60 Hikes within 60 Miles Los Angeles  by Laura Randall

60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Los Angeles Guide Book

by Laura Randall (Menasha Ridge Press)
60 Hikes within 60 Miles Los Angeles  by Laura Randall
The Santa Monica Mountains are probably the most popular and recognizable. Comprising more than 153,000 acres, the Santa Monica Recreation Area sprawls across the Hollywood Hills, Malibu, the San Fernando Valley, and the southwestern tip of Ventura County.

© 2016 Laura Randall/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Los Angeles" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 60.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 60.

This mostly flat hike begins along a paved service road with industrial views of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, then becomes increasingly bucolic as it follows a wide gurgling stream past several picnic area, thick groves of oak and sycamore, and big-leaf maple trees. The Gabrielino Trail is one of several in the Angeles National Forest designated as a multiuse national recreation trail. It follows the route of an original 1920s road that ran from Pasadena north up the canyon past wilderness resorts and old rustic cabins. The road lost its appeal after the Angeles Crest Highway was built, but today it has reinvented itself as a multiuse trail for hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and birders. This hike, known as the Arroyo Seco stretch, covers the well-maintained lower end of the Gabrielino Trail and features the part of the Arroyo Seco that doesn’t live up to its Spanish name of “dry riverbed.”
Pasadena, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
This low-profile trail off Mulholland Highway in the western Santa Monica Mountains crosses an open meadow, then weaves in and out of a gorge bursting with an impressive variety of wildflowers each spring. Naturalists estimate that the 155-acre park is home to more than 50 species of wildflowers, including Indian warrior, scarlet pitcher sage, monkey flower, deer weed, owl’s clover, bush sunflowers, and morning glory. It is best visited in the spring, when the wildflowers and views of chaparral-covered mountains dominate the trail.
Thousand Oaks, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
Following a well-maintained path to great city vistas, this accessible trail near Los Angeles International Airport is dotted with coastal sagebrush and prickly pear cactus. Immaculate picnic areas, several children’s playgrounds, and a lake stocked with catfish make this a nice place for an all-day family outing. It’s hard to believe that this pleasant, low-key trail was an active oil field in the first half of the twentieth century. There are several picnic areas, children’s playgrounds, a basketball court, and a landscaped lake that is home to dozens of ducks and catfish. A few dozen oil pumps still operate in the weed-covered hills south of the park, but the state-funded Baldwin Hills Conservancy hopes to eliminate them eventually and expand the recreation area to about 1,200 acres from its current 370.
Los Angeles, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2
This nearly 6-mile hike begins in a residential Glendale neighborhood and meanders across the easternmost side of the Verdugo Mountains. An elevation gain of 1,500 feet combines a good workout with striking panoramic views of Los Angeles, Glendale, and the San Gabriel Mountains to the north. Residents of Glendale, La Crescenta, and La Cañada–Flintridge use this picturesque trail on a regular basis, but any hiker will find it worth the drive.
Verdugo City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
Despite being sandwiched between the busy Pacific Coast Highway and a field of active oil derricks, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a valuable wetland that is considered one of the best birding spots in the state. Several miles of paved paths around a water inlet make this a haven not only for birders but also for power walkers and families.
Long Beach, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This hike follows a wide fire road that climbs 800 feet from the base of Brand Park in Glendale to the ridge of the Verdugo Mountains. Your reward is a lookout with sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley. In the winter and spring, a detour along a stream to the base of a waterfall adds another easy half-mile to the hike. Brand Park, at the base of the Verdugo Mountains in Glendale, is on the grounds of an estate known as El Mirador.
Burbank, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
This rugged yet accessible trail includes three famous peaks: Burbank, Cahuenga, and Mount Lee (home to the Hollywood sign). It’s a rough uphill trek but rewarding for its views and relatively quick route to one of Southern California’s most famous attractions. Many people opt to hike to the Hollywood sign via Bronson Canyon or Hollyridge on the southern side of Griffith Park. It’s a good choice, but this lesser-known single track trail off Barham Boulevard is also a great way to reach the famed letters—with fewer parking hassles and arguably even better views along the way. It begins above the Lake Hollywood reservoir at the end of Wonder View Drive. You can’t park on Wonder View, but there are usually plenty of spots on either side of Lake Hollywood Drive just below it.
Los Angeles, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
There’s not much in terms of scenery along this trail near one of L.A.’s busiest freeways, but its steady 700-foot elevation gain via switchbacks provides a good workout. It is also a popular link to Dirt Mulholland, a wide, no-cars path that leads to several major hiking destinations in the Santa Monica Mountains The Caballero Canyon Trail was around long before the nearby gated residential developments and landscaped Mulholland Gateway Park showed up. It’s a favorite Sierra Club hike in part because it leads to Dirt Mulholland, the 7-mile unpaved stretch of Mulholland Drive between Encino and Woodland Hills. From here, hikers can access the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail, Temescal Canyon, and other trails leading all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Today, more hikers seem to use the shiny new gateway park (it opened in 2000) to connect with other mountain trails, but Caballero Canyon still attracts its share of hikers, mountain bikers, and others who don’t want to pay the $3 parking fee at Mulholland Gateway Park.
Santa Monica, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
Serene hills and dramatic sandstone rock formations dominate the scenery of this uphill Santa Monica Mountains trail, which has an elevation gain of nearly 1,000 feet.
Thousand Oaks, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
Despite a confusing lack of signage, this hike is a hassle-free trek past open meadows, coastal sage scrub, and seasonal wildflowers. Some of the unmarked trails lead to 1,300-foot bluffs and wonderful ocean views that extend as far as the Channel Islands. Naturalists praise the park for its dozens of species of wildflowers, which include dove lupine, wild hyacinth, hummingbird sage, golden poppies, deerweed, sticky monkeyflower, and coastal lotus. On the other hand, the park is also home to many nonnative trees such as eucalyptus, Italian pine, Mediterranean palm, and New Zealand myoporum. Even in the fall and winter, this is a good place to hike because of the park’s stellar clifftop ocean views.
Malibu, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.3
Tucked in an upscale residential community behind Descanso Gardens in La Cañada– Flintridge, this winding, peaceful hike takes you all over the chaparral-covered San Rafael Hills. Rarely crowded, it is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Cherry Canyon Park can be found in the hills just behind Descanso Gardens, a popular destination known for its abundant displays of camillias, roses, and other flowers (see Nearby Activities).
Montrose, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
This accessible 2.4-mile hike begins directly across the street from Dan Blocker State Beach in Malibu. It has a moderate elevation gain of 500 feet and wide-open views of the Pacific Ocean. Combine it with a visit to Malibu Seafood, a popular beachfront eatery next to the trailhead, and you’ve got a perfect southern California day trip. After hitting the trail, you can indulge in a delicious lunch of fresh fish or take a cool dip in the ocean that you just admired from the hills. Look for the trailhead at the southeast end of the parking lot, and follow the path as it descends into a thick forest of oak and willow trees. Soon you’ll cross a pocket of coastal salt marsh and a seasonal river that flows into the ocean to your right.
Malibu, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.25
This low-maintenance hike winds through an oakshaded forest and the remnants of the park’s heyday as a movie set, then follows a loop trail past dramatic sandstone rock formations. It’s perfect for small children and out-of-town visitors who happen to be movie buffs.
Simi Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.7
Bring lots of sunscreen for this tranquil, treeless hike through coastal sage scrub, grassland, and wildflower-covered hills. Crystal Cove State Park consists of 2,200 acres of campsites and hiking, bicycling, and horsebackriding trails. For years, it was used by the San Juan Capistrano Mission as grazing land for livestock. The land was sold to agriculture pioneer James Irvine in 1964. The trailhead for El Moro Canyon starts just beyond the stop sign at the park’s entrance next to El Morro Elementary School. This is a good, mostly flat hike on its own, or you can use it to access other steeper trails within Crystal Cove State Park.
Laguna Beach, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.7
This meticulously maintained park in the northernmost section of Glendale is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. The hike described here ascends 700 feet to a shady streambed, then loops around to terrific views of the Verdugo Mountains and the foothill communities of La Crescenta and Tujunga. The park is also used to access Mount Lukens, the highest peak within Los Angeles city limits, via the Crescenta View or Rim of the Valley Trail. It is bordered on the north, west, and east sides by the Angeles National Forest. To get to the Dunsmore Canyon Trail, follow the paved fire road north of the parking lot.
Burbank, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
This out-and-back follows a moderate singletrack path to stunning views of a bowl-shaped gorge formed by the collision of three earthquake faults millions of years ago. Green and snowcapped in winter, the San Gabriel Mountains add a dramatic border to the park’s stark white cliffs and tortured terrain. The 1.2-mile loop trail near the nature center is a gentler introduction to the area and great for small children and those in a hurry.
Los Angeles, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.4
This very popular trail parallels a seasonal stream and leads to the foot of a 30-foot waterfall and swimming hole. The last 0.5 mile requires some scrambling over boulders. Those looking for more solitude can opt for the more strenuous 7-mile round-trip trail to Henninger Flats or tackle both trails for an all-day adventure. Before setting out, stop at the nature center for a trail map and a guide to the canyon’s native plants, which include honeysuckle, laurel sumac, toyon, yucca, prickly pear cactus, and matilija poppy. From the far northern end of the parking lot, walk around a fire-road gate and head north toward a landscaped picnic area. You’ll glimpse some private homes on your left.
Pasadena, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
This hike begins with a gradual ascent past chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and seasonal wildflowers; peaks at a viewpoint with spectacular mountain and valley views; and then descends into a canyon past a small creek that still seeps natural oil from the park’s days as an oil production facility. A steep 200-yard uphill detour to a viewpoint with panoramic vistas of the Santa Clarita Valley puts this in the strenuous category.
Los Angeles, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
A mix of paved road and rugged dirt path, this hike through L.A.’s oldest park leads to a blufftop recreation area with sweeping views of Dodger Stadium and the San Gabriel Mountains. The 600-acre Elysian Park, which includes Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Police Academy, is the city’s oldest park and second only in size to Griffith Park. Birders also frequent the park; recent sightings include redtailed hawks, Western bluebirds, a black-headed grosbeak, and Lucy’s warbler. On weekends, the park is full of picnicking families, exercise hounds, and nature lovers. If there happens to be a home baseball game, the area is even livelier; just try to plan your visit so it doesn’t coincide with the beginning or end of a game, or you will likely find yourself caught in a massive traffic jam. The first time I hiked Elysian Park, I showed up without a plan, figuring the trail system was small enough to make that unnecessary. In reality, the park has many and varied trails spread over its 600 acres. A couple of trail maps are posted within the park, but it’s hard to get a sense of how long or difficult they are.
Los Angeles, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
Yellow wildflowers and birds dominate this easy loop trail in the spring. It’s a popular jogging path year-round, but it never seems overcrowded. A small secluded garden with a bench can be found at the midway point. The 600-acre Elysian Park is the city’s oldest park and second only in size to Griffith Park. No stranger to controversy, the park saw three of its communities uprooted to make room for Dodger Stadium in 1950, and later it was divided in half by the Pasadena Freeway. Still, it’s a great place for a solitary run or hike, though its lack of good trail maps can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the area. Birders also frequent the park; recent sightings include red-tailed hawks, western bluebirds, a black-headed grosbeak, and Lucy’s warbler. On weekends, the park is full of picnicking families, exercise hounds, and nature lovers. If there happens to be a home baseball game, the area is even livelier; try to plan your visit so it doesn’t coincide with the beginning or end of a game, or you will likely find yourself caught in a massive traffic jam.
Los Angeles, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5