15 Best Hiking Trails in Los Angeles for Incredible Views of Waterfalls, Canyons, and Mountains

You don't have to go far to experience the best of nature right in the heart of Los Angeles County.

Griffith Hills Park hiking trail and view of Los Angeles city from Hollywood Hills.
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You won't find many people walking around L.A., but the City of Angels and its surrounding areas, all within Los Angeles County, are actually home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, ranging from mellow meanders to high-intensity workouts. When you need a break from the beach or the city's notorious traffic, head to one of these paths. From a tranquil trek through a hidden canyon to a quick morning or evening jaunt for picture-perfect panoramas over the city, there's an option to suit every interest and skill level. Here's a look at the best hiking trails in Los Angeles.

Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon park hollywood hill hike trail view
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Thanks to its location in the Hollywood Hills, this narrow ravine is a favorite among celebrities (and their dogs). You can enter via gates near Hollywood Boulevard to the south or Mulholland Drive to the north, and opt for either paved roads or dirt paths, depending on the route you take. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Catalina Island and past downtown in one direction and the entire length of the San Fernando Valley in the other.

Charlie Turner Trail, Griffith Park

A group organized by City of Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge doing the Fall Equinox hiker on the Charlie Turner trail at Griffith Park. This is an annual event that starts at the Observatory and ends at Mount Hollywood.
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One of the largest municipal parks in the country, Griffith Park has plenty of trails for horses and humans — not to mention attractions like the Art Deco Griffith Observatory. Take the family-friendly Mount Hollywood Trail, or Charlie Turner Trail, from there and pause for shade in Berlin Forest or the native plant garden at Dante's View, where there's also a water fountain for refills. From there, it's just a quick quarter-mile trudge uphill for one of the best views of the iconic Hollywood sign.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
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If you're short on time or have an extra half-hour on your way to or from the airport, stop at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Choose between a pulse-pounding jog up a zigzagging trail or a steep staircase to the 500-foot peak of Baldwin Hills. You might even spot wildflowers and native birds along the way, but the sweeping vista of the entire L.A. Basin is the real draw that makes this one of the best hiking trails in Los Angeles.

Solstice Canyon Trail, Malibu

Solstice Canyon Trail in Malibu, California
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Malibu is known for its sophisticated surf culture and expensive real estate, but up in the hills lies this secluded gulch with options for easy, middling, or rigorous treks through the windblown coastal scrublands. The most popular (and gentlest) is the 2.6-mile Solstice Canyon Trail, which is flat enough to walk in flip-flops and shaded by towering sycamores and oaks. The route passes by the remains of a hunting cabin built over a century ago and the ruins of a house designed by African American architect Paul Revere Williams in 1952 — he also designed the LAX Theme Building. The endpoint is a trickling waterfall that runs through several rock pools and into a creek.

Temescal Ridge Trail, Pacific Palisades

A hiking trail lines with lush green grasses and leading through a tunnel of chappral in Temescal Canyon during the spring growth following the winter rain season. In the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California.
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Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, just up from the Pacific Coast Highway, Temescal Canyon Park offers a few hiking options. You can take the gentler Temescal Canyon Trail through a forested valley with a babbling brook, but if you want to take advantage of one of the best viewpoints in California, hit the more strenuous Temescal Ridge Trail. The steep ascent has a few switchbacks and passes the ghoulish Skull Rock sandstone formation on the way to a panorama of Santa Monica Bay, complete with heavenly ocean breezes. Come late in the day for an Instagram-worthy sunset.

Eaton Canyon Falls, Altadena

Eaton Canyon Stream Running Alongside Eaton Falls Trail Hike In Pasadena Near Los Angeles
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This Altadena trail is perennially popular with families because it's easy enough to navigate even with small children in tow. The approximately three-mile out-and-back path, easily one of the best hiking trails in Los Angeles, crosses boulder-strewn canyons and several streams (so wear appropriate footwear) to a misty 40-foot waterfall that cascades into a tidy little pond. Have a pooch? Leashed dogs are also allowed.

Bridge to Nowhere, Azusa

Bridge to Nowhere LA
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It's a bit of a, well, hike, to get to this trail out by Azusa, but it's well worth it for oddity aficionados. The slender span that arches across this rugged ravine was originally built in 1936 to link to a road that was later washed out in the great flood of 1938. Only the bridge remains today. Unlike some of the other hikes in and around Los Angeles, this one tends to be sparsely trafficked, thanks to the fact that you have to walk 10 miles through the high-desert landscape to get there. Start early so you don't get caught in the afternoon heat.

Vasquez Rocks Trail, Agua Dulce

Vasquez Rocks Trail

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If you’re wondering why the otherworldly rock formations along the Vasquez Rocks Trail look familiar, it’s because they've been featured in a ton of movies and TV shows — “Blazing Saddles,” “Galaxy Quest,” and “Planet of the Apes,” as well as several episodes of Bonanza, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and Star Trek, to name a few. This 2.7-mile loop trail is open year-round and takes about an hour to complete. The 932-acre natural area it sits in is known for hiking and horseback riding, as well as birding, trail running, and camping — leashed dogs are welcome to come, too. Don’t forget to stop by the Nature Center to learn more about the area’s unique geology, Indigenous history, flora and fauna, and other archaeological finds.

Elysian Park West Loop Trail, Los Angeles

Elysian Park West Loop Trail

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If you’re not venturing far from Downtown L.A. this trip, head to the Elysian Park West Loop Trail, located in Elysian Park, just north of Dodger Stadium. The beginner-friendly 2.3-mile loop, which takes about an hour to stroll at a leisurely pace, is popular with walkers, runners, and the leashed dogs who love them. The route takes you along the western edge of the park, through a lovely forest of fragrant eucalyptus trees, with views overlooking the Golden State Freeway — and on a clear day, beyond that to the San Gabriel Mountains and L.A. River.

Corral Canyon Loop Trail, Malibu

The Corral Canyon Loop Trail in Malibu, California

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In Malibu, the Corral Canyon Loop Trail offers a moderately challenging 2.5-mile hike through Corral Canyon Park’s 1,000-acre wilderness, offering dramatic views of both the mountains and Pacific Ocean. You’ll also pass through part of the 700-acre Cameron Nature Preserve at Puerco Canyon during your scenic journey down the marine terrace and along a coastal bluff that’s home to coast live oak, alder, willow, and California sycamore trees. Bring your (leashed) fur baby along on this inspiring walk through the woods, and leave some time for a pre- or post-hike picnic at the Sara Wan Trailhead, where you'll find plenty of benches and educational information.

Escondido Falls Trail, Malibu

Escondido Canyon Trail, Malibu

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The 3.8-mile out-and-back Escondido Falls Trail isn’t as tough as you think. Sure, it starts with a 0.75-mile uphill climb past some of the fanciest homes in Malibu, but once you hit the 200-foot mark, it descends a bit as you enter Escondido Canyon Park and make your way toward one of the state’s prettiest waterfalls. You’ll meander along a dirt trail through fields and forests and have to cross a creek or two before you reach Lower Escondido Falls. Be sure to visit toward the beginning of the year if you can, as that’s when the waterfall flows the strongest. During the drier months, there’s barely a trickle.

Sam Merrill Trail, Altadena

Echo Mountain, Sam Merrill Trail, Altadena

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Just 30 minutes north of Downtown L.A. in Altadena, the Sam Merrill Trail begins its long and winding 5.5-mile out-and-back journey to the top of Echo Mountain, offering a roughly three-hour hike that’s considered to be moderately challenging, mostly due to its 1,417-foot elevation gain. Originally created to reach the ruins of the once-grand Echo Mountain House, which opened in 1894 and was destroyed by a fire in 1900, the well-maintained trail takes you high above Altadena, offering gorgeous views of Pasadena and the rest of the city that make it all worth the effort. You’ll also walk along what used to be the Mt. Lowe Railway, which once carried guests to and from the lodge over a century ago. Read the historical markers, explore the ruins, and enjoy the view from the top before making your return trip.

Paseo Miramar Trail, Pacific Palisades

Paseo Miramar to Parker Mesa Overlook, Pacific Palisades

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If you’re up for a challenge, the five-mile out-and-back hike along the Paseo Miramar Trail to the Parker Mesa Overlook provides just that, with a steep 1,236-foot elevation gain that rewards you with stunning views of Malibu, Santa Monica, and the Pacific Palisades area. Clocking in at just under three hours round-trip, the dirt and gravel trail offers almost no cover from the sun, so come prepared with plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen. Parking can be difficult on weekends, so try and go during the week if you can, and leave your beloved pooch at home, as dogs aren’t allowed.

Switzer Falls, Angeles National Forest

Switzer Falls, Gabrielino Trail, Angeles National Forest

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One of the most popular hiking trails in Los Angeles, the hike to Switzer Falls along a portion of the Gabrielino Trail begins at the Switzer Picnic Site, which can be quite crowded, so plan to get there early. Note that you’ll need to have a National Forest Adventure Pass or a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands annual pass to park near the trailhead. The trail crosses a small stream at several points (so expect to get your feet wet) and leads down to the Lower Falls, where you can take a dip. From there, it’s a bit of an off-trail scramble to the Upper Falls, 50 feet higher. Either way, take some time to enjoy this beautiful spot in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Portuguese Bend Reserve, Rancho Palos Verdes

Portuguese Bend Reserve, Rancho Palos Verdes

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About 40 minutes south of Downtown L.A., the Portuguese Bend Reserve, a sprawling 399-acre green space in Rancho Palos Verdes, is home to some of the most scenic hiking trails in Los Angeles. Enjoy views of nearby Catalina Island and the blue waters of the Pacific from your choice of beginner and family-friendly hikes, more strenuous trails, or something in between, depending on how steep of a climb you’re looking for. Whichever one you choose, be aware that you’ll likely be sharing it with other hikers, walkers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and people on horseback.

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