Best Hikes in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is not a city known for its hiking — but it should be.
With a variety of distinct climate zones, fascinating geology, and nearly-perfect weather year-round, L.A. really does have something for everyone who’s looking to ditch the Walk of Fame for a forested walkabout. If you’re coming into the L.A. area as part of a vacation, I also recommend searching for lodging on UpTake Cheap Hotels.
Here is a list of some of the distinct hiking areas of the Greater Los Angeles area, with my picks for the trails that will give you the best feel for the region. As the site expands, so will this list — and remember, it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! Be sure to investigate the Trail Map for a lot more hikes in the L.A. area — currently 106 and counting …
Rounded, rolling hills and low mountains nestled near the Pacific Coast and stretching into Hollywood. Trails here generally have lower elevation gains than the San Gabriels, and are less shaded. Here, you’ll find large swaths of native California Grassland and incredible wildflower blooms in the spring.
Nearby Cities: West L.A., Santa Monica, Malibu, Topanga, Thousand Oaks, Calabasas.
- Mishe Mokwa to Sandstone Peak and Tri-Peaks: The highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, with killer views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Bay.
- Solstice Canyon: An easy hike to the ruins of a burned-down mansion.
- Sycamore Canyon: A great loop hike with huge grassland valleys and mountain views – all of the best of the mountains in one place.
Dry, rugged mountains that are a bit further from the cooling ocean breezes. Here, there’s lots of brush, scrub, and chaparral, including plenty of Spanish Bayonets — but some of the canyons shelter beautiful mountain streams and waterfalls. Some of the higher peaks may have tree cover.
Nearby Cities: Downtown L.A., Pasadena, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, Altadena, Sunland
- Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point: A winding hike on the slopes north of Altadena, that takes you along an historic railroad route to the ruins of a turn-of-the-century resort. A great hike with lots of well-preserved history.
- Santa Anita Canyon: One of the most beautiful river canyons in Los Angeles. This well-shaded trail is dotted with CCC-era cabins and capped off with a few easily-reachable waterfalls, including 50 foot tall Sturtevant Falls.
- Mount Lukens: The highest point in L.A. City Limits, reached by a no-nonsense route that’s used as a conditioning trail by hardcore hikers.
- Mount Wilson: You’ve heard about it on weather reports, now get up there on your own.
- Strawberry Peak: A taste of the Alpine Climbers’ thrill, the Mountaineer’s Route to the top of this peak will have you using hands and feet to ascent some Class Three bouldering.
When you see pictures of downtown L.A. with snow-capped mountains behind it, these are them. Rocky, rugged and tall, these peaks approach and exceed elevations of 10,000 feet, and often have snow until June or July. When the snow clears, the trails are excellent — shaded, peaceful, and secluded. Pines and cedars grow tall here, and it’s a great place to run when summer temperatures in the city get sweltering.
Nearby Cities: Palmdale, Wrightwood, West Covina, Upland, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga
- Mount San Antonio (Mount Baldy): The highest mountain in the San Gabriels, topping out at 10,064 feet. A peak that ALL SoCal hikers should bag, this mountain is imposing and exhilarating. Features a nail-biting stretch called the Devil’s Backbone, and a 75 foot seasonal waterfall.
- Bridge to Nowhere: An intense, river-hopping hike to a bizarre sight — a two-lane bridge standing in the middle of a forest canyon. Great history, great views, and a place like no other.
- The Devil’s Chair: A moderate hike to a precipice overlooking some of the most fascinating earthquake geology California has to offer.
Los Angeles’ closest National Park — a transitional desert zone with otherworldly rock formations and fantastic wildlife.
Nearby Cities: Palm Springs, Coachella, Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms
- Barker Dam Loop: An easy nature walk along the site of an old ranch. What it lacks in difficulty, it makes up for in views — there’s a dammed lake here that provides unbelievable reflections of the surrounding landscape.
- Ryan Mountain: A moderate hike to the most prominent peak near the center of the park. You’ll get incredible 360 degree views of the entire Park from this summit.
- The Maze: A backcountry hike on a new trail through a more secluded area of Joshua Tree. All the best parts of the National Park with none of the crowds.
- Queen Mountain: An off-trail scramble to a prominent northern peak. Great if you want to get your hands dirty and off the beaten path.