With a metro area population of 18.7 million people, most outsiders wouldn’t dream of coming to Los Angeles to hike. But the millions of adventurous people that live here know that LA has easy access to incredible hiking right on its doorstep!Less
Mount Wilson towers above the Los Angeles metro area, soaring to a height of 5,712 feet above sea level. This height is impressive because the mountain literally does rise from sea level! Hikers can climb the entire height of Mount Wilson on beautiful singletrack hiking trails beginning right on the outskirts of Altadena.
Point Dume is a rocky headland jutting southward into the Pacific Ocean, next to a fine beach and community of the same name. Views from the top of the headland are phenomenal, stretching over sandy beaches and sea cliffs on both sides, as well as over the open Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you can see the Channel and Catalina Islands. In addition to hiking, the area is great for beachgoers, nature lovers, and rock climbers.
In the mountains north of Azusa, deep in the canyon of the San Gabriel River, sits a concrete arch bridge starkly out of place in its wilderness surroundings. This is the Bridge to Nowhere. It was built in 1936 as part of a road project but was abandoned after a flood wiped out much of the construction’s progress. The project was never resumed, and the area was later designated as the Sheep Mountain Wilderness, but the bridge survived.
Malibu Creek State Park is a large, mountainous open space in between LA and Thousand Oaks. It has many miles of hiking and biking trails, a few swimming holes, good rock climbing, wildflowers, and lots of wildlife, but one of the things it’s most famous for is the outdoor set of the TV show MAS*H. The TV set is now a popular hiking destination in the park.
Runyon Canyon is a very popular urban park near Hollywood Hills. It’s loved by locals and visitors alike for its panoramic viewpoints over Hollywood and Central LA, as well as considerable elevation gain for aerobic workouts. The network of trails makes many hike variations possible. The one described here is a longer loop connecting all the park’s major viewpoints, including the highest-elevation spot in the park.
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a treasure trove of trails in Orange County. Twenty-three miles of dirt roads and single track for hikers, bikers, and equestrians roll through hills and valleys of forest, grassland, and trickling streams. The park is full of interesting landforms and geology, but by far the most unique is Red Rock Canyon, where bronze and beige-colored cliffs and swirling sandstone pop out of a furrowed hillside.
Dana Point is a tiny pocket of nature surrounded by urban development. More than 100 types of plants grow here, including many wildflowers, and it’s a haven for small birds, insects, and other wildlife that thrive in the coastal scrub environment. A trail winds along the top and reaches multiple spectacular viewpoints over the ocean, which are also great spots to catch the sunset.
This lovely cascade was a favorite of John Muir himself, and is today loved by countless hikers in the LA area. This is one of the region’s most popular hikes, and for good reason. It begins in an easily accessible and free urban park with wildflowers and mountain views, then enters the forested canyon and follows tumbling waters upstream to the falls.
Echo Mountain is a ridge of the San Gabriel Mountains that extends prominently toward Altadena and Pasadena. It was the site of a luxury resort and astronomy observatory at the turn of the 20th Century, and was served by an electric railway. Today, trails follow the path the railway once took up the mountain, and make one of the best hiking loops in the area.