If you’re just getting started hiking in L.A., it can be kind of a daunting experience. Whether it’s from a guidebook, a friend who already hikes, or (preferably) from Modern Hiker, there are plenty of good ways to find out about all of the hiking opportunities we Angelenos have. But how do you find some easy trails that won’t knock you out, but will still give you a sense of adventure? Right here!
Usually, the first obstacle to overcome in hiking doesn’t have to do with hiking at all – but rather, driving to the trailhead. If you don’t want to spend too much time in the car before you get your boots on the ground, there are still a few great hikes that are close to the urban landscape … depending, of course, on where you find yourself bunkered down in this sprawl of ours.
Fryman Canyon offers a wide dirt path, a gently sloping elevation gain, and lots of shade. It’s smack dab in the middle of the Hollywood Hills, and it’s got a nature center run by the Tree People, who often have events and gatherings. A great place for families to cut their teeth … or heels.
As much as I disparage it, for its crowds, its dog defecation, and because the people who go there tend to be more “fitness-oriented” than “hiking-oriented,” Runyon Canyon is a pretty convenient way to get started hiking. If you keep your pace up, the loop around the outside of the park is a decent training hike for more difficult inclines later. On a hot day, you’ll definitely sweat off a few pounds on this shadeless trail — as long as you don’t mind people talking on cell phones while you’re hiking.
For another shaded, easily graded path, head to Solstice Canyon. It’s a nice walk in the woods that ends up at the well-preserved ruins of a burned-down mansion, complete with small waterfall and statue garden. If the easy hike in got you energized, there’s an option to turn the return trip into a loop with a slightly more strenuous route above the canyon floor.
For east coastal views, it’s tough to beat Charmlee Wilderness Park in Malibu. The grassy meadows roll out just to the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific, and the wildflower shows in the spring are out of this world, and the small but extensive trail system will give you lots of options.
If you’re in the Valley – or if you just want a peak at a landscape that differs from the coastal green, rolling hills, head up to Rocky Peak. The strange boulder formations are about as close to Joshua Tree as you can get without the 2 hour drive, and the wide path loops up to some great views of the surrounding area. Just make sure if you’re going during the summer to head out early in the morning and bring lots of water. No shade on this hike!
And if you’re in the mood for waterfalls, you’re going to want to check out Eaton Canyon as well as Bear Canyon’s Switzer Falls. Both are short trails to impressive cascades … at least by San Gabriel standards. The Eaton Canyon trailhead is at the edge of Pasadena, while Bear Canyon is just inside the Angeles National Forest … a place you’ll hopefully be spending lots more time in now that you’ve got the hiking bug!
Does anyone else out there have recommendations for an easy hike for hiking greenhorns?
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