A short, relatively easy trail loop in one of the most accessible areas of Los Angeles’ mountains. Quick access and very dog-friendly, although the crowds may leave you longing for something a bit further in the wilderness.
- Distance: 3 miles
– Elevation Gain: About 675 feet.
– Time: Just over an hour.
– Trail Condition: Excellent. Paved and unpaved fire road, and clearly marked footpaths. The trails are well-maintained and mostly unlittered, which
is surprising for the amount of traffic they get. There are a few steep sections on the western trail, so newcomers may want to stick to the central fire road or eastern trail.
– How to Get There: From the south, there are entrances on Fuller Avenue and
Vista Street, north of Franklin. Parking close to the Canyon entrance is all permitted residential, so you’ll have to add a small sidewalk trek to your distance. The Canyon’s north entrance is at Mullholland Drive and Runyon Canyon Road, just west of the 101.
- Map It
- Very close to urban Los Angeles and the Valley.
– Gently graded trails and fire roads – you don’t need hiking boots for this.
– Very dog-friendly, with many sections of the park where you don’t need to have your canine buddy on a leash.
- A few areas of historical significance, such as the ruins of the Outpost Sign, and several relics of homes and recreation grounds built by Frank Lloyd Wright and Lloyd Wright.
- On Flickr.
I make fun of Runyon Canyon. A lot.
Whenever I meet someone new, eventually (if the conversation is going well, that is) I will bring up the subject of hiking. More often than not, when I excitedly ask where they lace up their boots, the response is "oh, I love Runyon."
The voice in my head says, "oh, you mean the dog park off Hollywood Boulevard?" while the voice in my mouth encourages them to explore some hiking that’s not in view of Amoeba Records, knowing full well they probably never will.
I’m real fun to talk to, by the way.
But now that I live so close to the place, I decided I should probably check it out. I kind of feel bad making fun of the place without actually ever having been there. Not too bad, though. And definitely not bad at all when I was trying to find parking among the Hollywood Hills mini-mansions. Permit parking is lame.
After walking past the iron gates and inside the park proper, the crowd was almost exactly as I’d expected. Well-groomed dudes with tiny dogs and girls in stretch pants, chatting on their Blackberries. If you like your hikes peppered with cell phone conversations about script coverage and development deals, you are in for a treat and a half!
Having walked on pavement the entire way up the street, you’ll continue for a short distance inside the park. If you take the ascending road (a left in the fork), you’ll pass another, smaller gate. On your left hand side, there is a small dirt trail going through some of the brush and onto the hillside. You will notice few people using this path. That should encourage you to take it.
This path winds around the south face of the western hill, providing a decent viewpoint of the Los Angeles sprawl.
As it continues, the path does get a bit more rugged, and does have several sections of steep elevation gain. It’s definitely not the toughest stretch of trail I’ve ever done, but it was definitely more difficult than I was expecting. It does prevent the western trail from being just an outdoor track, and was a nice surprise for me.
This canyon is close for most Angelenos, but what you gain in convenience, you give up in hiking experience. While you’ll get some sun – and will technically be outside – you will never get the sense of remoteness or seclusion that you could get by spending just a bit more time getting to a different trailhead. Crowds and urbanized hikers aside, you are never once in a location where you can look around and not see overwhelming signs of civilization. Whether it’s paved fire roads, the sprawl of the city, or a portion of the hike where the trail literally comes up against the wall of a mansion.
Or the Hollywood Sign itself, with Actual Wilderness seen just tantalizingly behind it.
Once you get to the north end of the park, near Mullholland Drive, you can take a dirt fire road down the center of the Canyon, or hug a ridge on the eastern edge. The grade of the eastern hill is less challenging than its western counterpart, and the trail has a staircase built into the hill on the major ascent.
The eastern trail also and has a few nice scenic vista points with benches, if you’re in the mood for soaking up some sprawl views.
Me, I like my benches empty. And in the wilderness. But these’ll do in a pinch.
Wow, I guess it’s tough for me to not be critical of Runyon. But honestly, I’m glad it’s here. If, while strolling here, someone even has the glimmer of the idea to maybe check out more hiking trails in the area, then it’s done its job. And if not, then at least it keeps the joggers from overcrowding the rest of my San Gabriels.
*** For more information on Runyon Canyon, check out this site.
Latest posts by Casey Schreiner (see all)
- 7th Anniversary Gift – $100 Gift Certificate and 30% Off at Sierra Trading Post! - December 11, 2013
- Forest Service Fee Update for the Angeles National Forest - December 5, 2013
- UPDATE: Interior Secretary Jewell to Allow States to Pay to Operate National Parks - October 10, 2013