Hiking in Los Angeles is all about finding that perfect combination of getting out into nature without ever really leaving the city. These picks do it all.
Hiking is one of the best ways to exercise. Period. Go ahead, try to change my mind. No matter what type of trail you find yourself on, hiking is a whole-body workout that helps you build stronger muscles and bones, improves your cardiovascular health, improves your balance, and lowers your risk for depression. We’re incredibly lucky to have ample hiking trails in LA all around us. From the Hollywood Sign to The Bridge to Nowhere, there is no shortage of trails to check out. Depending on how much time you have and your skill level, I’ve got a hike for you! Read on for the best hikes in LA.
The best hikes in LA…
If you have less than 1 hour
Griffith Observatory Los Feliz
This Griffith Park hike is one of the most popular, and quickest hikes in LA, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth skipping. This gentle 2.5-mile hike is a must for locals and visitors alike! Plus, if you get there early enough, you’ll be done by brunch. (And I’ve got recommendations for that too!) Sounds like a perfect morning to me.
Ascot Hills Downtown LA
On a clear day, look out for the Hollywood Sign, downtown Los Angeles, LAX, Catalina, Old Saddleback, San Gorgonio Mountain and the San Gabriel Mountains. This is a quick and moderate loop that lasts about two miles and gains around 500ft. If you’re in the area, it’s an excellent workout before or after work. Be careful if you’re going during the heat of the day though—there is not much shade so be prepared with a bottle of water, hat, and sunscreen.
If you have 2-4 hours
Mt. Hollywood Los Feliz
This is the perfect hike to take your out-of-town friends and family when they visit. With views of downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, and the Griffith Observatory, this hike checks off a bunch of bucket list items in one short adventure. One of the easiest places to begin your Mt. Hollywood hike is from the Charlie Turner Trailhead, assuming you can find parking! The Griffith Observatory parking lot tends to fill quickly, as does nearby road parking. Plan to get there early to beat the rush. You can follow any number of trails, making your hike anywhere from 1.5 miles to over 4. Trails are very well marked, so you do not need to worry about getting lost.
Solstice Canyon Loop Malibu
This is one of those Malibu hikes you can’t miss. Just off the PCH, lies Solstice Canyon. You’ve got two options for this hike—a 3-mile shaded path or the Rising Sun Trail that (you guessed it) provides very little shade. In the shaded trail, you’ll enjoy waterfalls, cabin ruins, and creek beds that are perfect for puppy-playing! The Rising Sun trail is a little overgrown (as of May 2019) so best to do if you don’t mind stomping down some brush. Best for long pants and make sure to take precautions against ticks. No matter what trail you do (or both!) you’ll want to get there early. Parking tends to fill quickly.
Murphy Ranch Malibu
Fans of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle will love this hike- because it ends in an all-too-eerie 1930’s Nazi campground. No one knows the real story for sure, but it’s generally believed that in the 1930s, a wealthy couple under the “sway” of a supernatural German Nazi named Herr Schmidt, was convinced to build a command center where Nazis in the U.S. could hide out until it was time for them to start running the country. Federal agents stormed Murphy Ranch on December 8th, 1941 and arrested Schmidt. Now, the grounds of Murphy Ranch are a beautiful display of graffiti art. The hike itself is generally flat except for a seemingly endless staircase that heads down into the canyon. What goes down must come back up, so make sure you’re ready… you’re going to be tackling over 500 steps, but I promise, you can do it!
Paradise Falls Thousand Oaks
Depending on what you’re looking for, Paradise Falls can provide either a 2-mile or a 4.5-mile jaunt. Nestled inside of Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks your hike will feature a ton of different landscapes, plant communities, and dozens of different animals that call this wonderland home. By far the most “insta-worthy” spot is the beautiful 40 ft. tall Paradise Falls waterfall, a year-round waterfall (yes, even in summer). If you choose the longer route you’ll be headed past Lizzard Rock, a great place to view Stagecoach Bluff and beyond. This hike isn’t too challenging, with only 570 ft. of elevation change, but be prepared for some rocky terrain.
If you’re in for the long haul
Bridge to Nowhere
This is an intense hike and definitely not for beginners. Alltrails will tell you that this is a 9.4-mile hike, but most people get at least a little lost on the trail and you can easily add a few extra miles. Be prepared for river crossings (delightfully cold water), scrapes from overgrown brush, and a bit of sun! The trail is not the best marked, but that’s part of the fun. Depending on how long you take to hike if you get lost, and how long you stay to take pictures, this hike will last around 5-7 hours. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and big horned sheep on the mountain. This trail is dog-friendly, but the water crossings can be difficult to navigate with a pup as the current is strong. Use your best judgment and bring a few extra pairs of dry socks. The highlight of this hike is a literal bridge that goes nowhere—at least not anymore! There is a 130 ft. bridge is leftover from a failed attempt to build a road through the canyon. You may even see bungee jumpers on the bridge on the weekends.