One of the most beautiful and serene things to do in Los Angeles is hiking. City parks offer stunning skyline views, while scenic trails in Solstice Canyon and Vasquez Rocks offer the opportunity to get out of the city and find peace.
Los Angeles is a great base to return to after your favorite hikes or ones you want to check off your bucket list, whether it's to hit the bars or take in the awe-inspiring spectacle of one of our mind-boggling shows.
Los Angeles Area Hiking Trails:
1. Runyon Canyon
Head to the popular Runyon Canyon for the quintessential LA hiking experience. The trails here offer panoramic views of the city, the iconic Hollywood Sign, and even the Santa Monica Mountains on a clear day. It can be a little crowded, but that’s simply a sign that it’s one of the best hikes Los Angeles has to offer.
Hiking around Runyon Canyon Park requires moderate effort. It’s about 3.5 miles in total, with about 500 feet of climb, and it should take you about 2 hours at a gentle pace. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, you can walk the 1.6 miles out and back to the viewpoint.
You won’t cut out any climb that way, but you’ll get beautiful views for what is usually less than an hour of hiking.
The park is free to enter, but it has no bathrooms or parking lot. Get here early and you’ll probably find street parking, which is free. Runyon Canyon Park is right in the heart of the city, only a 20-minute drive (about 8.5 miles) from downtown LA and within walking distance if you’re staying in Hollywood.
2. Griffith Park Trails
With so many parks in Los Angeles, the city offers plenty of hiking trails. Next on our LA hikes checklist are the diverse trails and skill levels of Griffith Park, including the Griffith Observatory hike and the rugged paths up to the Wisdom Tree. Enjoy gorgeous views of the city and the iconic Hollywood Sign.
Got a message to deliver to the Wisdom Tree? You can reach this towering pine by following the Burbank Peak Trail up to Griffith Park’s tallest point. Begin by walking up Wonder View Drive, which is a very gentle slope. Unfortunately, things don’t stay so easy — the next half-mile is a single track that climbs 570 feet.
Quieter than other LA hikes, this steep but short climb provides the perfect opportunity to get away from the crowds.
Less than 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, this vast park is a great place to reconnect with nature, and all the Griffith Park Trails are free to hike.
3. Hollywood Sign Hike
Follow the Hollywood Sign – Hollywood Reservoir Loop for an up-close encounter with the iconic Hollywood Sign. This trail takes in not only the Hollywood Sign but also Lake Hollywood and three peaks on the west side of the park. This 7.4-mile hike is free, but you’ll need a sturdy pair of shoes, as you’ll be walking for more than 2 hours.
The gates around the reservoir are locked at sunset, so give yourself plenty of time to finish. Once you’re done, it’s a 10-mile trek back to downtown LA for dinner or an acrobatic show.
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4. Bronson Caves
The next hike on our list includes a setting you’ve probably seen dozens of times before, although you might not realize it. The Bronson Caves have appeared in movies and TV shows over and over again, including as the entrance of the Batcave from the Batman series.
If you want to take a selfie in this famous movie set, don’t worry — the trail to get there is very easy. Begin on Canyon Drive, turn left into a quarry, and you’ll see the cave ahead of you. With just 50 feet of elevation, even those with no head for heights can enjoy this trail. It’s also a very short hike, with the round trip totaling no more than two-thirds of a mile.
5. Griffith Observatory
Are you an avid hiker but traveling with people who’d rather spend an afternoon strolling around some of the museums in Los Angeles? The hike to Griffith Observatory is a great compromise. Located high on the bluff of Mount Hollywood, this fascinating space museum offers scientific delights in addition to stunning views.
As you hike up the sweeping trail from Fern Dell, you’ll catch glimpses of the art deco observatory building up ahead, motivating you to keep going. Allow yourself a couple of hours to look around the museum before returning along the dirt path. If you have time, check out the Fern Dell Nature Museum and grab a bite to eat at The Trails Cafe.
Hiking up the West Observatory Trail and down the East Observatory Trail is a round trip of about 1.75 miles. With 610 feet of elevation gain, it’s not a flat route, but it’s a well-managed trail that’s suitable for all the family, including leashed dogs (although you can’t bring them into the observatory). Both the trail and the Griffith Observatory are free.
6. Franklin Canyon Park
If you have an hour to spare in your Los Angeles trip between catching one of our performances and checking out the city sights, you have time to relax on the short and easy trail around Franklin Canyon Reservoir.
Franklin Canyon Park is a great place for bird-watching, as waterfowl love to hang out on the water. If the setting sparks feelings of deja vu, that might be because you’ve seen these shores before — they were featured on the opening to The Andy Griffith Show.
Franklin Canyon Park is about 13 miles from downtown Los Angeles, or an easy 30-minute drive. Be sure to put it on your list of LA hikes to check out.
7. Wilacre Park
Another great beginner hiking trail Los Angeles has to offer is the Fryman Canyon Trail in Wilacre Park. Partially paved and lovingly cared for by the park maintenance team, this 2.6-mile hike has a not-too-taxing elevation gain of 456 feet.
Clearly marked, with garbage bins along the route and restrooms and drinking fountains in the parking lot, it has everything you need, and it's only 14 miles from downtown LA.
8. Eaton Canyon Falls
Strap on your hiking sandals and get ready to cross the creek multiple times on the Eaton Canyon Falls trail (hopping over the boulders works too, if you’d rather keep your feet dry). This trail has plenty of pretty flowers to admire, but the star of the show is the waterfall, which crashes into a small pool where many hikers like to take a dip to cool off.
Eaton Canyon Falls is just 15 miles from downtown LA, but you’ll feel like you stepped into the wilderness. It’s right on the edge of the Angeles National Forest, a vast area of natural habitats that's home to all kinds of birds and creatures.
9. Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park & Nature Center
Looking for a slightly longer hike in Eaton Canyon? There’s a 7-mile trail that takes in both the waterfall and a pleasant open area called Henninger Flats. This is one for the more adventurous members of your party, as it takes nearly 4 hours.
You’ll be in full sun for much of the way, so bring plenty of water. If you enjoy being out in the open, free as an acrobat on the flying trapeze, this hike is for you.
All LA hikes in Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park are free, but if there’s space in your vacation budget you can buy souvenirs at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. Regardless of whether you decide to splash out on a rock sample, we’re sure you’ll leave with some great memories.
10. Will Rogers State Historic Park
Yeehaw, cowboy! Will Rogers State Historic Park is named after legendary cowboy-philosopher, Will Rogers. Here’s your chance to stroll through Will’s former ranch estate — complete with his historic home (preserved as a museum), stables, and a riding arena.
As for hiking, the Inspiration Point Trail is your golden ticket. This easy, 2.1-mile trail winds through coastal sage scrub and oak woodlands, leading you to a viewpoint that will wow you as you stare across Santa Monica Bay.
The trail is free, but you’ll have to pay $12 for parking. Downtown LA is about 22 miles away, and the scenic drive is worth every minute.
11. Topanga State Park
Let’s take a moment to appreciate Topanga State Park — a wild, rugged playground just 20 miles from the excitement of downtown LA. Dive into the Eagle Rock Loop for a journey that’s part wooded wonderland, part rocky adventure, and all-around awesome. You’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the sparkling Pacific Ocean.
This 6.6-mile loop is of moderate difficulty, with a mix of terrain to keep things interesting.
As usual, the trail is free, but you’ll need to pay $10 for parking. Follow the signs to Eagle Rock and follow the Backbone Trail to the Musch Trail. Watch out for mule deer!
12. Malibu Creek State Park
Follow the footsteps of movie legends (literally) through Malibu Creek State Park. This iconic landscape, filled with rugged canyons and trickling creeks, has been featured in movies such as M*A*S*H and Planet of the Apes.
Park for $12 per day, and hike to the M*A*S*H site (moderate difficulty) to take your own star-struck selfie. Malibu Creek State Park is about 35 miles west of downtown LA.
13. Escondido Canyon
The classic Escondido Canyon trail takes you on a 3.8-mile adventure to Escondido Falls. Start by passing opulent Malibu homes, and then veer onto a dirt path and follow the signs into the canyon. You might have to hop between the rocks to cross the creek if the weather has been wet lately, but that’s all part of the fun.
The waterfall itself tumbles as majestically as a team of gymnasts, culminating in a peaceful pool. Reaching the bottom of the falls is easy, but climbing up to the top is steep and somewhat challenging — and you might get wet.
You can park at the Winding Way Parking Lot for $8. It’s about 40 miles west of downtown LA.
Scenic and Natural Landmarks Near Los Angeles
As you’re hiking in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, watch out for the following landmarks. Many of the trails we’ve listed take you past these scenic sweet spots. Be sure to bring your camera!
14. Vasquez Rocks
Vasquez Rocks is a 932-acre area of rock formations in the desert, about 40 miles from downtown LA. These exciting red rocks were pushed up from the ground in prehistoric times, rising high into the sky like a Cirque du Soleil performer.
15. Solstice Canyon
Solstice Canyon Trail is the ideal place for a shady stroll in a beautiful forest, but if you’re looking for more of a challenge, head for the Rising Sun Trail. It’s a steep climb in places, but the wildlife makes it worth it.
Listen out for acorn woodpeckers hamming on ancient trunks or the cry of a red-tailed hawk. Solstice Canyon is free and located on the coast, around 30 miles west of downtown LA.
16. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Park at Baldwin Hills for $6/day, and take all the time you need to soak in the Los Angeles skyline from the Scenic Overlook. This 500-foot peak can be accessed via a steep staircase or a zigzagging trail. Only a few miles from downtown, this is one of the most accessible LA hikes.
17. Sandstone Peak
Head to the Santa Monica Mountains, 50 miles west of LA, to hike Sandstone Peak. With over 1,000 feet of elevation gain, this 6.25-mile loop isn't for novices. Experienced hikers, get ready to lace up your boots and go!
18. Castle Peak
Slightly closer at 30 miles from downtown LA, but in the same direction as the Santa Monica Mountains, is Castle Peak. Start your hike in West Hills and head through El Escorpion Park to Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve, where you’ll head through a cave and onto a tricky off-trail climb. It’s a short route at 2.1 miles, but you’ll need a good head for heights.
No fee is required to hike here.
19. Rock Pool & Century Lake Trails
In the Malibu Park State Park, the Rock Pool and Century Pool Trail is a great 4.4-mile outing. It takes in the M*A*S*H set (mentioned earlier) and also takes you to the Rock Pool, where you can enjoy a refreshing dip.
20. Inspiration Point Trail
Don’t miss the Inspiration Point Trail, which is the highlight of the Will Rogers Historic State Park.
21. Switzer Falls
Want a side of historic ruins with your hiking main course? Hike to Switzer Falls, and you’ll see the remains of Switzer Trail Camp, founded in 1884, along the way. This beautiful trail is less than 25 miles from downtown LA and of moderate difficulty. You’ll need an Adventure Pass to park here, but they only cost a few dollars.
22. Mount Baldy
Ready for the big one? At 11 miles and nearly 4,000 feet of climbing, the Mount Baldy hike is for serious hikers only. We’re not kidding; in the winter months you’ll often find snow on the summit and the winds can chill you through. Still, if you’ve been inspired by CRYSTAL to get outside in freezing weather, you’ll be rewarded.
No pass is needed to park or hike at Mount Baldy, which is about 45 miles from downtown LA.
23. Bridge To Nowhere
Bridge to Nowhere is the name given to an abandoned bridge in the San Gabriel Mountains, 40 miles from LA. There used to be a road, but since it was washed away, there’s just a trail, which leads you on a challenging 10-mile hike. You’ll need a wilderness permit to hike here.
24. Escondido Falls
Escondido Falls deserves a second mention. This delightful waterfall is not to be missed!
Embarking on Your Los Angeles Hiking Adventure
As the sun sets over the City of Angels, our expedition through the diverse hiking trails in Los Angeles comes to a close. Whether you plan to go chasing waterfalls in Escondido Canyon, seeking cowboys at Will Rogers State Historic Park, or soaking in the coastal charm at Topanga State Park, the LA hiking scene awaits.
Once you've worked up a sweat on the trails, relax with one of our awe-inspiring shows in Los Angeles.