It’s not true that no one walks in Los Angeles. It’s easy to get away from the traffic and get in touch with nature on one of the many awesome hiking trails in Los Angeles or nearby. The following parks and trails offer charming adventures, but aren’t too strenuous for the beginner trekker.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park
At the Southern end of the 110 Freeway and east of the Port of San Pedro lies the picturesque Palos Verdes Peninsula. The area offers many trails along its gorgeous cliffs, but Abalone Cove’s Sea Dahlia trail gives hikers fantastic views of Portuguese Point and a steep 1.7-mile trek down to a peaceful rocky beach with tide pools to explore.
With the right conditions, the tide pools are teeming with sea urchins and starfish. On a clear day, there are views of Catalina Island in the distance. Wayfarers Chapel, a breathtaking non-denominational church designed by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright is located nearby. Abalone Cove charges $5 for parking; the southwest corner of the lot is closest to the trailhead. Swan Thai RPV Restaurant or the Zagat-rated Admiral Risty along Palos Verdes Drive are great spots to stop at after a hike.
Griffith Observatory West Trail, Griffith Park
Starting in the mostly flat and green Fern Dell Gardens, this 2.5-mile roundtrip hike starts off slow and has one of the best rewards: a visit to the famous Griffith Observatory, perched above L.A. on Mount Hollywood in Los Feliz, and lovely views of the Los Angeles skyline and the Hollywood sign. However, it takes some work to reach the top. The trail starts with a steep uphill climb that’s mostly on an unshaded dirt path.
The air-conditioned observatory, which is free to visit, offers a nice opportunity to cool down before heading back down the hill. Free parking is available on Fern Dell Drive in Griffith Park.
For before or after the hike, the Los Feliz neighborhood offers many delicious restaurants on Hillhurst and Vermont Avenues. The Alcove Cafe and Bakery is a destination brunch or lunch spot, Best Fish Taco in Ensenada has delicious fish tacos and horchata and Home Restaurant serves comfort food that lives up to its name.
Old L.A. Zoo, Griffith Park
True to its name, the Old Zoo, nestled inside the eastern part of Griffith Park in Los Feliz, used to be a working zoo from 1912 until it closed in 1965. The abandoned grounds are now a picnic area and host Shakespeare in the Park performances, but the cages, caves, and an old barn from its zoo era still stand, making the Old Zoo creepy and fun to explore on the half-mile hike. The San Diego Zoo scenes from the movie “Anchorman” were filmed here. Parking is free in the lot located west of the merry-go-round.
For thirsty hikers, The Griffin and Big Foot Lodge East, two of the most famous bars on Los Feliz Boulevard, are located nearby.
Runyon Canyon Park
Known as the “Beautiful People Hike,” Runyon Canyon’s trails are where Angelinos go to hike and be seen. This Hollywood park is a prime place for people-watching, for celeb-spotting or admiring the muscular shirtless men and toned ladies jogging along its many dirt and paved trails of varying lengths and difficulties. Runyon Canyon Park also hosts ofree yoga classes daily, pull-up bars to add variety to a workout and the opportunity to walk dogs off-leash. It also offers impressive views of the city below. There’s a free parking in small lot at the north entrance off Mulholland Drive. Visitors must find non-permit street upon entering through the south entrances on Fuller Ave. and Vista Ave.
Plenty of toned bodies can also be found nearby at Kitchen 24, another Hollywood hotspot, post-hike.
Garden of the Gods
While it’s not a garden at all and the “Gods” are actually marvelous giant sandstone rock formations, the Garden of the Gods in Chatsworth is a 23-acre park that was once part of the Iverson Movie Ranch, the outdoor set for “Bonanza,” “The Lone Ranger” and hundreds of other TV shows and films over the years. Today, the park sits right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Located at Santa Susana Pass Road & Topanga Canyon Blvd., the trailhead is not clearly marked and easy to miss, its starts with dirt path on Red Mesa Drive. Street parking is available on Red Mesa Drive.
Nearby, Los Toros restaurant offers Mexican fare on Devonshire Street for hikers with an appetite.
Article and photos by Mallory Carra, a Los Angeles based freelance writer.