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!
Show Table of Contents
- The Best Hikes In Los Angeles
- 1. Hollywood Sign Trail
- 2. Ferndell to Griffith Observatory
- 3. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
- 4. Eaton Canyon Trail
- 5. Inspiration Point Trail
- 6. Los Liones Canyon
- 7. Cistern Trail to Lookout Trail
- 8. Solstice Canyon Trail
- 9. Vasquez Rocks Trail
- 10. Mount San Antonio
- 11. Pacific Crest Trail
- Los Angeles Hiking Tips
- Leave No Trace
- Hiking Precautions
- Best Trails In Los Angeles by Distance, Elevation, Difficulty
- What precautions should I take while hiking in Los Angeles?
- What are the best hikes in Los Angeles for beginners?
- Are there any dog-friendly hikes in Los Angeles?
|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
Trailhead: Innsdale Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
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
Trailhead: Griffith Park, Corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and Fern Dell Drive
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.
3. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Trailhead: 6050 Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
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
Trailhead: 1750 N Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107
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
Trailhead: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
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
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
Trailhead: 27700 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
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
Trailhead: 3455 Solstice Canyon Road, Malibu, CA 90265
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
Trailhead: 10700 Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce, CA 91390
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
Trailhead: Manker Flats, Mount Baldy Road, Mount Baldy, CA 91759
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
Trailhead: Campo, California, at the United States and Mexico Border
Distance (Round Trip): 2590.86 miles (start to finish)
Elevation Gain: 430072.17 feet
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be Considerate: Greet fellow hikers, let them pass, and keep noise to a minimum.
- Respect Wildlife: Don’t pet, feed, or disrupt any animals you may encounter.
- 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.
- 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
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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Since both of her parents are German immigrants, Lisa grew up with a lot of German culture. In fact, she’s more familiar with German traditions as opposed to the North American way of life. Growing up, she was fortunate enough to spend many summers in Germany with her family and she is fluent in German. Lisa is also quite the expert on Caribbean cruises, and has been to almost every island. She was also fortunate enough to work at a travel agency for almost 2 years to learn some of the ropes of the industry, and she’s happy to share her experiences, tips, and travel hacks with her readers.