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The 11 Best Hikes In Los Angeles For Any Time Of Year

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The concrete metropolis of Los Angeles conjures up images of celebrities, the glitz and glam of Hollywood Hills, and palm tree-lined streets and beaches. Let’s try a new angle. Did you know that this Southern California area is a hiking hotspot and rich in natural beauty?

Being close to nature is a magical, healing, and peaceful experience. And science proves that hiking (yes, the simple act of walking) is phenomenal for physical and mental health. Bond with friends and family, or go solo. Hiking is a must-try activity and crucial to those who truly love to explore – and the LA area has hiking in spades.

Rest assured, these hikes are more than just miles of boring desert landscape. Countless trails provide waterfalls, mountain views, glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, lush forests, and spectacular views of the greater Los Angeles area.

Grab your boots, camera, and snacks. Let’s look at some of the best hikes in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Maybe you’ll even run into your favorite celebrity while working up a sweat!

TL;DR

Category Hike
Best Hike for Families Inspiration Point Trail
Best View Griffith Observatory
Most Scenic Hike Solstice Canyon Trail
Best Challenging Hike Pacific Crest Trail
Best Quick Hike Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

The Best Hikes In Los Angeles

1. Hollywood Sign Trail

Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles
logoboom – stock.adobe.com

Trailhead: Innsdale Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance (Round Trip): 4.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 764.44 feet

This beautiful hike in Los Angeles gets you close to the iconic Hollywood sign on Mount Lee. Your journey awaits at the end of Canyon Lake Drive.

This trek is incredible for families with older children and dogs, so it’s really a good fit for many people who come to visit the Golden State. Guided tours are also available.

The hike takes just over two hours. If you want to keep going, there are plenty of offshoots to continue your epic adventure.

Be sure to check out the Wisdom Tree, located on Cahuenga Peak. The Wisdom Tree was the only tree to miraculously survive a wildfire in 2007. It’s a true testament to the miracles of Mother Nature.

To see the notorious Bronson Cave filming location, follow the Western Canyon Trail. After you’re wiped out from hiking, make it an authentic Hollywood Hills experience by staying at The Hollywood Roosevelt on Hollywood Blvd.

2. Ferndell to Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory and Los Angeles city skyline
f11photo / Adobe Stock

Trailhead: Griffith Park, Corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and Fern Dell Drive
Difficulty: Easy
Distance (Round Trip): 2.61 miles
Elevation Gain: 610 feet

Locals say this is one of the best hiking trails in Los Angeles to take to the Griffith Observatory. Your hike begins at Ferndell (or Fern Dell – no one seems to be able to agree on whether or not this is one or two words), which takes you through lush greenery filled with wildlife and some mini waterfalls.

If you’re hiking in Los Angeles with children or dogs, Griffith Park is the place to be. The path is stroller-friendly and wheelchair-accessible, but having all-terrain tires will help you tackle the steep slopes.

Satisfy your growling stomach up at the top. Stop at the Café at the End of the Universe, which is a short walk from the observatory.

The observatory is on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood. Get legendary photos of the city skyline, Santa Monica Mountains, San Gabriel Mountains, and the ocean. The hike should take around an hour and a half. Extend your stay with a guided tour of the Observatory.

See Related: Flea Markets in Los Angeles to Visit

3. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

View of Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
June / TripAdvisor

Trailhead: 6050 Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance (Round Trip): 1.30 miles
Elevation Gain: 334.64 feet

This is a phenomenal hike for getting your steps in, literally. The hike involves climbing a set of outdoor stairs. You’ll have to leave the pups at home though, as it’s not dog-friendly.

This great morning adventure should take around 45 minutes to complete. Many visitors have stated the hike is a great way to get blood flowing and that it’s also less crowded early in the day. The trek is an awesome workout.

At the lookout point, you can see views of downtown Los Angeles, the ocean, and the Santa Monica Mountains.

4. Eaton Canyon Trail

Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena, California
Eaton Canyon Natural Area / parks.lacounty.gov

Trailhead: 1750 N Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107
Difficulty: Easy
Distance (Round Trip): 3.47 miles
Elevation Gain: 446.19 feet

The base of the San Gabriel Mountains is home to Eaton Canyon Natural Area. To trek the Eaton Canyon Trail, your journey will begin at the north end of the parking lot.

This scenic hike is very popular and incredible for beginner hikers, children, and dogs. It’s a great workout and should take around an hour and a half to complete.

In the springtime, the area blooms with enchanting wildflowers. As you journey along the path, you’ll discover the Eaton Canyon Waterfall, an astounding 40-foot waterfall.

As you venture along Eaton Canyon Creek, you’ll love the views of the rugged landscape. The area is thriving with wildlife. Many creatures, such as birds, lizards, frogs, jackrabbits, and butterflies, call the area home.

For more of a challenge, try the Sam Merrill trail, also in Eaton Canyon. From there, you can ascend Echo Mountain. Atop Echo Mountain, you’ll see the ruins of an old hotel. Don’t forget your camera! You’ll get incredible photos of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Gabriel Valley.

5. Inspiration Point Trail

Horseback riding in Will Rogers State Historic Park
Will Rogers State Historic Park / parks.ca.gov

Trailhead: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Difficulty: Easy
Distance (Round Trip): 2.17 miles
Elevation Gain: 377.29 feet

Families will love spending the day at Will Rogers State Historic Park. Take a tour of the Ranch House, casually stroll the hiking trails, or sign up for some horse riding lessons. Lots of the paths are perfect for strollers, wheelchairs, and dogs.

For a serene escape into the Santa Monica Mountains, trek on the Inspiration Point Trail. Hiking the path should take about an hour. On the trek, enjoy the panoramic views of the Los Angeles basin and Santa Monica Bay. On clear days, you can catch a glimpse of Catalina, Saddleback Peak, and Chino Hills.

There’s a picnic area by the main parking lot with tables, BBQs, and grills for a relaxing, post-hike cookout.

6. Los Liones Canyon

Topanga State Park trail
Topanga State Park / parks.ca.gov

Trailhead: 585 Los Liones Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Distance (Round Trip): 11.30 miles
Elevation Gain: 2532.80 feet

Spend the day in Topanga State Park with a heart-pumping six-hour trek. This expedition is not dog-friendly and has moderately difficult terrain. Depending on the season, you might encounter beautiful wildflowers along the way.

The Los Liones Trail surrounds you with lush greenery and shady sections to cool off. Your picturesque journey features views of canyons, mountains, and the Pacific coastline.

Once you connect to the East Topanga Fire Road, scenic overlooks of the Pacific Ocean and the San Fernando Valley will greet you. Heads up that the fire roads don’t have much shade, so be prepared.

Your hike finishes with an ascent to Parker Mesa, where you’ll get incredible views of Santa Monica Bay. On a clear day, catch a glimpse of the San Bernardino Mountains. Parker Mesa has picturesque coastal views you won’t want to miss.

Looking for the best hiking near Los Angeles for small kids that isn’t going to take six hours? The Greenbriar Trail is perfect for little ones down for an adventure and features similar sights.

7. Cistern Trail to Lookout Trail

Landscape in Malibu State Park
Malibu Creek State Park / malibucreekstatepark.org

Trailhead: 27700 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance (Round Trip): 1.30 miles
Elevation Gain: 390.41 feet

Insider tip: This is one of the lesser-known Los Angeles hikes. This quick hike in Malibu Creek State Park should take around 46 minutes. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed on any trails in the State Park.

If you start your journey from the Lake Vista Drive trailhead, you can venture to Paramount Ranch or Reagan Ranch.

You’ll have the opportunity to cool off as the path offers some shade. Does the area look familiar? It was used as a filming set for M*A*S*H. On top of the Lookout Trail, you’ll have stunning views of Malibu Lake and the surrounding mountainous region.

Malibu Creek State Park has lots of hiking paths that are kid-friendly. Surround yourself with walls of volcanic rock on the Rock Pool and Century Lake Trails.

The Anne Skager Trail is a brief 15-minute walk. While it’s not as scenic, it’s great for little legs.

Feel like making a real adventure of it? Like you’re there with Hawkeye and Radar? Complete your stay in Malibu by checking in at The Surfrider Malibu, located on the Pacific Coast Highway.

8. Solstice Canyon Trail

Solstice Canyon Trail in Malibu, California
Solstice Canyon Trail / nps.gov

Trailhead: 3455 Solstice Canyon Road, Malibu, CA 90265
Difficulty: Easy
Distance (Round Trip): 2.98 miles
Elevation Gain: 669.29 feet

The Santa Monica Mountains await you. Experience history as you see the oldest still-standing stone building in Malibu. The Solstice Canyon Trail has an impressive 30-foot waterfall, historic ruins, exotic plants, and a hidden statue of the Virgin Mary.

Hiking the path should take around an hour and a half. For a continuous adventure, there are lots of trails off the main path. The Rising Sun Trail will give you stunning coastal views.

The trek isn’t stroller-friendly, but it’s perfect for dogs, kids, and beginner hikers looking for a longer walk.

9. Vasquez Rocks Trail

Trail in Vasquez Rocks National Park, California
Brandon Joseph / Adobe Stock

Trailhead: 10700 Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce, CA 91390
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance (Round Trip): 3.29 miles
Elevation Gain: 472.44 feet

If you’re in search of a unique hiking spot near Los Angeles, try the family-friendly Vasquez Rocks Trail. Older children (and children at heart) will enjoy climbing rock formations in designated areas.

If you are intending to travel with young children, the trek rating is moderately difficult. It’s better to pick shorter trails along the route better suited for them.

This dog-friendly hike takes about an hour and a half. There is limited shade, so pack extra water, sunscreen, and a hat. The park also has designated picnic areas to take a well-deserved break when you need one.

The otherworldly rock formations were used in TV shows such as Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. If an extraterrestrial photo shoot is on your to-do list, now is the time. 

You also may find some exotic critters during your journey. The area is home to wildlife, including birds, lizards, small mammals, bobcats, coyotes, and snakes. 

If you feel like making more of an adventure of it, or if you feel like you’re going to crash afterward, book a hotel in nearby Santa Clarita for a night.

See Related: Best Vacation Rentals in California

10. Mount San Antonio

Mount Baldy in California
half-Brit / TripAdvisor

Trailhead: Manker Flats, Mount Baldy Road, Mount Baldy, CA 91759
Difficulty: Hard
Distance (Round Trip): 12.98 miles
Elevation Gain: 4294.61 feet

This is one of the best hikes near Los Angeles for experienced hikers. You can really get your adrenaline pumping with this challenging route. The journey should take around eight hours and 15 minutes and is a fantastic day trip from Los Angeles. You’ll love the stunning views!

Reach out and touch the clouds. Mount San Antonio is the highest point in the San Gabriel Mountains and the entire county. This dog-friendly trail is an incredibly scenic hike. You’ll love seeing the different flora and fauna with changing elevations and ecosystems.

During your hike, catch breathtaking views of San Antonio Falls. If you trek on a clear day, you can see the Mojave Desert and the Pacific Ocean. The best time to roam the trail is from June to October.

Keep in mind that some trails in Angeles National Forest will require the purchase of an Adventure Pass, which you’ll leave on your car dashboard in the parking lot.

11. Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail and sign in Washington
kellyvandellen / Adobe Stock

Trailhead: Campo, California, at the United States and Mexico Border
Difficulty: Hard
Distance (Round Trip): 2590.86 miles (start to finish)
Elevation Gain: 430072.17 feet

Die-hard adventurers will love this perfect hike for their bucket list. The trailhead starts at the United States and Mexican border.

This legendary North American hike goes all the way up north to Canada, passing through California, Oregon, and Washington. The Pacific Crest Trail is a great day trip hike from Los Angeles.

According to Bikehike.org, venturing the full path will take around five months. If that seems intimidating, you can also hike the trail in sections.

The area is also phenomenal for horseback riding. Yee-haw! This is one epic journey, and it’s an interesting trail as you trek through different ecosystems.

March through November is the best time to trek. Lower elevations in California are best in the spring and fall. The longer you hike, the more planning you need.

If you’re up in the mountains, you’ll want to hike there in the summer and early fall. Avoid the higher elevations in the wintertime unless you want to be buried in snow.

Los Angeles Hiking Tips

Leave No Trace

Family on a Zion National Park hiking trip
Margaret / Adobe Stock

Leave No Trace is an ethos encouraged at all U.S. state and national parks, forests, critical habitats, and areas of outstanding natural beauty. The idea is that you leave as little impact as possible during your visit so the natural beauty and health of these environments are better preserved.

There are seven main principles in the Leave No Trace code of ethics:

  1. Plan Ahead: Check weather conditions in advance. Make sure you have enough gear, food, and water to last the duration of the hike. Review trail information if you’re planning on bringing dogs or children.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Venturing off the path means you’re disrupting nature and wildlife. Find a small campsite with little vegetation and don’t alter the area.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly: Don’t be that guy. Leaving behind trash is disrespectful and can disrupt the delicate ecosystem. Brush up on outdoor basics by learning how to dispose of waste.
  4. Leave What You Find: The only acceptable souvenir is a photograph. Although tempting, please don’t take any rocks, plants, or wildlife back home. Admire historical monuments from a distance.
  5. Be Considerate: Greet fellow hikers, let them pass, and keep noise to a minimum.
  6. Respect Wildlife: Don’t pet, feed, or disrupt any animals you may encounter.
  7. Minimize Campfire Impact: We don’t want you to be on the front page of the newspaper for causing a wildfire. Abide by fire safety rules and only use established equipment.

Hiking Precautions

Man hiking with Tablet that has a GPS
Petair / Adobe Stock
  • The type of hiking gear will depend on certain factors. Consider the duration of your journey, the weather, and the terrain. Always pack more than you think you need.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots and appropriate clothing. You may want to layer clothing to adjust to the changing temperatures. And don’t forget a hat!
  • The Southern California sun can be toasty. Some places to hike in Los Angeles don’t offer much shade. Wear adequate sun protection and hike in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Bring water, preferably in a large, insulated, refillable bottle, because you’re going to be sweating a lot.
  • The wilderness isn’t the ideal endgame. Bring a map or compass. Carry a first aid kit and insect repellent.
  • A backpack is awesome for adventuring, plus you can put your bottle, first aid kit, sunscreen, and spare layers in there!
  • Download a decent hiking app like AllTrails to help you plan your routes.
  • It’s always safer to travel with others. If you’re solo, let someone back home know your itinerary.

See Related: The Complete Backpacking Checklist for Travelers

Best Trails In Los Angeles by Distance, Elevation, Difficulty

Trail Name Difficulty Level Distance (Round Trip) Elevation Gain Trailhead Location Features
Hollywood Sign Trail Moderate 4.3 miles 764.44 feet Innsdale Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068 Hollywood Sign, Wisdom Tree, views of downtown Los Angeles
Ferndell to Griffith Observatory Easy 2.61 miles 610 feet Griffith Park, Park entrance at the corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and Fern Dell Drive Griffith Observatory, 360 panoramic views of LA, Beginner, kid, and wheelchair friendly
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Moderate 1.30 miles 334.64 feet 6050 Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232 Panoramic views of LA, takes less than an hour to complete
Eaton Canyon Trail Easy 3.47 miles 446.19 feet 1750 N Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107 Eaton Canyon Falls, Eaton Canyon Creek, Great trail for kids and beginner hikers
Inspiration Point Trail Easy 2.17 miles 377.29 feet 1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 Kid, wheelchair, dog, and stroller friendly, picnic area has BBQs and grills for use
Los Liones Canyon and East Topanga Fire Road Moderate to Hard 11.30 miles 2532.80 feet 585 Los Liones Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 Coastal views, views of San Fernando Valley, Wildflowers
Cistern Trail to Lookout Trail Moderate 1.30 miles 390.41 feet 27700 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 M*A*S*H film site, views of Malibu Lake
Solstice Canyon Trail Easy 2.98 miles 669.29 feet Malibu, CA 30-foot waterfall, exotic plants, ruins, oldest still-standing stone building in Malibu
Vasquez Rocks Trail Moderate 3.29 miles 472.44 feet 10700 Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce, CA 91390 Otherworldly rock formations, Famous filming location
Mount San Antonio (Mount Baldy) Hard 12.98 miles 4294.61 feet Manker Flats, Mount Baldy Road, Mount Baldy, CA 91759 The highest point in Los Angeles County, San Antonio Falls, panoramic views of the San Gabriel Mountains
Pacific Crest Trail Hard 2590.86 miles (start to finish) 430072.17 feet Campo, California at the United States and Mexico Border Diverse ecosystems, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park

Table Data: www.alltrails.com

FAQs

What precautions should I take while hiking in Los Angeles?

Southern California can get pretty hot in the summer. Some trails don’t offer much shade. Make sure you have more than enough food and water, and wear sun protection!

What are the best hikes in Los Angeles for beginners?

There are a lot of great hikes for beginners. Trek up to the Griffith Observatory or admire the scenery on the Solstice Canyon Trail. The Inspiration Point Trail is awesome for strollers and children of all ages.

Are there any dog-friendly hikes in Los Angeles?

There are plenty of opportunities to bring furry friends for hiking in Los Angeles. Climb Mount Hollywood to the Griffith Observatory or trek Mount Lee to the iconic Hollywood Sign.

Try any of the paths in Will Rogers Historic State Park. For a real challenge, bond with your pup while climbing Mount San Antonio.

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