A short, relatively easy trail loop in one of the most accessible areas of Los Angeles’ mountains. This is one of the most popular trails in Los Angeles – and is a great place to play with dogs, spot celebrities, and get some outstanding views of the city. Crowds may leave you wishing for something a little more secluded, but this is a wonderful resource for people who just want to get outside.

Runyon Canyon is a small but extremely popular little patch of parkland in the heart of Hollywood. It has both an easy paved path and a surprisingly rugged trail along the park’s outer border that offers some stretches of intense workouts. The park itself is very popular with dog owners and has several off-leash areas for the canines, so if you’ve got a dog this is a great place for a quick hike … and if you don’t like dogs, you should probably head somewhere else.

This route begins near the park’s southwest entrance, just off Vista Street. Parking can be a chore here, especially on the weekends. Most of the side streets have permit and time restrictions, so getting a spot for your car may be an adventure in and of itself.

Runyon Canyon 001

When you get a spot, march up the hill on Vista Street. The road dead ends and you’ll see the gate for Runyon right ahead of you. There’s a small water fountain near the start of this trail (and usually a little water dish underneath the fountain for dogs).

From this starting area, you can either continue up the paved path for an easy, slow, gradual ascent – or you can take the dirt path that climbs up the ridge for a little more adventurous route (note – the plants in the photo are gone – it’s just a dirt path now).

Runyon Canyon 003

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This path makes a no-nonsense ascent up a fire break / mountain ridge. In the summer months it will likely be too hazy for decent views, but in the winter or spring you may be able to see all the way out to the Pacific Ocean from here.

Runyon Canyon 008

Runyon Canyon 009

This western route has two strenuous ascents – the first one switchbacks up a steep ridge near the park’s western border and levels off at a small plateau before making an even more steep ascent to yet another ridge. Keep an eye out for good views, watch your footing, and you might see some interesting stickers on a small mailbox / summit post.

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There is one potentially dicey area of trail just beyond the second tough incline – it’s a very short but very steep decline on a rough, sandy section of trail that’s easy to slip on if you don’t have good traction shoes. For some reason, people seem very hesitant to use their hands on this section of trail – but trust me, it makes the descent MUCH easier. There are a lot of hikers at Runyon who are probably not used to hiking wilderness trails – and may care a bit too much about getting dirt on their outfits. If this descent looks too steep for you, just get on your butt and slide down.

After the steep descent, you’ll hike beneath some power lines and next to a large mansion.

Previously, a fire road went next to the mansion and looped around the northern section of the park, but in 2013 the landowner fenced off the property along the long-abandoned house, and now hikers are diverted along a circuitous wooden staircase.


Runyon Canyon 013

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The signage the landowner put near the northern section of the diversion is pretty laughable – it’s clearly just a JPEG they downloaded from the internet, blew up at a Kinkos, and posted on a DWP post to make it look official. Lawsuits have already been filed to re-open the fire road to hikers, but it will likely be a while before anything is resolved here.

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Once you get to the north end of the park near Mullholland Drive, turn around and double back. You can choose to take a dirt / paved road down the center of the park or leave the road for a trail on the park’s eastern end. The ridge on the eastern side of the park is less challenging on the descent than the western ridge – and has a staircase built into some portions of it. There’s a bench on the point just before the descent begins – and it’s a great place for views of the city – especially at sunset.

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Runyon Canyon 017

As you descend the eastern stairs, keep an eye out for remnants of the old Outpost Sign – a 30-foot high neon sign that once stood on the hill to advertise a housing development, much like the Hollywood Sign. Today there’s not much left beyond some twisted metal, but the history of the area is fascinating nonetheless.

Runyon Canyon 020

Continue the hike through the old tennis courts and foundations of the area’s former athletic and residential buildings. After you pass through the gate that marks the end of the park’s off-leash area, take a right hand turn to head back to the Vista entrance.

*** For more information on Runyon Canyon, check out this site.

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Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor at Modern Hiker
In addition to writing about the outdoors since 2006, Casey has also been producing and writing television since 2003.He was the Head Writer on G4's "Attack of the Show," co-writer and host of "The MMO Report," and the Series Producer / Head Writer of pivot's "TakePart Live."His work has received several honors, including Webby, Telly, and CableFAX awards.
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72 Comments

  • Pam says:

    What other hikes can you recommend besides Runyon in the LA/Long Beach/Irvine area? I just did the Inca Trail hike so perhaps looking for a bit more of a challenge than Runyon. ;)

  • Glenn says:

    I live near Runyon and go there several times a week. It’s a great workout and very convenient to my home. I think your stereotyping of the people who go there is a bit overblown. If you go on a weekday afternoon, you will see maybe a dozen people in the whole place, and they are just regular folks. I don’t think anyone is claiming it’s a rustic wilderness hike. It’s an urban park for goodness sakes. And if you go at sunset, you will get a spectacular view of the lights of the city that I don’t think you’ll get in the wilderness.

  • Tom O says:

    Hi Casey. Love your site. have discovered some great hikes here!!! trying to post in the runyon canyon discussion, but captcha not working for me for some reason. I was going to post this: “hey I think some of these comments are a bit too harsh on Runyon Canyon. I love this place. I love to hike, but don’t always – in fact rarely – have time to take half a day and go for a more challenging hike. Enter Runyon. Its close by, it gives you a great workout with fantastic views of the city and you always feel better for having done it. You can often catch some great snippets of conversation as you pass other hikers, (or in my case, when they pass me). Runyon looks different at different times of day. Try timing it so you’re coming down at dusk, just as the lights of the city are turning on. LA looks magical and full of promise.”

  • Ricky says:

    I just moved to LA and I love to hike. I was hesitant at first to go to Runyon because I’m use to remote nature filled hikes. Anyways I decided to check it out due to its close proximity and really fell in love with the place. It really is a quintessential LA hike. Views of Mansions, Mid-City, Downtown and of the course the Hollywood sign! I felt like a tourist in my own city! What other major American city has such a great hiking trail smack dab in the middle? As for nature filled ocean view hikes stick to Malibu and Santa Barbara. But if you’re looking for a quick break from traffic and a good workout Runyon Canyon is not too shabby just be sure to be “on point” when picking out your hiking outfit!

  • Neysa Simangunsong says:

    Do you happen to know the trail where the top lays two rocks hugging?

  • RayJay says:

    I agree! 100% Runyon is not a hike. I would call it a….. Social gathering. It is what everyone thinks of LA. Fufu dogs, muscled men, chatty women, constant filming, and tons of yoga mats. I get so angry every time a visitor comes into town and my girlfriend suggests “Runyon canyon”. It’s a turn around and roll my eyes kind of moment. San Gabriel’s are fantastic, and with a short drive north (25 minutes) you will have seclusion, nature, and REAL leg busting trails. Oh also, don’t forget to do your hair and wear a matching outfit for Runyon. After all, it is LA :)

    • Celia says:

      When I read your posting it made me laugh, I went this weekend and said the same thing. I was the only person there with hiking boots. There were lots of ladies dressed to kill with their cute little dogs thinking that their pets are sooooo special that they don’t have to be kept on a leash even though its the law. No matter how fufu this place is, I still really liked it.

      • Modern Hiker says:

        Glad you liked it, Celia … When I did the write-up I wanted to make sure people knew this wasn’t a peaceful, solitary hike – but I actually really like doing Runyon, too. It’s a great workout and has really wonderful views after a good rain. It’s also close and accessible to a lot of people, and many Angelenos’ first experience hiking in L.A. And hey, a popular hike is better than no hike at all, right?

    • violet says:

      If you want seclusion in Runyon all you have to do is go to the big house, go through the gates and walk down the road. If you look down there is another path that will take you out to the same vantage point as Runyon only not as high. Great spot for pictures and watching the sunset. You can also enter at the gate on Nichols Canyon, can’t miss the dirt parking area. :) Enjoy! I really don’t call ponytail, cutoffs, tank top, & sneakers making a fashion statement. You are correct this is L.A., the one city in the USA that I can dress any way I want and not think twice about it. By the way the Nichols Canyon gate will allow you to access all of Runyon Canyon as well. Have fun!

  • hiking with a child says:

    to all those who hate on runyon saying its not a real hike…put some weight on your back and try it again! i am a single mom with no help from her dad, therefore a gym is out of the question along with any expensive hiking trip so…i take my 30lb 2 year old and carry her up that damn hill on my back and i definitely feel the burn!! who ever is saying its for lazy people…you better have an amazing body to back that up with!

  • Ranger Ernie Ybarra says:

    A message from the Park Ranger City of Los Angeles. Please pay attention to the signs that have been posted throw out the park and all enternces. If you have a dog it must be on leash when you come into the park from any location. When you read the signs it will tell you when you can have the dog off leash. Some of you have meet me and talked to you. It makes the experence for others and yourself more pleasent.
    If you have any questions or conserns please feel free to e-mail, thank you.

  • David - Runyon Canyon says:

    here you go.

  • John Runyon says:

    discovered*

  • John Runyon says:

    o.o my last name is runyon o.o anyone know if this was actually like i guess created or like discover and named by any one with the last name of runyon? o.o

  • Wendy says:

    I’m glad you gave Runyon a shot. Still it always hurts my heart when people are negative toward the hike (unlike others I have no problem calling it a hike). I’m so thankful it is available to me. As an active single woman with a dog it is a PERFECT hike. I don’t feel safe hiking (or “real” hiking as some of your readers would put it) alone on other LA trails as they can be secluded and isolated and all those other wonderful descriptive words self proclaimed “hikers” have used here. Most of my friends are less active than I am and a 2x/week “hike” is not possible due to timing and/or the physical activity would kill them (I once took a friend from NY up the Spine @ Runyon and had a few moments when I though she’d never make it. Despite what others think it can be a challenge for many people). My adorable dog and I are often on our own. Even with a fully stocked hiking day pack I’m much more comfortable knowing there are others around if I should need help. I’ve lost my footing at Runyon before and I recently saw hikers being rescued via helicopter on the Spine. It is also nearly impossible to hike with a dog on leash. It isn’t fun for the hiker and not fun for the dog. Legal or not mine is off leash during hiking. This, understandably, makes some fellow hikers either uncomfortable or unhappy. At Runyon I can hike without the snarky (again I realize it is illegal and this folks are technically right) comments asking about my leash. Runyon gives both me and my dog freedom! Hike without the dog you say? Nope. That is one of the reasons I choose that as my weekend activity. It gives us both exercise and I get to spend time with him. If I don’t bring him I’d rather be at the pool or jogging around the Rose Bowl.

    I give a big ol’ thumbs down to anyone who says the views aren’t fantastic. I have pictures to prove it and will happily send them along.

    Finally those that go there should understand it is an off leash dog park (this is for those reviewers — and they are out there by the dozens — who complain about the number of dogs and dog related smells). If you are afraid of dogs you should choose another path … just hope that I don’t have a friend with me that day for my hike or you might meet the adorable Riggins off leash where he isn’t supposed to be!

  • David says:

    As a snobby real hiker, I can tell you this ain’t hiking. I come out here two or three times a week for training runs since I work nearby. The issue for me is really one of distance and the fact that most people take the fireroad up. From a practical perspective all the enjoyment of a real hike is lost, the canyon isn’t very pretty, views of a city aren’t what I’m looking for when I go hiking, and the quantity of people and dogs ruins any serenity that you may be looking for. If this is what it takes to get you into it then go for it but for what most hikers cherish about their craft you need a nice Baldy or San. G. climb to experience it.

  • Alexandra says:

    Well I’m a east coast to west coast transplant as well (from South East Florida) and I just want to say a big thank you to this website/blog, because it’s encouraged me to get out into the beautiful backyard of LA.

    I’d say Runyon is more of a “flower bed” in the front yard of Los Angeles, but hey – the trails got me in good enough shape and accustomed enough to actual “terrain” (yea, I didn’t realize pavement wasn’t exactly natural – lol) in order to venture out to the Hollywood Sign (Griffith Park) hike.

    I like ascending Runyon via the fast and steep path and then I like heading up to the “advanced” trails by the abandoned mansion and around that crazy steep little “cliff hanger” – area that takes you up to a high peak where someone installed a “prayer box”.

    All in all Runyon is what you make of it – it’s a dog park, a work out trail, a jogging trail and a beginner hardcore hiker / hill scrambler trail. I’ll still wind up using this trail for when I just need to get out of my apartment and into nature in a jiffy, but now I’m on to exploring all the intermediate trails in the area :)

    • Modern Hiker says:

      Thanks, Alexandra! Hearing stories like yours is one of the main reasons that keeps me updating the site!

      I hope you find lots of good trails on here. Hiking is what made ME fall in love with LA, and hopefully it will do the same for you!

  • Kareem says:

    RUNYON CANYON

  • Chris says:

    First time…OMG…what a work out… I Love it… !!!! Just one minor thing; I LOVE dogs, but they are everywhere, large, small and tiny. The big ones I am ok with because I can see and and run around them. The small dogs are a and then the TINY dogs are a challenge!!!! Throughout my run, I jumped over two and almost smashed one…Thank GOD for fast reactions. The poor little fellow looked at me as if to say….”…PLEASE DON’T STEP ONE ME SIR…”

    Overall, I love it up there and will return as soon as I recover…. : )

    • Modern Hiker says:

      Chris,

      Glad you were able to get a good workout without stepping on any Hollywood Fashion Dogs! Runyon is a nice refresher for the legs, but it’s definitely crowded. If you like this trail, try going earlier in the day, or checking out one of the nearby runs like Fryman Canyon or something in the Verdugo Mountains. They’re still popular, but usually not as crowded as Runyon.

  • Chris says:

    Why do they call it a canyon when it’s a mountain?

  • Asian Guy says:

    I do runyon occasionally and the biggest reason i love it is because it’s convenient. I want my hike to be as convenient as suiting up and heading to the gym because when things are convenient, you are more prone to do it routinely since it’s not a huge task to get ready for runyon. I live 15min away from Runyon, park my car up on Mulholland area (free parking), put on my weight vest and spend an hour of my time doing this pretty strenuous (again – conditioning vest with that kind of elevation isn’t an easy task) trail. All in all – I can hit my boxing gym 4-5x a week, hit runyon once a week on a sunny saturday morning and it definetely puts a toll on my body!

  • Mike says:

    Thanks for the information on Runyon Canyon. I visit the area quite a bit and now I will be able to sneak away for a short hike.

  • Rosabel Tao says:

    On Labor Day, I was walking my friend’s small dog, Nigel, in Runyon. Suddenly, an angry pit bull came running out from a side trail and brutally attacked Nigel. He sunk his teeth in Nigel’s neck and wouldn’t let go. 3 guys tried to pull the dog off to no avail. Finally, a good samaritan came running up the hill and pull the pit’s hind legs from under him, which caused him to open his mouth and drop Nigel. Nigel was badly wounded and we rushed him to the vet, but unfortuantely, he did from his wounds. The owner of the Pit Bull claimed it was her friend’s dog. She gave us the name of the owner as Charles Holton at 661-753-3383, but the phone number ws disconnected. The Pit Bull is a white dog named Caspar. If anyone has information that would help us identify the owner, please contact me at [email protected]. There was a local TV news story about this: http://cbs2.com/video/?id=[email protected]. Thank you.

  • Ăšlfur Engil says:

    Not too long ago, I was staying with a friend who lives not terribly far from where that iron-gated entrace stands.
    I would go for a run every morning, and I ended up discovering it entirely by accident, and decided to make an attempt to run both up and down the path. I found that experience quite invigorating, and found myself doing this several times while staying in the area.

    (Mind you, the first time certainly kicked my backside good and proper….)

  • JSL says:

    Just wanted to let you know that another website has completely plagiarized your work: http://www.runyonromp.com. Thanks for all the information.

  • Mon says:

    I am visiting from Florida, staying in Century City. I asked the concierge a place to go for a hike and they suggested Runyon. I didn’t have a car so I took a city bus (which was remarkably clean and accessible) to LeBrea/Santa Monica and walked up to the park which added an extra mile or so each way to my work out. I too wouldn’t consider it necessarily a rugged hike, growing up in NC I am accustomed to the Appalachian Mountains. However, the fact that I was by myself made it nice to have multiple hikers around. The concierge mentioned other trails he would not send me to because I was alone and if I sprained an ankle I wouldn’t see another hiker for a while. I found the uphills to be somewhat challenging and the views spectacular. I don’t love the houses along the trail but one of them had 3 horses in the back yard so that was fun to see. I hadn’t heard that it would be a celebrity spotting place but as I was climbing it crossed my mind, “I wouldn’t be surprised to run into Matthew McConaughey on a run out here.”

  • Alan says:

    My wife’s friend recommended doing this hike since it was dog friendly. And, after reading your review, we decided to give it a shot this past Sat. We enjoyed it for what it is… a nice urban hike set in the middle of the city. We got there around 8am and parking was tough to find, it was already crowded, the faint smell of dog urine was throughout with “bombs” on the ground if you didn’t watch your step. :) Don’t get me wrong, we had a nice workout and our dog really seemed to like it as well. If you’re expecting fresh air, seclusion and the sounds of nature, you’ll be disappointed for sure. Take it for what it is, and you might even see a celeb or two!

  • RunyonFan says:

    Great review.
    Its called Runyon Canyon Park, not Mt. Everest Park.
    Hikers who expect a ‘hike’, are looking at the wrong map.
    Great place to walk the loop with your friend(whom likes dogs) or dog.
    If you’re going for the view, go on a clear day.
    If you’re going for a run, go before 7:30am. Its a LOT cooler.
    Go in the early morning to see wild life. Love to see the fog in the valley.
    I saw 5 rabbits, 2 squirrels & 1 gopher one early morning.

  • scott says:

    thanks for the great review. i’m going to check this out soon!

  • John says:

    Run up to the trail, run to the top (no, don’t walk), run back to the bottom, and back to your house or hotel (6 miles from where I usually stay) and tell me you don’t have a great workout and buzz from the whole experience. Your heart rate will jack to the max. I am a marathon runner who lives in NYC and I found this last trip and I can’t wait to do it again. Nice and dry out west vs. the humidity of the east and you guys shouldn’t take this resource for granted!

  • Modern Hiker says:

    Runyon’s fine, it’s just not what a lot of hikers would consider hiking. I agree with you that anytime anyone’s outside being active, it’s a benefit to everyone, but if you’re looking for solitude or interesting landscapes – like many hikers do – you ain’t gonna get ‘em here. Even though it’s still popular, Fryman Canyon – just over the Hills – is a much more enjoyable trail in my opinion.

    I will say, however, that the dusk view from the top of Runyon – as the LA lights start popping up on our giant urban grid – is pretty amazing and definitely worth seeing.

  • bunchalosers says:

    I see alot of “Runyon” bashing here. What are ya’ll complaining about? Exercise sucks all the way around. Who cares where you do it, what the view is or how close or far it is from “H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D”. Kudos to everyone whose out moving opposed to home sitting on thier fat, high cholesterol, diabetic, cellulite asses!!!! If I lived closer I’d go…but I settle for the sand dune (yes dune, plural) in Manhattan Beach.

  • Urthman says:

    If you bring your I-pod and take the high trail… you actually can get some sense of seclusion up in Runyon. It’s busier up there than it used to be, back in the day… but it’s a close-in way to get some outdoor cardio and fresh air, with breezes blowing off the coast and no car fumes!

  • to hollywood neighbors says:

    youre loaded enough to live in hollywood but not loaded enough to go hiking? hmmm.

  • Mike says:

    I’m from the Chicago area as well and must say the mountains here in CA are still a novelty for me even after living here for five years.
    Runyon Canyon opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. I could be wrong about this but I know that Griffith Park operates on that schedule.
    Runyon Canyon is a funny place indeed. I feel the terrain offers a good challenge for training and the view of suburban sprawl helps to remind us how important protected wilderness areas are. If you like Runyon Canyon then make sure to try out the trail through Griffith Park to the top of Mt. Hollywood (the peak next to the Hollywood sign. The Hollywood sign in on Mt. Mark). I like this trail better. Note that there is not alot of shade on these trails; so be sure to avoid them during the middle of the day during hot weather.

  • kim says:

    hello! i wwant to know what time Runyon Canyon close? thanks!

  • Kim says:

    I’m from Chicago & recently took the “hike” up Runyon Canyon. Coming from Chicago, trails like this do not exist. For me, the view & the exercise was wonderful. If I lived in LA, I’d be there everyday.

  • Paul Antony says:

    hi jes! i bet it really is enjoyable if you’re close to hollywood.. ooh how i wish i could hike there too!

  • Jes says:

    I love runyan!! I hike up and run down. When I do this at least 4 times a week and notice how much easier it gets every-time. Yeah its close to the hustle and bustle of hollywood but for those of us who are really there to work out its quite enjoyable.

  • Nigel Burke says:

    i agree, the bench is definitely better if it’s empty!

  • Steve says:

    This article completely misses the point of what Runyon means to the people who frequent it. I am sure his next article will summarize his inability to escape civilization hiking in Central Park. Go there yourself and appreciate the views and the challenging west trail.

  • Jamie says:

    Thanks for the article. I live in BC, Canada and we have some amazing hiking. I used to live in and around Vancouver and the Squamish both have amazing rain forest type hikes. I understand the need for isolation and natural beauty when going on a hike. That being said, I do think the Canyon offers some spectacular views and is very pretty in its own right.

    I understand the perspective and humor of the writer. But when I go down to CA I’ll be hiking this canyon for sure. Can’t wait to see the iconic Hollywood sign in person.

  • Random Hiker says:

    Haters! Dam! I live two lights away from Runyon and I go there as much as I can with my lab mix. Sorry im not some well accredited hiker, but being from FL, which is completely flat, I think Runyon Canyon is beautiful, convenient, and worth it. Although more remote places outdoors are ideal, I will work with what I got and appreciate it.

  • Jessica says:

    i totally understand the writers purpose…i lived in boulder colorado previously so runyon is not what i would call a majestic scene. esp with that hideous, empty mansion at the top! but i love the humor in this. dog piss and over tanned teens aside, i still hit the canyon when i want a close and good push for my body. i recommend taking the west side up and the easy middle way down. good hour of pumping legs and arms. and nice view!

  • Modern Hiker says:

    If you read the actual description of Runyon, I am aware that Runyon is not for me, but I’m glad that it’s there. People who are looking for a “hiking experience” inside L.A. would be better serviced by other local routes like Solstice, Topanga, or even Bear Canyons. I know if I were searching for a hiking trail and someone told me to go to Runyon, I’d be disappointed.

    But, like I say in this write-up, getting outside for any reason is better than running the track at Ballys.

    Oh, I’m also not loaded. But thanks for thinking that.

  • hey there.
    Not everyone is loaded enough to take hiking trips whenever they feel like it. Stop being a jack ass and remember us folk who like to step out of the 4 walls of a gym once and a while you pompus ASS!!!!!!

  • Will says:

    Oh Los Angeles the capital of convenience, how far can mankind take laziness, soon they will consider the Strand a hiking destination

  • Laura says:

    Hey there — I’m glad you did this recon mission before I did. I’ve resisted “hiking” Runyon for the same reasons: it just doesn’t feel like a hike when you’re that close to Sunset Blvd. Heck, I live a block from Sunset (though notably further East).

    I’ve been very negligent of my hiking duties lately. To my credit, I tried to hike in Romania last month but got food poisoning and had to sit it out. BF took some good pictures, though.

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