The 50 Essential Hiking Trails in Los Angeles

Get up, get out

Hiking is almost a rite of passage in L.A. Whether you’re native born or a transplant, a nature fiend or an indoor kid, hitting one of the city’s many trails at one point or another is unavoidable. In the name of embracing the thigh-grinders, the casual jaunts, the ones with perfect ocean views, and everything in between, here are 50 incredible treks you can’t miss:

1. Bronson Canyon 

Griffith Park

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With views of three major Hollywood landmarks (the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, and Bronson Cave), this trail is basically a slightly sweatier version of the Starline bus tour. Griffith Park is famed for its views of the Hollywood Sign, but take the path to Bronson Canyon to check out the tunnel entrance of the ’60s era Batcave. The cave was even the home of a pop-up ice cream parlor last weekend. The canyon also delivers a stunning view of the Griffith Observatory, which appeared in the classic James Dean film Rebel Without A Cause.

 

2. The Wisdom Tree and Cahuenga Peak 

Hollywood Hills

The three-mile loop is tame, but don’t underestimate the 1,821 foot elevation—bring water. Be sure to visit the Wisdom Tree at the top, rumored to have been the sole survivor of a wildfire in 2007. The tree is so photogenic; it even has its own Instagram account. Hikers looking to extend the trail can continue on to the Hollywood Sign at the peak, and the less zealous have an easy, downhill return.

 

3. The Grotto Trail

Malibu

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The standing water that gives the trail this name might be low, but the surrounding geography is as gorgeous as ever: towering boulders, shady nooks, and a few friendly frogs. The hike isn’t dauntingly difficult, but visitors should expect to get a bit dirty and sweaty scrambling over rocks inside the grotto. The lopsided climb makes descending a breeze, but the return trip is mostly uphill. Pro tip: Park at the nearby Circle X Ranch campground.

4. Wilacre Park

Studio City

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The dog-friendly trail is popular with locals for its free parking and moderate incline, making it the perfect addition to your weekend hike rotation. When you reach a fork in the trail, go right for a quick hike or left for the more challenging (and scenic) route. In addition to local fauna, the trail is also home to a few Pokémon and doubles as a Pokéstop. In other words, it’s the perfect place to hatch a few eggs and expand your Pokédex.

 

5. Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

Ladera Heights

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Most scenic L.A. hikes provide views of the ocean or Griffith Observatory, but these trails provide a stunning view of downtown. The area is the regular home of regional cross-country races, giving it good workout cred. Additionally, the park itself is well stocked with attractions like picnic areas, running paths, and a Japanese garden.

6. Los Liones Canyon 

Pacific Palisades

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Ocean views and the refreshing Malibu breeze make this less-traveled hiking spot one of the most picturesque on the Westside. The 1.5 mile Los Liones trail is the perfect pre-brunch hike, but visitors looking to get in a good workout can do the seven-mile loop to the Parker Mesa Overlook.

 

7. Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu

Easily accessible rock pools make Malibu Creek one of L.A.’s best loved hikes, and for good reason. New hikers just need to follow the stream and the happy shouts of jumping hikers—diving is technically forbidden but still common. The trail continues on to Century Lake, the setting of a couple scenes from the 1968 Planet of the Apes film, for a pleasant 5.7 mile loop.

 

8. Trail Canyon Falls

Tujunga

Big Tujunga Creek is a major tributary of the L.A. River, streaming through the steep canyon walls of the San Gabriel Mountains to reach the Pacific Ocean. The connecting falls, nestled in the Angeles National Forest, are one of L.A.’s best kept secrets. A fire road is quickly transformed into a tree-shaded mountain pass that becomes quite steep and narrow as the falls approach. Keep an eye out for snakes, as they are occasionally spotted on the trail.

 

9. Switzer Falls

La Canada Flintridge

The rain has transformed the Angeles National Forest, making the foliage flourish and water stream down the fifty-foot falls. Keep your feet dry by using logs to cross the small creeks that stud the dog-friendly trail, and be sure to wear sensible shoes to avoid slipping. Start at the Switzer Falls Picnic Area in Colby Canyon, then head down the Gabrielino Trail about two miles to reach the waterfall. A $5 Adventure Pass is required for parking.

 

10. Fern Dell Hiking Trail

Griffith Park

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Nestled inside Griffith Park, this tree-lined trail is ideal for adventurers of all ages. The recent rainfall has made the area’s plentiful vegetation impossibly lush, giving a fairy tale quality to the wooden footbridges and tiny waterfalls that line the path. Traversing the trail doesn’t take long, but the plentiful park benches, giant ferns, and koi ponds make lingering a pleasure. Consider it the perfect urban oasis.

 

11. Paradise Falls

Thousand Oaks

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A 2.5 mile loop winds past a teepee and small cave to reach the forty-foot waterfall that gives Paradise Falls its name. The water quality is too poor for swimming, but the falls feed into a rock grotto that acts as an excellent spot to sit and take in the view. Extend your hike by continuing on to nearby Lizard Rock, where a fairly steep incline results in impressive views of Wildwood Regional Park.

 

12. Newton Canyon Falls

Malibu

 

13. Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak and Tri Peaks

Santa Monica Mountains

The seven-mile loop takes hikers up the Backbone Trail past fields of wildflowers to the top of Sandstone peak. It’s gorgeous but strenuous, so don’t underestimate the climb. Nestled high in the Santa Monica Mountains, the summit holds a registry where successful hikers leave their names and (sometimes) witty trail commentary.

 

14. Temescal Canyon Park

Pacific Palisades

 

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Make it to the top of Temescal Canyon’s winding trails and your prize is a panoramic view of Los Angeles. On a clear day, the hike up to Skull Rock will reward you with vistas of the ocean and the westside.

 

15. Bridge to Nowhere

San Gabriel Mountains

 

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The almost-ten mile trail follows the San Gabriel River through spiky yucca plants and hot, rocky mountains to reach the giant Bridge to Nowhere—a failed government project turned bungee jumping destination. The hike can be punishing, so start early to avoid a wave of afternoon heat.

16. Ernest E Debs Regional Park

Monterey Hills

 

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No need to leave your pup at home on a trip to Debs, where manageable inclines and shady spots make for an especially canine friendly jaunt. The on-site pond is ideal for a game of water-logged fetch.

 

17. Fish Canyon Narrows

Angeles National Forest

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18. Mount Lowe Railway

Altadena

 

19. La Jolla Valley

Point Mugu 

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20. East Canyon Trail

Santa Susana Mountains

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 21. Cooper Canyon

Angeles National Forest

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22. Sandstone Peak

Santa Monica Mountains

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At 3,111 feet, Sandstone Peak is the tallest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. The summit can be reached via a 6.25-mile loop with 1,075 feet of elevation gain that offers expansive views of the range. Forty minutes from Santa Monica, you will feel like you are embarking on a true adventure.

 

23. Griffith Park

Hollywood Hills

 

24. Stunt High Trail

Santa Monica Mountains

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25. Mount Baldy

San Gabriel Mountains 

 

26. Griffith Observatory West Trail Loop 

Griffith Park

Dogs are welcome in the Griffith Park and West Trail Loop. There is a quaint picnic area at the base where you can relax with friends and have lunch before taking off on the path to the top, where you’ll enjoy views of the city and observatory.

 

27. Palisades Park

Santa Monica


If there was a ‘see and be seen’ place for dogs, this would be it. Whether it’s early in the morning or the sun is setting, there is never a shortage of dogs walking, running or hanging out with their owners. There are also meet-up groups and social gatherings where dogs can get together and play.

 

28. Santa Monica Beach and South Bay Bike Path

Santa Monica

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Quintessential Southern California, this path will take you from Santa Monica through the oddities of Venice Beach all the way to Marina Del Rey. The only caveat: At the start of the path in Santa Monica, you will be sharing road with bikers, roller bladers, walkers, and runners.

 

29. LMU Running Trail

Los Angeles

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This unknown trail offers runners and walkers a little serenity from the city only a short drive away. Right off Lincoln Boulevard, this dirt trail provides views of Playa Vista and the ocean. Since it’s never crowded, dogs are mostly found off-leash running the trail with their owners.

 

30. California Coastal Trail

You can hop on and off this trail anywhere along the coast of California. As south as San Diego, and as north as Del Norte, you can see great ocean views throughout the state. If you’re just planning on a day-hike in L.A., the best places to pick the trail up are in Malibu and Santa Monica.

 

31. Mural Mile

Pacoima City

Throughout a three mile radius in Pacoima City, you can see over 50 murals done by local artists. Take a stroll and and admire the art that now defines the area.

 

32. The Arroyo Seco and Rose Bowl Loop

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The Arroyo is an 11 mile hike starting in the San Gabriel mountains. To do the whole thing, you better be up to the challenge of steep heights. But if you just want a casual day-hike, go straight to the Rose Bowl loop in the middle of the trail. This 3.1 mile section is perfect for walking the dog, and taking a simple stroll.

 

33. Parks of Frogtown

Also known as Elysian Valley, Frogtown is home to a quaint trail used mainly by those in the neighborhood. The hike offers heights and great views of the Valley and downtown, and is still an easy trip.

 

34. Escondido Canyon

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Leached dogs are welcome on this 4.2 mile hike, as are mountain bikers and equestrians.

 

35. Hermosa Valley Greenbelt

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Take a 3.5 mile trek from Redondo beach to Manhattan beach. Walking, jogging and biking welcome. The trail is also handicap accessible.

 

36. Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

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If you’re looking for a hike up north, this San Fran trail will provide views and a bit of history.

37. Backbone Trail

This trail through the Santa Monica mountains is long, but you can stop at any point to pick it up for a day. Dogs on leashes welcome.

38. Corriganville Park

San Fernando Valley

Families and kids will enjoy the 1.2 mile trail along a sandstone rock outcropping. Make sure to check out the hummingbird trail.

39. Mount Baden-Powell Trail

San Gabriel Mountains

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This trail is for serious hikers. Trek the 8.9 mile trail and enjoy the scenery of beautiful wild flowers from March – October. Dogs allowed.

40. Charmlee Wilderness Park

Malibu

Hike near the coast at Charmlee Wilderness Park, a 590-acre reserve overlooking the pacific.  This 8 mile trail is sure to have something for hikers of all levels.

41. Franklin Canyon Park

Beverly Hills

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Centered between Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley this trail-seeker wonderland offers beauty and accessibility. Visitors can check out the duck pond which is wheelchair accessible.

42. Stoney Point Park

Chatsworth

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Located off the 118 fwy check out this rock climbers paradise. Massive boulders come together to form caves and grooves that will keep you exploring for hours.

43. Seascape Trail

Palos Verdes

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Hike near coastal bluffs at this family-friendly trail. Don’t worry about elevation change, this beginner level trail only descends 40 feet from the main trail to the coast.

44. Solstice Canyon Loop Trails 

Malibu

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This trail is perfect for hiking, walking and trail running. Considered a moderate trail, make sure to make it to the waterfall. Dogs allowed.

45. Santa Monica Boardwalk

Santa Monica

This gem of a trail is perfect for couples. Cross the 3.3 mile trail and enjoy a drink from one of the local shops along the boardwalk.

 

46. Sara Wan Trailhead

Malibu

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Located on a 1,000-acre reserve, Sara Wan offers several options including picnic areas, hiking trails and an educational center.

47. Zuma Canyon Ocean View Trail

Malibu

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If the appeal of an ocean-side hike isn’t enough to get you going, what if we said you can bring your pup, too? Zuma Canyon Ocean View Trail offers a single track trail and steep inclines. Make sure to stretch before tackling this beast.

48. Point Dume Cove Trail

Santa Monica


Love wild flowers? Then this trail is for you. Designated as easy-peasy this 1.4 mile trail is all about enjoying the scenery.

49. Paseo Miramar Trail

Pacific Palisades

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This moderate trail offers 5 miles of scenic glory. Tucked in the quiet city of Pacific Palisades trek this trail with your special someone. Or alone. Alone is fine.

50. Tuna Canyon Park Trail 

Santa Monica

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Coming in at a whopping 1,255 acres of preserved land, Tuna Canyon Trails is relatively unknown to most hikers. The main trailhead is 1.6 miles and branches off into several trails varying in difficulty. Tuna Canyon Park has something for trail-seekers of all levels.

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