With a variety of distinct climate zones, fascinating geology, nearby wilderness areas and nearly-perfect weather year-round, L.A. really does have something for everyone who’s looking to get outside. Here we would like to help you explore the most beautiful points of the city and get on the best hiking trails for unforgettable summer adventures ahead.
Santa Monica Mountains
Rounded, rolling hills and low mountains nestled near the Pacific Coast and stretching into Hollywood. Here, you’ll find large swaths of native California Grassland and incredible wildflower blooms in the spring. Below are the best places through which you can explore these mountains:
LOS LIONES TRAIL TO PARKER MESA
This is a moderate trail that climbs from the Pacific Palisades into Topanga State Park to the top of Parker Mesa and is one of the most incredible coastal views in Los Angeles.
MALIBU CREEK STATE PARK
Whether you’re taking a flat stroll along the Canyon floor or climbing the ridge of the Castro Crest, this park is definitely worth your time. Here you can find information about the Lower Malibu Creek Loop for those just starting off with hiking, or for the more adventurous, here you can find everything you need to start your advanced climbing experience.
We are sure this will turn into your favorite hike in Southern California. The Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak and Tri Peaks will take you to the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, passing killer views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Bay.
The popular Solstice Canyon Trail will take you through a shaded canyon past the oldest standing stone structure and oldest living tree in Malibu to the ruins of a 1950s mansion nestled beside a small, tiered waterfall.
Who said city parks aren’t worth hiking? They are close by and are good for getting your hiking fix when you don’t want to spend a full day out on the trail.
CAHUENGA PEAK AND THE WISDOM TREE
There are many ways to hike to the back of the Hollywood Sign in Griffith Park, but only one that feels like an actual wilderness adventure. The recently-added trail to Cahuenga Peak passes the beloved Wisdom Tree (the only tree in the area to survive an early 2007 fire) and then joins with the more tourist-friendly paved route on the back of Mount Lee. So if you want to hike to the Hollywood Sign and still have a bit of solitude, this is the hike for you.
KENNETH HAHN COMMUNITY LOOP TRAIL
Featuring strands of dense wood, huge open meadows, and some fascinating L.A. history, this park is also a destination for photographers on those gorgeous, clear L.A. days. With views stretching from the Pacific Ocean past Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background, it’s not hard to see why.
This is one of the most popular and most accessible hikes in L.A. and for good reason. There’s a gently graded paved path for beginners, a rare off-leash dog area for our canine friends, free yoga near the Fuller Avenue entrance, and a surprisingly rugged outer loop that will definitely give you a good workout. Another upside is that it’s a great place to watch the sunset!
SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS
655,000 acres of rugged mountain terrain, right in L.A.’s backyard. From the ruins of turn-of-the-century resort hotels to the highest peak in Los Angeles County, this region offers easy walks to intense backcountry adventures.
BRIDGE TO NOWHERE
If you like river crossings and forgotten L.A. history, put the Bridge to Nowhere on your list. This epic 10-mile out-and-back follows (and crosses) the East Fork of the San Gabriel River deep into the mountains, where engineers tried to cut a road in the 1930s. The great flood of ’38 washed most of the road away, except for a 120-foot concrete arch bridge that still stands.
The trails of Echo Mountain will amaze you as they did to us. You could take the old Red Car train from downtown L.A. right to the hotels via a winding railway or an exciting funicular and make this a complete adventure instead of just the usual hike.
This popular peak is a bit of a drive down the long and winding Angeles Crest Highway, but the trip to Mount Baden-Powell is worth it. This beautifully designed trail switchbacks its way up to the 9,407-foot high summit named in honor of the founder of the Scouting movement.
No hiker’s journey is complete until they’ve completed Mount San Antonio, better known to locals as Mount Baldy. At 10,064 feet, this is the highest point in Los Angeles County, the highest peak in the San Gabriel range, and the third highest peak in Southern California. You will experience jaw-dropping views and hair-raising ridgeline trails that will make you question whether or not you’re really only an hour from L.
SANTA ANITA CANYON
Last but not least, Santa Anita Canyon is probably the most beautiful river canyon in Southern California. This stellar loop winds through a canyon dotted with historic cabins and two waterfalls, including 50-foot Sturtevant Falls. There are several campsites here and junctions with longer trails – and you won’t be able to believe you’re in Southern California.
If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.