Los Angeles County A Day Hikerand39;s Guide  by John McKinney

Los Angeles County: A Day Hiker's Guide Guide Book

by John McKinney (The Trailmaster)
Los Angeles County A Day Hikerand39;s Guide  by John McKinney
The best day hikes in L.A. County: safely discover the region’s most compelling parks, preserves and special places with easy-to-follow maps and clear directions. Hit the trail to improved health as you share a fun and uplifting activity in the natural world with your friends and family. Save time and money and reduce your fuel costs by learning about the wide range of hiking experiences available so surprisingly close to home. The author’s colorful stories and proven trail accounts will help you select – and take – a quality hike you are guaranteed to like.

© 2006 John McKinney/The Trailmaster. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Los Angeles County: A Day Hiker's Guide" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 156.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 156.

Abalone Cove offers the hiker a fine sampling of the pleasures of the PV shoreline: tidepools, sandy beaches and dramatic 180-foot high bluffs laced with trails. The excellent vistas from the top of the bluffs include Sacred (Smugglers) Cove and Inspiration Point, Catalina Island and the wide blue Pacific, and inland to the Portuguese Bend landslide zone. Mile-long Abalone Cove Shoreline Park boasts two beaches—East Beach, a sandy beach at the east end of the cove and Upper Beach, an artificially raised rocky and sandy beach created in the 1930s for a resort hotel, whose former clubhouse now serves as a lifeguard facility. An ecological reserve protects the rich tidepools and offshore kelp beds.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
Thirteen-mile long Verdugo Fire Road, sometimes called Backbone Road, travels almost the whole length of the Verdugos. It traverses the spine of the range and offers grand mountain and city views. The west-east walk described below is more difficult than traversing the mountains from east to west. By all means, feel free to hike the Verdugos from either direction.
Burbank, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13
Many veteran Griffith Park hikers have devised their own special ’round-the-park routes and, with more than 50 miles of trail weaving through the park, the scenic options are numerous. One of my favorite ways to go is a counter-clockwise circuit that begins and ends at Ferndell. This grande randonée of Griffith visits, or provides good vistas of, most of the park’s most favorite attractions: Mt. Hollywood, the Hollywood sign, the Observatory, Greek Theater, the Zoo and much more. The café at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum (open Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday), located at about the midpoint of this hike, is a good place to stop for lunch.
Glendale, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13
“My secrets to a healthy and happy life . . . ” the late Amir Dialameh revealed to me one day as he tended his garden in the aerie heights of Griffith Park. “Being out in nature at least five days a week, staying away from doctors and lawyers, and hiking, lots of hiking.” The Iranian immigrant began fashioning his namesake two-acre oasis in 1971 following a severe fire that ravaged the brushy slopes above the Mineral Wells Picnic Area. Dialameh hiked in the park and worked his garden nearly every single day. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 71. His slogan was “In the land of the free, plant a tree.” Today, volunteers inspired by his example, tend Amir’s Garden with his spirit in mind. Amir’s Garden is a perfect rest stop for the hiker on a longer journey or an easy goal for the walker desiring a quick escape from city life.
Glendale, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Construction of a superhighway between Los Angeles and Pasadena was a dream that began with the motoring age. Arroyo Seco Parkway, the nation’s first freeway, opened to traffic the day before the 1941 Tournament of Roses Parade. But before Arroyo Seco became a parkway, it became a park. In the 1920s, a sand and gravel company was digging up the arroyo near Avenue 43 and an irate local citizenry demanded that Los Angeles buy the riverbed and convert it to a park. Arroyo Seco Park was constructed from 1927 to 1930. The Chamber of Commerce and City Council next decided a “parkway” leading through the park would be a wonderful asset to the city. Depression-era WPA workers helped build the first stretch of road, about six miles long, which extended from Pasadena to Avenue 22 in Los Angeles. The financial cost? The then-remarkable sum of a million dollars a mile. Motorists came from all over the Southland just to drive back and forth on the parkway, free of stop signs and stop lights.
South Pasadena, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
During the early decades of this century, Arroyo Seco was an extremely popular place for a weekend outing. About halfway up the wild section of the canyon stood Camp Oak Wilde, a rustic resort constructed in 1911. Hikers and horsemen stayed a night or two or used the hostelry as a rest stop on the way up to Mt. Wilson. During the 1920s, a road was constructed and automobilists traveled the arroyo to Camp Oak Wilde. Southern California’s “flood of the century” wiped out Oak Wilde in 1938. The awesome torrent also washed away the road and many vacation cabins. A few stone steps and foundations, ivy-covered walls and bridges give today’s hiker hints of a time gone by.
Altadena, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
Wildflowers, waterfalls, and a hike to remember are the attractions of Arroyo Sequit Park, a gem of a little preserve located just off Mulholland Highway in the Santa Monica Mountains. Hikers can experience the park’s considerable charms via a lollipop-shaped trail system that loops through open meadows and dips in an out of the gorge cut by the headwaters of the east fork of Arroyo Sequit. Along the way are grand views of Boney Mountain, western sentinel of the Santa Monicas. Despite a treasure trove of flowering plants, this 155-acre mountain hideaway, now under the stewardship of the National Park Service, receives few visitors. One reason for Arroyo Sequit’s anonymity is its isolation from other parks. Long-planned trails intended to link the park with nearby National Park Service properties such as Malibu Springs and Circle X Ranch have not got off the drawing board and onto the ground. Should the park ever get connected by trail to surrounding destinations, Arroyo Sequit will emerge as a compelling destination or superb trailhead for long rambles through the wild west end of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Malibu, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
When the light is right and the air is clean, the purple mountains beckon with the sweet smell of sage and many a winding trail. One of these inviting trails leads up Bailey Canyon from the town of Sierra Madre. The attraction is the view: clear-day vistas of the San Gabriel Valley are your reward for scaling many a steep switchback. If you want to get a feel for the area’s geography, take a map along a San Gabriel Valley map. Most of what you see of the San Gabriel Valley from Bailey Canyon Trail is commercial and residential. However, there are two significant splotches of green almost due south of the canyon: the Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Santa Anita Golf Course. Between the green is Santa Anita racetrack.
Sierra Madre, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
From a distance, the Baldwin Hills appear to have little attraction for the hiker. Oil wells work on slopes that have been scarred by roads and bulldozers. But the oil is petering out, the hillsides are being ecologically rehabilitated, and parkland is being created. Located in the west-central part of Los Angeles, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area was named for the longtime Los Angeles County Supervisor and is operated by Los Angles County. The park encompasses the hills and canyons between La Brea and La Cienega Boulevards. The clean, well-kept, developed part of the park is no secret to nearby residents, who enjoy weekend picnics and barbecues on the expansive lawns. However, the park is completely unknown to most hikers, as well as to most everybody else in the Southland.
Culver City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
Long before Los Angeles International Airport was constructed, Glendale’s Grand Central Airport was the Southland’s main terminal. During the teens and twenties, bankers, businessmen, politicians and Hollywood stars (commercial air travel was not for the masses in those days) boarded planes on the runways next to San Fernando Road. Flying to the east coast was a several day, multi-stop journey. Atop Beacon Hill was a beacon, illuminated at night to warn approaching aircraft of the high Hollywood Hills near the airport. The beacon is long gone, but you can still get a pilot’s-eye view of Los Angeles from the summit of Beacon Hill. This 4-mile workout could be a delightful way to unwind for downtown workers. Take off a wee bit early from work, or take advantage of the longer summer daylight hours and head for the Griffith Park hills. From atop Beacon Hill, you can survey your commute route—the Pasadena, Golden State and Ventura freeways. The tranquil trail around the hills is a nice way to wait out rush hour.
Glendale, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This walk on the eastern side of the Verdugo Mountains offers a number of options, including a 6-mile loop, a ridgeline ramble, and the chance to climb the range’s 3,126-foot signature summit, Verdugo Peak. A clear-day walk to the top of the eastern crest offers a great geography lesson.
Montrose, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
Cascades, a waterfall and giant woodwardia ferns are a few of the many delights of historic Big Santa Anita Canyon. The bucolic canyon has been popular with Southern California hikers for a hundred years. William Sturtevant, known to his friends as “Sturde,” pioneered many miles of San Gabriel Mountains trails. He traveled from California to Colorado in the early 1880s with forty burros. A packer par excellence, he soon found his services to be in great demand in the San Gabriels. Sturtevant hewed out a trail over the ridge from Winter Creek to the top of the canyon and in 1898 opened Sturtevant Camp. The rustic resort consisted of a dining hall, tents, and a store and was a popular trail resort well into the 1930s. In Santa Anita Canyon today some eighty-odd cabins are serviced by a burro train from Chantry Flats, named for another early packer, Charlie Chantry. One of the more colorful sights in the local mountains—and a look backward into a bygone era—is a glimpse at the pack animals plodding up the trail to Sturtevant Camp, now a Methodist Church retreat.
Mount Wilson, CA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 8
These days you won’t find any grizzlies atop Grizzly Flat, just a few hikers enjoying a pine-shaded retreat above one of L.A.’s more renowned canyons—Big Tujunga. During the 19th century, a large population of grizzlies roamed the San Gabriel Mountains. The bears frightened early miners and settlers, and in later years, had many a run-in with sportsmen and forest rangers. Big Tujunga Canyon was particularly attractive habitat to the big bears; in fact, the last wild grizzly in Southern California was killed in the lower reaches of the canyon in 1916. Grizzly Flat Trail explores Tujunga Canyon, then rises into the storied hills where notorious highwayman Tiburcio Vasquez eluded a posse in 1874. Vasquez, after robbing a San Gabriel Valley rancher, rode over the top of the San Gabriels, descended north along a then-unnamed creek to Big Tujunga Canyon, and made good his escape. The unnamed creek, which cuts through the eastern edge of Grizzly Flat, has since been known as Vasquez Creek.
La Crescenta, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Considering that two of the park’s borders are the Foothill and San Bernardino Freeways, Bonelli offers more peace and solitude than one might expect. Fourteen miles of trail cross the park’s chaparral-covered hills and lead through quiet canyons shaded by oak and walnut groves. The Los Angeles Flood Control District built Puddingstone Dam in the San Jose Hills near San Dimas. Completed in 1928 for the purpose of capturing and storing rainwater and storm runoff, the dam created a 250-acre lake, which soon attracted swimmers and fishermen, and has remained a popular destination ever since. As the population of the San Gabriel Valley mushroomed during the 1950s and 1960s, the State Department of Parks and Recreation began purchasing land around the reservoir. Puddingstone Reservoir State Park as it was known, remained a little-developed, low-key place until 1970, when the property was transferred to Los Angeles County.
San Dimas, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
Back in the 1930s and for a couple of decades thereafter, going to the beach had an altogether different meaning than it does nowadays. San Gabriel Valley families flocked not to the popular Pacific shores but down by the river—to a sand strand along the Rio Hondo locals called Marrano Beach. Then, a day along the river was like a day at the beach anywhere—sunning, swimming, picnicking. But such activities at Marrano Beach had a distinctly Spanish accent, often including a pot of menudo (tripe soup) bubbling on the campfire and guitar-accompanied songs from south of the border. Progress dimmed, then doomed the Rio Hondo’s attraction as a recreation site. By the 1960s, an upwardly mobile population drove new freeways to ocean beaches.
Montebello, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
“Have you been to Glendale?” This was the question posed in full-page advertisements that ran every Sunday in Los Angeles newspapers during the early 1900s. The man who placed these ads was civic booster and real-estate tycoon Leslie C. Brand, often referred to as “The Father of Glendale.” Born in St. Louis, Brand moved to the Southland in 1898 and did quite well in the insurance business, becoming president of Guarantee Title and Trust Company of Los Angeles. By 1902, he owned one thousand acres in the Verdugo Mountains. At the base of the mountains Brand built El Mirador, a 5,000-square-foot mansion. El Mirador, with its elegant white exterior, horseshoe arches and bulbous domes is a unique example of Saracen architecture—a mixture of Spanish, Moorish and Indian styles.
Burbank, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.5
“To the Bat Cave, Robin.” With that cry, Batman and Robin of TV fame hopped into the Batmobile and sped off to their hideaway. The dynamic duo’s underground lair was not, as you might guess, a movie set built on a studio back lot, but a real cave in the southwest corner of Griffith Park. “Batman” was not the only TV show to make use of the area known as the Bronson Caves. About every Western from “Gunsmoke” to “Bonanza” used the caves as a hideout for desperadoes. “Star Trek,” “Mission Impossible” and many more shows were filmed here. Long before moviemakers discovered the caves, the rocky walls of the canyon were quarried by the Los Angles Stone Company. During the early years of the 20th century, the crushed rock from the quarry formed the railbed for the Pacific Electric Transit System. In later years, the crushed stone from the quarry was used to pave such thoroughfares as Sunset and Wilshire boulevards.
West Hollywood, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
This coastal hike has a little of everything: Cabrillo Beach, the only real sand beach for miles to the north and south; the family-friendly Cabrillo Marine Aquarium; historic White Point, an intriguing chapter from coastal SoCal’s history. The mission of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is to promote knowledge and conservation of marine life in Southern California and this it does well, with exhibits interpreting the region’s mudflats, kelp forest, sandy beach and other environments. The aquarium sponsors tidepool walks, grunion watches and is a coordinating point for whale-watching cruises. Open daily except Mondays, the aquarium attracts scores of school groups. All but forgotten today, the rocky cove just down-coast from White Point in San Pedro once flourished as a Roaring Twenties health spa and resort. All that remains today are some sea-battered cement ruins and lush overgrown gardens.
Rolling Hills, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
Calabasas Peak (2,163 feet high) stands head and shoulders above neighboring summits and offers great clear-day views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the San Fernando Valley, and San Gabriel Mountains. After a serious 1993 fire scorched the peak, the native chaparral recovered in truly remarkable fashion. These days the slopes are cloaked with laurel sumac, a six- to 12-foot evergreen shrub with smooth, reddish-brown bark. Also much in evidence along Calabasas Peak Trail is the humble, homely Santa Susana tarweed. In springtime, look for white and blue ceanothus blossoms, Indian paintbrush and Catalina Mariposa lily.
Glenview, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
The Backbone Trail route through Malibu Creek State Park has been finished for quite some time and has proved very popular. Both a primary and alternate route lead through the state park. The high “primary” route follows a dramatic ridgetop toward Castro Crest while the “alternate” route meanders along with Malibu Creek through the heart of the state park. This day hike connects the two branches of the Backbone Trail and provides a grand tour of Malibu Creek State Park. Fine ocean and island views are offered along the first half of the hike and a chance to explore geologically and ecologically unique Malibu Creek Canyon on the second half.
Agoura, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7