The Best Hikes in LA
Give those new hiking boots a whirl in the glitziest nature trails around.
You may know Los Angeles as a city of glitz, glamour and stars (the celebrity kind). Its biggest attractions are iconic city institutions, from its upscale restaurants and exclusive bars to its family attractions, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios. But this Californian metropolis – which is packed with some of our best Plum Guide homes – has another side: a kinder side, dare we say it. For as easy as it is to find yourself facing the floor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you can just as easily lose yourself on a hike to the nearby Hollywood Sign. Then, there are the multitude of parks spread across the city, packed with meandering paths. Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon are a world away from the dense city centre, with hills providing excellent hiking territory (if your knees can take the strain) and wonderful views of the metropolis below. Here, our guide to the best hikes in LA.
We’re in Los Angeles after all, and your stay wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of the most iconic emblems in the world. There are several trails that lead to the sign, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may even spot a celeb or two, as they’re known for jogging along these well-travelled famous paths (while begging the Press for privacy). Try to resist the urge to snap photos of the stars, as they don’t like that. Well, they do, but they don’t.
One of the best hikes in LA is the Brush Canyon Trail, which meanders up and down hills for 6.4 miles (10.3 kilometres) rising 1,050 feet (320 metres) in elevation. Make sure to bring a hat and a couple of bottles of water. Despite being in the heart of the city, it’s a fairly long and arduous hike and has no stops for snacks and refreshments. The Burbank Peak Trail makes for a much shorter hike – sounds good, right? However, it’s also the most difficult, with a steep climb and many obstacles – but hey, you can do it, we believe in you. Perhaps the Goldilocks of paths is the Hollyridge Trail, which is the second-shortest trail to the Hollywood Sign, but also the least challenging. Get to the sign and take your photos, before uploading them to social media with something witty about how you finally made it to Hollywood.
Runyon Canyon Loop
Hey, do you fancy walking for 3 miles (4.8 kilometres) in the heat, only to find that you’re right back where you started? Yes, us too. And that’s what the Runyon Canyon Loop is all about. Like the short-lived career of many a Hollywood actor, you’ll start and end at the Hollywood Boulevard. Reach the Cloud’s Rest at the summit of the hike for stunning views of the city. Dogs are allowed off-leash, which is either a positive or a negative, depending on your views on our canine friends. And, once more, you’re likely to spot a sweaty celebrity on their mid-morning jogs. This is one of the best hikes in LA for beginners, as it’s not too challenging or steep – just make sure to purchase some fashionable attire to show off to the cool and trendy fellow trekkers.
Franklin Canyon Park
Take on the Discovery Trail for something a little less robust than some of the aforementioned trails. Plus, it’s in the northern outskirts of the city, a little further away from everything, so you can truly enjoy the nature (and get away from all of those pesky celebrities). This one is just a 1-mile (1.6-kilometre) loop that’ll take you to the banks of the Franklin Canyon Lake, which makes for the perfect spot for a picnic and a quick family argument before you get going again. Check out the exhibits in the Sooky Goldman Nature Center to learn about the ecology of the area and forget that Disneyland even exists as you relax amid the birds and wildlife.
El Matador State Beach
For something a little different, head to the coast and hike on down to the sandy strand of El Matador State Beach. Go surfing on the famous Malibu waves and cool down from the afternoon sun with a swim in the sea. Stay for the perfect sunset, which is a prize for the energy you exerted heading down to the beach. As the sky turns crimson and you feel sunned-up, sandy and salty, you just have to brave yourself for one more challenge. The hike back up to the top.