20 Breathtaking Hikes In Los Angeles For All Levels
By Kay Rodriguez
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Updated November 17, 2022
While Los Angeles is known typically for is sparkling beaches and celebrity sighting spots, there’s a vibrant set of outdoor activities in LA, too. Hitting the trails is one of the easiest things to do in the city, as there are so many beautiful places to go hiking in Los Angeles. We’ve put together this list of the best hikes in Los Angeles to help you plan your next outdoor adventure! Whether you’re looking for canyons and deserts or forests and waterfalls, our list definitely has at least one trail that will be up your alley.
Top Hikes In Los Angeles
Mount Hollywood Trail
Distance: 5.3 miles
How to Get There: You can drive or take the Observatory/Los Feliz bus to the West Observatory Rd & Mt. Hollywood Dr. stop, then begin your hike from there.
As one of the most iconic hikes in Los Angeles, the Mount Hollywood Trail is a popular 5.3-mile route through the wildflower-laden hills of the LA area. From here, you’ll catch panoramic views of Los Angeles, as well as some of the most photo-worthy spots to see the famed Hollywood sign. Since it’s an incredibly popular hike for locals and tourists alike, we’d strongly recommend getting there early, even on weekdays. You’ll avoid massive bottlenecks and escape the mid-day sun. Plus, if you arrive before 8 AM, the parking at the Observatory is free!
Cahuenga Park to Wisdom Tree
Distance: 3 miles
How to Get There: Park on Lake Hollywood drive and head east on Wonder View drive until the road turns into a dirt path.
Cahuenga Park to Wisdom Tree is one of the most beloved urban hikes in Los Angeles. This trail takes you up through LA’s highest peak to a lone tree with views overlooking the entire city. The trail is relatively new as this part of the park was recently opened up after some private donations bought out the previously privately owned land.
There are some moderately tough climbs along the rugged trail. In the summertime, this hike can be challenging as there is virtually no shade along the entire path. At the end of the trail is a beautiful, solitary tree (famous in the LA area) that doubles as a geocaching location.
Griffith Observatory Trail
Distance: 2-4 miles (varies depending on trailhead)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (depending on weather)
How to Get There: From Hollywood, head up Fern Dell Dr from Los Feliz Blvd. Pick a parking location along that road. There are multiple trailheads here.
One of Los Angeles’ most popular hikes, the Griffith Observatory Trail will offer you incredible views of the city (especially at nighttime). There are multiple trails in this area but most lead up to the observatory. Pick the easiest location to park along the main road and walk the hour long trails up to the observatory. The nice thing about this trail is that you will avoid the parking nightmare at the observatory and will have some relative peace and quiet on the trail.
At the end of the trail, you’ll have the option to branch off and take several other longer hikes including one to the Hollywood sign.
Brush Canyon Trail
Distance: 2.8 miles out and back
How to Get There: Head up Fern Dell Dr from Los Feliz Dr until it takes a sharp left turn. The trailhead is here.
Brush Canyon Trail is a wonderful hike for those on a time crush, as it boasts breathtaking views of LA, Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood sign. You’ll head uphill for the first half of the trail. In the middle, the trail levels out and turns into a loop that offers you views of all three attractions. This part of the trail is usually never crowded and it’s common to have the whole trail to yourself during the weekday. Bring your fur babies as this trail is dog friendly. Be careful during summer as there is little shade on the trail and the heat can get unbearable.
Distance: 2.7 miles
How to Get There: Drive on 101 to Exit 11A (Barham Boulevard), then drive to the top of Fuller Avenue from there.
As one of the more challenging spots for hiking near LA, Runyon Canyon is a quite popular trail for more experienced hikers in the city. Along the steep inclines and descents and gravel paths, you’ll see striking views of the entire Los Angeles area. On clear days, you can even catch sparkles of the Pacific Ocean behind the towering skyline! Note that the gravel paths on this hike can pose additional challenges/safety hazards, so if you choose to tackle it, proceed with caution. Hikers that want a bit less strenuous of a hike can tackle the Runyon Park to Indian Rock trail instead.
Pro tip: The park can get quite crowded every day, so we’d recommend going extra early to secure parking and see beautiful early morning views of LA out to the ocean.
Fryman Canyon Loop at Wilacre Park
Distance: 3 miles
How to Get There: The easiest way to get here is by car, but you can also take an MTA bus directly to the park.
Located in the Hollywood Hills near Wilacre Park, the Fryman Canyon Trail is a quick, relatively easy trail for catching some beautiful sunset views and a bit of serenity in chaotic LA. The loop is dog-friendly and passes by the Tree People headquarters, where you can catch some beautiful views of the valley and the city below (especially at sunrise and sunset). While some of the trails here do follow paved roads, you’ll find options for dirt/gravel paths as well – choose your own adventure! Given that this is a popular spot for hiking in Los Angeles, you can simply ask others on the trail if you’re unsure of where to go next.
Distance: 3.5 miles
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Eaton Canyon is by car
If you’re looking for something a little different than sweeping city views, Eaton Canyon is one of the best hikes in Los Angeles for you. Located in Pasadena, the trail has more of a forest and waterfall atmosphere than a purely urban one, featuring a 40-foot cascade and views of the surrounding mountains.
During summertime, the trail area gets very popular because it’s mostly shaded – however, if you get there early, you’ll probably be able to beat the crowds. There’s also a Nature Center near the entrance to the trail, perfect for cooling off or for a family-friendly afternoon.
Inspiration Point Loop
Distance: 9 miles
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Inspiration Point Loop is by car
Looking for a longer adventure in the mountains? Inspiration Point Loop is one of the most beloved hikes in LA for more experienced hikers, as it’s a half-day excursion (5-7 hours) through the hills to a stunning vista called Inspiration Point. The trail boasts a variety of terrain and is especially beautiful at sunrise. However, it’s quite exposed with little shade, so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself from the sun, especially if you’re hiking during mid-day.
Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook
Distance: 4.4-7.3 miles
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Los Liones Trail is by car
The Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook is arguably one of the prettiest places to go hiking in Los Angeles, with its views of both the city skyline and the coast. On clear days, you’ll be able to see the entire panorama, from mountains to city to sea – one of the most beautiful representations of Los Angeles, if you ask us. Depending on the route you take, the hike can be quite easy or pretty difficult with rock scrambles. They all end at the beautiful Parker Mesa Overlook, which is absolutely stunning.
Pro tip: There’s poison oak along the trail, so be sure to cover your legs and arms and wear long socks.
Scenic Hikes Near Los Angeles
Distance: 6.6 miles
Recommended to us by several locals, Devil’s Backbone is not for the faint of heart. This 6.6 mile out-and-back trail has challenging, steep inclines and descents, and offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains nearby. Because of its length and difficulty, we wouldn’t recommend Devil’s Backbone for beginners, but if you’ve got several hikes under your belt and want a real challenge, this is a great trail to tackle. Be sure to pack some layers, plenty of water, snacks, and sun protective gear – the trail is fairly exposed and can get chilly at times!
Pro tip: You can combine Devil’s Backbone with Mount Baldy Loop (below) for a full-day hiking adventure in the Mount Baldy area.
Mount Baldy Loop
Distance: 11.3 miles
One of the most beloved places to go hiking near Los Angeles is around Mount Baldy. The quintessential hike there is the Mount Baldy Loop, which brings you to the summit of the mountain and over stunning ridges, with some challenging terrain to boot. Experienced hikers will love the variety of the trail and the steep ups and downs. However, it’s important to bring sun protection gear and some layers, as it does get windy at the top and the trails are very exposed.
An important safety note: Mount Baldy is a hike for experienced hikers only and it’s especially important to be careful when hiking Baldy in the winter. There have been many hiking deaths reported on Mount Baldy. Be prepared, vigilant, and experienced enough before attempting this hike, and do not go alone.
Bridge to Nowhere
Distance: 9.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate (with a few river crossings)
If you’re into history and abandoned structures, the eerie but scenic Bridge to Nowhere Trail is one of the most interesting hikes near Los Angeles. A gravel trail winds through the mountains and ends at a 130-foot long abandoned bridge, left over from an attempt to build a road in the area in the 1930s. Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, you’ll catch some stunning views of the countryside, as well as a few river crossings and abandoned structures. This is definitely a fun and interesting hike for those looking for a challenge!
Escondido Canyon and Falls
Distance: 3.7 miles
For a family-friendly waterfall hike that’s not too challenging, Escondido Canyon and Falls is a fantastic option. As one of the easier waterfall hikes near Los Angeles, this trail is usually lined by colorful wildflowers, rocky outcroppings, and beautiful views into the canyon itself. Depending on the rain levels, the waterfall can be a tiny trickle or a larger cascade, but we’d like to think that this trail is more about the journey than the destination, anyway.
Distance: 5.7 miles
Want to hike to the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains? Lace up those boots and head up to Sandstone Peak. Although it’s a summit hike, it’s not too strenuous, so it’s great for folks who want an easier climb to a stunning peak view. To get to the peak, you’ll start up Backbone Trail (not to be confused with Devil’s Backbone in Mount Baldy), then hike up a gradual incline to the peak. Note that you’ll need to take a short side trail to get to the actual summit, as the trail passes around it.
Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park
Distance: 2.7 miles
The Paradise Falls Trail at Wildwood Park is one of the most popular, family-friendly places to go hiking near LA. This short, moderate trail leads to a stunning emerald green waterfall cascading down a rock face. Along the way, you can catch glimpses of the desert plant and wildlife, as well as views of the surrounding rolling hills. Because this is such a popular hike, we recommend going early in the morning or on weekdays to avoid large crowds.
Distance: 3.2 miles
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, Solstice Canyon is one of the best family-friendly hikes near LA. With plenty of shade and lots of stunning views of the mountains and the ocean, the trail here is fairly easy and accessible to hikers of all levels. Along the trail, you can find a handful of abandoned buildings, as well as tiny babbling waterways and cascades. You’ll also pass by the Tropical Terrace, a beautiful oasis on the trail with tropical plants and statues housed in an abandoned building.
Santa Anita Canyon Loop
Distance: 9.5 miles
As one of the most beautiful hikes near Los Angeles, the Santa Anita Canyon Loop is a half- to full-day hike that boasts waterfalls, canyons, and mountains galore. The views here are varied throughout the loop, providing a diverse set of terrain and visuals for hikers, and the trail is mostly shaded. Keep in mind that you’ll need to cross some creeks, so waterproof hiking boots are recommended! However, for those who take on the challenge, Santa Anita Canyon is one of the hidden gems for hiking near Los Angeles.
Point Mugu State Park
While it’s not a specific trail, there are few parks more magnificent in the LA area than Point Mugu State Park. With breathtaking views of the mountains and the rocky shoreline, you’ll be up for a real spectacle on the hiking trails here. Hit up the Scenic and Overlook Trails Loop for some of the most stunning views on an easy to moderate trail, or tackle the Point Mugu Peak Trail for a bit more of a strenuous challenge to the summit.
Distance: 2.3 miles
Wildwood Canyon is a fun and challenging hike near Burbank, perfect if you’re short on time or don’t want to do a half-day hike. Don’t be fooled by the sort length of this hike – it’s actually quite difficult with some very steep inclines. During the hike, you’ll see beautiful views of the canyon, as well as the Los Angeles skyline in the distance. With shaded areas as well as wide open ridges, Wildwood Canyon packs a punch for diversity in terrain and difficulty. Don’t miss this spectacular trail!
Joshua Tree National Park
While it’s not exactly the closest spot for hiking near Los Angeles, we’d be remiss if we left out the stunning trails of Joshua Tree National Park. Known for its incredible bouldering and climbing opportunities, as well as its signature trees, Joshua Tree is a fantastic spot for anyone who likes to hike.
At just 2-2.5 hours from LA, Joshua Tree is do-able in a day trip (though we’d recommend booking a hotel or camping and staying longer!). Hikers in the area especially love the Barker Dam, Ryan Mountain, and Lost Palms Oasis trails for great views of the park and its unique rock formations.
Additional Resources for Hiking Near Los Angeles
Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to wear a sweat-wicking shirt and breathable pants, like these Patagonia hiking shorts for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers for men and women, a down puffer jacket for men and women, and a Northface waterproof outer shell for men and women (a must for hiking in Seattle). And don’t forget a pair of the best women’s and men’s hiking socks!
Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we suggest throwing them in your car just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond Trail Ergo cork trekking poles, which are lightweight, easy to transport, and durable.
Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To limit disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask water bottles because they keep water cold for hours.
Sunscreen and bug spray – Sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects. Our favorite kind of sunscreen is Sun Bum, as it is free of harsh chemicals and safe for marine life, including coral reefs.
A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or capfor day hikes in the sunshine.
Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend the Osprey Tempest 20 or the Talon 22 day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes. For more information, check out our best day packs for any terrain guide.
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