Hiking in LA is about as cliché as eating a baguette in France. From Malibu to the Hollywood Hills there are so many options that knowing which hike to choose can be hard. After being in LA for 8 years, I’ve climbed them all. So, whether you’re looking to work up a sweat solo or just mess around with some pals, I’ve got the perfect hike for you.
Runyon is a staple of hiking in LA. Get ready to see celebs, crazies, and every shape, size, and breed of dog under the sun. Scenery is pretty blah and difficulty is easy with one steep incline of stairs if you take the trail to the right as you head up the hill. This hike is a great place to meet friends since it’s easy to find and you won’t be too out of breath to talk. Parking can be tricky, so I recommend parking on a side street and adding the extra five minute walk to your hike.
Will Rogers State Park
The trails at Will Rogers State Park are some of the most diverse and scenic trails in LA. All of the trails start by the polo fields and one leads down to a small creek and waterfall; the upper trails are moderately challenging and can be taken as a loop or up an incline to eventually meet up with other trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, such as Temescal Canyon. Terrain is varied and can be challenging at times. Views from the top peaks are memorable, but beware of mountain bikers that often speed down the narrow upper trails.
This Palisades hike is by far one of the most beautiful coastal hikes in LA. It boasts gorgeous ocean views and the trails are narrow and brambly, so hiking shoes are a must. This trail seems to go on endlessly, so you can either make it a short trip or a long haul with lots of pit stops for photo opps. The terrain gets more challenging and starts to look increasingly similar as the hike goes on, so take precaution to not get lost.
Coral Canyon Caves
Corral Canyon Caves, also known as the “Jim Morrison Caves” are like some kind of alien landscape from a dream. This easy hike is filled with rock eye candy, some of which are climbable. It is also thought that one of the caves you can find here was Jim Morrison’s secret writing and thinking spot while he attended film school at UCLA. I have never actually found the cave, as several seem to fit the description, but I’m sure with enough internet scouring and asking around you could find it. This hike in Malibu also has some incredible ocean views and you can often see out above the clouds from the top, which is particularly magical. It gets hot, so bring sunscreen, a hat, and your camera for cool bouldering pics.
This hike would make a great date hike since you can hike and then head to the iconic Griffith Observatory at the top after. The Observatory and surrounding walkway boast incredible views of the city, especially at sunset. The hiking trails themselves tend to be pretty barren (in terms of landscape) and can be confusing, so bring a map and pay attention if you plan on heading out for a while.
Escondido Falls, also known as the “Waterfall Hike” (somewhat deceptively), is another Malibu hike. This one is shaded. You start off parking near the PCH, taking a scenic stroll along a well-groomed, residential road, and eventually heading into a shaded, tree-lined trail. This flat trail leads you to a waterfall that may or may not be flowing depending on what season you hike in (summer and fall are your worst bets for seeing water). From the waterfall, you can continue up the hill on a challenging, steep, eroding trail where you must use tree branches and a loose rope rail to pull yourself up. As you continue going up, the terrain turns more challenging and often becomes more of a bouldering situation than hiking. This one is not for children, the faint of heart, or those concerned with getting dirt in, on, and around their shoes.
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