When I moved to Los Angeles almost a decade ago, the first place my bff at the time took me to was Runyon. I was awe struck that you could workout outside year round, feel surrounded by nature but still be in the city, and when you made it to the top you could see from the ocean to the Hollywood sign to downtown (on a clear day of course). Besides communicating with nature, hiking is also great for spending time with a friend, or clearing your head if you want to hike alone. But like every Angeleno, I soon became jaded by the “scene” of Runyon. After spending one hike listening to an actress take a conference call on speaker phone with her manager, and say things like, “I have so much respect for Meryl Streep,” I needed to find some new spots.
Luckily the mountains around LA have tons of incredible trails and gorgeous views, here are my top 3.
Photo by @titajhikes
There’s an urban legend that the wisdom tree was the only tree left standing after the Griffith Park fire consumed 817 acres back in 2007. Since then, the lone tree overlooking the Hollywood reservoir has become a respite for hikers looking for a little magic with their workout. The tree is adorned with pieces of fabric with wishes written on them (regularly removed in order to maintain the health of the tree) and is surrounded by man made rock sculptures. The hike is somewhat short but pretty intense, so wear good shoes. You can also take a trail along the ridge of the mountain to view the Hollywood sign. Park on Lake Hollywood Drive, and access the trailhead from Wonder View Drive.
Photo by @a.alvarez89
Located on the west side of Los Angeles, Temescal has a long winding hike that takes you from the parking lot, through a retreat center with cabins, into a flat green space, into a slight incline that eventually leads to a small bridge and waterfall. Beyond the waterfall begins a much more challenging trail that takes you up to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains where you’ll find breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. There is ample parking for a small fee directly off Sunset Blvd.
Photo by @aagjo8
Famous as being a popular outdoor set for film and television, the trails at Malibu Creek are pretty moderate, but there is a killer swimming hole. In past years the swimming hole has been pretty low and murky, but the rain in SoCal has been major this year, so the swimming hole is in full effect. The rest of the grounds are pretty magical too. With rolling hills and views of the mountains, it makes you feel like you’re in an episode of Game of Thrones (without all the blood and dragons). This hike is the farthest away from Runyon (Malibu isn’t technically LA), so plan to stay for the day if you can. There is ample parking and picnics are welcome.
As always, if you’re hiking these trails for the first time be sure to bring a friend, plenty of water, and your cell phone; if it gets dark before you reach your car the flashlight and GPS will come in handy + all these hikes are Insta-worthy like whoa!