Straddling the San Andreas Fault, Los Angeles County has endured the earth’s movements that have shaped a diverse and dramatic topography. From the coast to the mountains, which reach 10,000 feet, there are hundreds of hiking trails which offer a wonderful variety and are surprisingly and conveniently located right in or near the city. In my opinion, hiking in the winter and spring is best because of the weather and potential for beautiful wildflowers. Just beware in the spring, especially if you’re hiking with a man’s best friend, as rattle snakes are just waking up from their long winter nap. The chances of them bothering you are slim when you stick to the marked trails and don’t step on any of them. Also, on hot dry days in the summer and fall, you may want to think about hiking early in the day or in the evening and be sure to find out about any fire dangers in the area.
Here are some of our favorites:
Runyon Canyon – Located one mile from the center of Hollywood lies Runyon Canyon. There are a few options on this hike, but all relatively easy. This is a popular spot for locals to get out and enjoy the great outdoors without having to leave Los Angeles at all. Of course local residents include lots of Hollywood stars. If you know your stars, your chances of spotting some here are pretty good. The hike is a beautiful one (especially during the winter and spring before the dry, hot days take over) affording fantastic views of the famed Hollywood sign and of the L.A. skyline. This land was once part of the grounds of a mansion which has since been razed, so you’ll notice remnants from the past such as the paved driveway, abandoned tennis courts and plants which were once part of the landscaped grounds of the area. You can start at Mulholland Drive, at Cahuenga Pass, and hike down or start at the bottom (at Fuller Avenue or Vista Street) and hike up. The hike can range anywhere from 1 to 3 miles.
Fryman Canyon – I like to begin this hike just off Laurel Canyon Boulevard at the dirt parking lot on Fryman Road in Studio City. While you walk uphill through the Hollywood Hills, you’ll see great views of the expansive San Fernando Valley. You can opt for a longer hike near the top heading towards Mulholland Drive. However, a nice and shorter route will loop you around back to the dirt parking lot. There are shady parts of the trail thanks to oak and eucalyptus trees as well as more open space filled with wildflowers. Part of this land was also once home to a movie star. The mansion is no longer there, but the paved roadway on the beginning of the trail was once the driveway to the home. You can also see parts of the foundation at one point. Follow the dirt path downhill to Iredell Street. Walk through this pleasant neighborhood where George Clooney owns a home and turn left on Fryman Road. A short ways down the road you’ll recognize the start point.
Paramount Ranch – I like this one as it is a good mix of Hollywood and nature. The trail is unique as there is an old western town set called Western Town which has been used in many t.v. shows and films from the 50s and 60s as well as today. Behind Western Town is an easy, half mile trail known as Coyote Trail. There are also about 4 miles of other options as well. You can catch glimpses of Goat Buttes and Sugarloaf Peak which are both made up of Conejo Volcanics. Sugarloaf Peak is rumored to be the inspiration for the mountain in the Paramount Pictures logo. In the springtime, you’ll certainly also see oodles of beautiful wildflowers.
Topanga Canyon Overlook (a.k.a. Parker Mesa Overlook) – This is a nice and a bit more challenging hike with unbelievable vistas and colorful wildflowers. The vistas are best on clear days of course and the wildflowers best in the springtime. This is a longer hike, but well worth it for the views of the Pacific and the canyons, the fresh air and the nice variety of native plant life. There is a parking lot you can find to start the hike, but I recommend heading up .3 miles from the Pacific Coast Highway to turn onto a street called Paseo Miramar. Drive up to the end of the road and park for free in a beautiful neighborhood with bougainvillea-adorned, Spanish-style homes. The hike is about 5 miles round-trip.