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

By Eric Rosen
July 15, 2020
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Griffith Hills Park hiking trail and view of Los Angeles city from Hollywood Hills.
Credit: Getty Images

You won’t find many people walking around L.A., but the City of Angels actually has hundreds of miles of hiking paths, 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 trails. 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.

Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon park hollywood hill hike trail view
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Thanks to its location near the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 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.
Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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 the 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 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 Los Angeles Basin is the real draw.

Solstice Canyon Trail, Malibu

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 end point 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 offers a few hiking options. You can take the gentler Temescal Canyon Trail through a forested valley with a babbling brook. Or, 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 path 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

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 high-desert landscape to get there. Start early so you don’t get caught in the afternoon heat.