The 7 Essential L.A. Hikes You Have to Try

You may have to sweat a bit for the pay off, but it’s worth it

September is one of the best months to hike in L.A. The summer tourists are gone, but warm weather remains, providing intrepid hikers with the ideal conditions to enjoy a good weekend workout. While plenty of hikes are better than Runyon, these seven routes provide truly classic views.

Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park

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.

Fish Canyon Falls in Duarte

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This trail is home to the twin oases of L.A.: free parking and running water. The water level is dependent on rainfall, so don’t expect anything Niagara-status (#droughtlife). However, the four-part falls are some of the best in the San Gabriel Mountains after a good storm—and are pretty even at low water levels. The trail loop runs about five miles at a fairly mild difficulty level, although the narrow trail can be a bit nerve wracking for novices. Keep an eye out for poison oak—long pants are recommended.

The Wisdom Tree and Cahuenga Peak in 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.

The Grotto Trail in 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.

Wilacre Park in 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.

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in 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.

Los Liones Canyon in 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.