dismantled. Hikers can follow the path of the railway up to the ruins of the Echo Mountain Restort and the Mount Lowe Tavern with historical markers along the way telling the story of what was once Southern California’s most famous tourist attraction.
For more hiking trails around Los Angeles, check out these great hiking guides: