Most people who live in Los Angeles don’t seem to know how easy it is to go hiking. Sure, they know about Runyon Canyon. (We all know about Runyon Canyon, as the crowds and lack of parking will confirm.) Some of them even know about Fryman Canyon or that they can hike to the Hollywood sign. But for most people, that’s it. Which makes me pretty sad, because in my opinion those are three of the most boring hikes LA has to offer.
Meanwhile, I spend a lot of my weekends in areas that look like they’re in a completely different state. But rest assured, I’m not driving to Oregon every weekend. I’m honestly not driving that far at all when you consider how long it takes to get anywhere in this city (so… usually between 30 and 90 minutes). So where am I hiking? And how am I finding all these secret, majestic trails?
The answer to the first question is simple. My favorite place to hike is undoubtedly Angeles National Forest, but the Santa Monica Mountains are nice too. They also offer up some very different views and surroundings. The second question is a bit more complex. If I’m being honest, my friend Katie picks out most of the hikes we go on. So the easiest way to find cool hikes is probably to befriend Katie and ask her if she wants to go hiking. But if that’s not an option, turn to the internet. Though there are tons of resources available, my favorite sites for planning hikes are Modern Hiker, Hikespeak and AllTrails.
But if you don’t feel like doing a bunch of research beyond just reading this post, fear not, cause I’m about to post a bunch of pictures of my favorite hikes along with links that’ll help you navigate them.
I’ve hiked this trail a few times now. It’s about 5 miles and is awesome in that it’s got snow during the winter (as you can see below), but it’s also got really cool rock formations up at the top, so no matter what time of year you go, you’re bound to find something unique.
This is a challenging hike. The path up to the top is steep, with switchbacks all the way up. Oh, and it’s about 9 miles. But it’s also super rewarding. The views at the top are breathtaking, but the clouds that tend to roll through the trail make the forested path look like some kind of a witch’s lair. And I love a good witch lair.
The panoramic views at the top of Josephine Peak are straight up gorgeous. It’s about 8 miles round trip, but because it’s a fire road it’s not too strenuous.
This spot is special to me. Believe it or not, it’s actually where Ben and I got our engagement pictures taken! As in we scaled those rocks in a dress and a suit. Sentimental value aside, this place it dope. I love how unique the geography here is, and the views are pretty magical as well. There’s a quick 1 mile loop trail, but you can also forego the trail to just climb around on the rocks.
I love this 5 mile trail for how lush and green it always is. When dry, it’s a great hike for a beginner, however, if it rained recently, you may need to cross several streams, which can be a bit of a challenge even for more experienced hikers. There’s also a bunch of cute cabins along the path, which is are always fun to look at!
This 6 mile loop in the Santa Monica Mountains is absolutely gorgeous. The views make it one of my favorites, but if you’re lucky, during spring you’ll also get to see tons of wildflowers!
This 4 mile trail is one of the more unique around in that it’s also got a rich history. The trail ends at an abandoned gold mine, which is pretty cool to explore. Word of warning, though: while I don’t think it’s being monitored, if something’s blocked off, it’s probably not wise to sneak through. Don’t put yourself in danger for the sake of adventure.
Sunset Peak is another fire road. It’s a lax 8 miles, but at the top of the trail you’ll see a giant rusty metal surface. I’m not sure what it was originally for, but it’s pretty dang photogenic.
And that’s it! I hope you found this post helpful. If you’re an LA hiker, leave a comment with your favorite local hike. I’d love to check it out!