L.A.'s Top 10 Summer Hikes

While Los Angeles is known for its trendy, urbanized spots, it also boasts hike trails that allow residents to escape the city's traffic, over-populated streets and watch all of it from hillsides and mountain cliffs high above. So if you're looking for a change or a challenge, put on your best hiking shoes and start treading down (or up) on any of these trails.

10. Hidden Valley Trail: 1 mile

Hidden Valley Trail is only one mile long, thus making it easily attainable for those beginners worried about straining themselves. For those of you disappointed by the length, the scenery will make up for it. Located right in the middle of the L.A.'s closest national park, Joshua Tree, the trail leads you through a maze of red, orange, and brown colored rocks that you just do not come across by in everyday Los Angeles, making this a must-see sight.

9. Malibu Creek: 3.5 miles

This relatively easy hike is surrounded by great sights, from a rock pool with vertical walls of volcanic rock, to a lake that reminds you there is more to Southern California than its smog-filled air. Being only 27 miles away from L.A., Hollywood filmmakers have capitalized on the site's beauty: rock climbers can attempt to climb the rock wall featured in the film Planet of the Apes and continuing on the trail, you can even see some of the props used for the 1970's M*A*S*H television series.


8. Escondido Canyon Falls: 4.2 miles

Just 17 miles away from Santa Monica, this trail head will lead you through a gradual climb that is surrounded by trees and canyon walls. The trip is worthwhile in the end, for you get to see a 50 foot high waterfall. If this sight isn't enough for you, you can climb up the rocks to the upper level of the fall, approximately 100 feel high. The sight and sound of the waterfall is so serene, it might make you forget all of city life's troubles, even for just a bit.

7. Zuma Canyon to Newton Falls: 4.1 miles

A strenuous hike, this trail is sure to excite all of you expert hikers. Located in Malibu, hikers are warned to take caution when trying to conquer this trail, but also to enjoy the "stunning adventure." It features swimming holes, rocky cascades, gigantic boulders that will sure to keep you entertained and ready on your toes to evade. A little tip: the scenery is most beautiful after rainfall, but you're also guaranteed a challenge.

6. Arroyo Seco/ Gabrielino Trail: 5 miles

For those of you who are California history enthusiasts, this hike is for you. This flat hike will show you the location of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and then a nature lover's dream: big leafed maple and sycamore trees with a flowing stream. If that isn't enough, this trail follows the route to a 1920s road that ran through Pasadena, up the canyon, past wilderness resorts and cabins.

5. Bridge to Nowhere: 10 miles

Ten miles of hiking around the east fork of the San Gabriel River leads to river crossings, roads, tunnels and the Bridge to Nowhere, a 120 foot high concrete bridge in the middle of the canyon. This bridge is unique because of its rather odd placing of right in the middle of the canyon and because it is the only place in California where daredevils are allowed to bungee jump. If you get lost, no need to fear, just follow the water.

bridge to nowhere.jpg

4. Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point: 10.4 miles

The San Gabriel Mountains are a host of hikes and trails, but none are quite like the 10 mile hike that leads to Inspiration Point on Echo Mountain. The hike may be long, but the trail is in good condition and very worthwhile, as you get to see an array of forested mountain canyons, gorgeous vistas and even the ruins of century old mountaintop resort.

3. Parker Mesa Overlook a.k.a. Topanga Overlook: 6 miles

This 6 mile hike from Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park to the Parker Mesa Overlook will lead you to both oceanic and canyon views. On one side you can see the San Gabriel Mountains and on the other, Catalina Island and the Santa Monica coastline. As I always say, Los Angeles is unique in that it boasts not only modern city landscape, but natural beauty as well. This trail is a testament to that.

2. Chantry Flat in Arcadia: 11 miles

Rated as the 2nd best hike trail in all of California by TripleBlaze.com, Chantry Flat offers classic natural scenery only thought to be seen in movies. Lorena Rodriguez, a member of the LA Trail Hikers, describes the trail as one of nature's "best kept secrets...There is also a few creek crossings along the way leading you to the beautiful Sturtevant Falls with its 50 feet of cascading water. It is every outdoor enthusiasts sheer delight."

1. Mt. Lee and the Hollywood Sign: 6.5 miles

Sure, some of you may have already visited it, but tell me it was not worth it? For those of you yet to climb up Mt. Lee, the host of the famous Hollywood sign, tell me you've never thought of it. The trail hike to the city's most iconic symbol is a moderate one, and 6.5 miles long, round trip. The trail begins on Griffith Park, and it leads you to the backside of the Hollywood sign (it's as close as you'll get with actual access to the sign being fenced off). You'll feel on top of the world with a view of the perfect combination of urban city architecture and natural beauty that only Los Angeles can offer.

hollywood sign.jpg

KCET would like to thank L.A. Trail Hikers members Lorena Rodriguez and Jason Bazalar for their input on this list. Be sure to check out LATrailHikers.com, Localhikes.com, TripleBlaze.com, and others for more information.

This images above were taken by Flickr users anarchosyn,
Omar Omar, The City Project. It was used under the Creative Commons License.

Were some of your favorite trails not mentioned? Any recommendations? Comment below!


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Good list. But, for spectacular, high mountain vistas, try Sandstone Peak at the highest point in the entire Santa Monica Mountain range, especially in springtime, when the onshore breezes bring in ocean fogs that wrap around the base and give the illusion of your being on top of the world. The trailhead is near Circle X Ranch.


This is a great list. Can't wait to try some. My Favorite hike around is La Jolla Canyon Loop in Point Mugu SP. Santa Anita Canyon is another favorite spot though - great pick! If people are looking for more than 10 hikes, this website has a lot of useful info and photos. Hike on! http://www.hikespeak.com/los-angeles/