For those of you new to hiking or new to hiking in Los Angeles, you are in for a treat this weekend – because hands down the absolute BEST time to hike in Los Angeles is right after a winter rainstorm.
The rain has a lot of effects on SoCal trails. Obviously, if it rains too much, it can cause some severe damage via mudslides and erosion, but rain also makes a lot of our coastal flora extremely fragrant and completely clears the air of smog and haze. If you can get yourself a good viewpoint on one of the first days after a good rainstorm, you will be SHOCKED at how much of Southern California you’ll be able to see – not to mention the novelty of seeing snow lightly dusted across our local mountain ranges.
Right now, the weekend forecast looks like the rain is supposed to taper off, leaving things cool and partly sunny for most of Saturday and Sunday. If you can get out to a local peak, I highly recommend it. So waterproof those boots, get over your fear of mud, and get out on the trail!
Depending on whether or not there’s a lingering marine layer, the coast will be a great place to hike:
- Topanga State Park is a great place to hike after the rain. Parker Mesa will give you sweeping views of West L.A. and the Santa Monica Bay, while Eagle Rock and Temescal Peak will let you peer into the Valley and north toward the Los Padres National Forest.
- You’ll never find me NOT recommending Sandstone Peak around here, and this is no exception. You’ll see dry creekbeds come alive with water, smell some amazingly fragrant chaparral, and have breathtaking views from the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. Take the side trip to Inspiration Point or Tri-Peaks if Sandstone looks crowded. Just don’t get stuck in the dirt parking lots if they’re flooded!
- If you’re pressed for time but still want great Pacific views, head to Charmlee Wilderness Park or make the short but steep scramble up to Mugu Peak. You’ll have views up and down the coast and clear views of the Channel Islands, as well as the mountains to the north.
And don’t worry – there are still a few inland peaks that should give you some panoramic vistas of the San Gabriels and L.A. Sprawl, too:
- Rocky Peak just outside Simi Valley is a bouldery area that’s fun to explore, and the pinnacle-like Rocky Peak is the perfect place to catch views of our Transverse Ranges.
- And if you just want a quick hike with a nice view of the city, ignore all the bad things I said about it and just make a quick hike into Runyon Canyon. The high points on either side of the canyons do offer some legitimately beautiful views, especially when the air is clear.
Be sure to check the weather before you head out, and put in a call to the local rangers or park headquarters if you think some of the trails may be washed out. Otherwise, happy hiking and soak in those views!
He has also been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and the Associated Press, as well as in documentaries for Columbia Sportswear and the OTIS College of Art and Design.
Casey is currently writing a book on day hikes in Los Angeles for Mountaineers Books.
This post was written by Casey Schreiner on January 22, 2010