10 of the best hiking trails in Los Angeles

10 of the best hiking trails in Los Angeles
Source: Pexels, Simon Migaj

Picking the best hiking trails in Los Angeles isn’t difficult since they all have merit and beauty. However, narrowing down that list of best hiking trails in Los Angeles to only 10 poses more of a challenge. Whether you want a natural experience within the city or out in the Santa Monica Mountains, California has a diverse selection of scenery for everyone.

Ability level isn’t an obstacle either. Some trails require experience while others are accessible to beginners. Break out those hiking boots and pick a hike from our top 10 best hiking trails in the City of Angels. Keep in mind that some of these trails may have closures due to the pandemic.

Bronson Canyon

Skip the bus tour of LA and get some exercise outside. This trail is a Los Angeles hiking staple. It has fantastic views of the Hollywood Holy Trinity (the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory and Bronson Cave). If you’re itching to get up close and personal with the Hollywood sign, then read on to number nine.

Bronson Canyon doesn’t only check three landmarks off your bucket list; it leads to the man-made tunnel entrance of the Batcave in the 60s “Batman” TV series. The out-and-back trail begins from Canyon Drive and only runs for a little over half a mile. Fluffy companions permitted.

The Wisdom Tree, Cahuenga Peak and Mount Lee Summit Loop

While longer than Bronson Canyon, this trail is only a moderate four-mile loop, though the nearly 1,500 feet of elevation gain might wind you. The wild flowers will make the climb worth it. Make sure to pack sunscreen and water, as the lack of shade might dehydrate you, especially in the SoCal summer heat. Remember to take pictures with the Instagram star, the Wisdom Tree, at the top.

The Grotto Trail

Get ready for a messy scramble into a picturesque grotto. No, the frogs won’t sing “Kiss the Girl” to you like you’re Disney’s favorite mermaid, and Gollum isn’t lurking behind a boulder stroking the Ring, but the standing water and mysterious caves won’t disappoint. What’s unique about this trail is that you have to descend first and ascend on the way back. Only a three-mile trek, the Grotto Trail demands a family expedition.

Les Liones Canyon

Turn on Miley Cyrus and head over to this lesser known Santa Monica trail. Ivy drapes over the trees on this 2.6-mile Los Liones trail sets you up for a morning stroll on the weekend, although you can opt for the more strenuous seven-mile loop to the Parker Mesa Overlook.

Trail Canyon Falls

The San Gabriel Mountains have so much to give any explorer or nature-lover, including this four-mile round trip hike on Trail Canyon Trail that gains 700 feet of elevation and ends at a spectacular 30-foot waterfall. You don’t normally think of freshwater, especially not waterfalls, when picturing SoCal hikes. Check out all of the Los Angeles waterfall hikes for more information on where to escape the desert. If you don’t like snakes, you may want to avoid Trail Canyon Falls, unless your love of sycamore trees outweighs your slithering fears.

Switzer Falls

In order to stand under Switzer Falls, you must first hike the almost four-mile round trip Gabrielino Trail near Pasadena, CA. Get here at dawn before the swarms of humans appear. The babbling brook and historic ruins don’t seem as mystical when surrounded by obnoxious hikers with UE booms strapped to their day packs. Make sure you purchase a National Parks Pass or Adventure Pass in order to park by the trailhead.

Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak and Tri Peaks

One of the longest hikes on this list, Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak and Tri Peaks ranks as moderate and may challenge beginning hikers. The low coastal scrub, the rock formations, the cliffs and the views of the Pacific Ocean makes it a trail you can hike over and over and still notice new phenomena. Keep an eye and an ear out for birds, and if you choose to take you fluffy companion, remember to keep said fluff on a leash.

Bridge to Nowhere

All outdoorsy Angelinos adore Bridge to Nowhere, a local abandoned bridge over the San Gabriel River in the San Gabriel Mountains. You travel along river fords on this 10-mile round trip hike with 900 feet of elevation gain in order to reach the bridge. This requires a full day to complete and thoroughly enjoy. Bring a swimsuit for a hot day. You must acquire a wilderness permit and a national forest day use pass to hike to Bridge to Nowhere.

Griffith Park Hollywood Sign

Hike to the Hollywood sign from one of Griffith Park’s trails. The terrain consists primarily of rolling hills filled with chaparral and star-studded giant letters.

Mount Baden-Powell Trail

This heavily-trafficked trail in Angeles National Forest spans eight miles and is recommended only for experienced adventurers. Named after the founder of Boy Scouts, Mt. Baden-Powell Trail overlaps with the Pacific Crest Trail and offers panoramic views of the San Gabriel Mountain. The prime season for this trail spans October to March.

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