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5 Best Hiking Trails Around Los Angeles

Los Angeles may seem like a primarily urban destination, but there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking in the area. Get out and enjoy a taste of nature on these exciting trails around LA.

Bridge to Nowhere

The Bridge to Nowhere in the San Gabriel Mountains

Image via Flickr by bdearth

A trek to the Bridge to Nowhere is an all-day adventure. This 10-mile out-and-back hike follows the San Gabriel River on the East Fork Trail. It crosses the river multiple times, so you should be prepared to get your feet wet. You may even want to plan for a swim at some point during your journey. You’ll face a total ascent of 1,870 feet to an elevation of 2,755 feet at the trail’s highest point. 

This hike culminates in your arrival at the Bridge to Nowhere. This 120-foot bridge was originally constructed in 1936 to connect the San Gabriel Valley to Wrightwood. Flooding washed out the road in 1938, leaving only a bridge with no place to go. Today, the bridge is the site of a commercial bungee-jumping operation, so you can add a daredevil leap to your day’s agenda if you’re looking for a truly breathtaking adventure. 

This hike takes about six hours, but you should allow for extra time if you want to swim, picnic, or bungee jump during your trek as well. To hike through the Sheep Mountain Wilderness here, you will need to get a free Wilderness Pass from one of the ranger stations in the forest.

Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park

Santa Susana Pass State Park sits at the juncture of the Santa Susana Mountains and Simi Hills in the northwestern corner of Los Angeles. Deep canyons and narrow ridges create a thrilling landscape for hikers who want a challenging trek or particularly scenic adventure. The narrow pass through the mountains here has long served as an essential route for trade and transportation. An early wagon road provided a pathway for Spanish governors to branch out with a network of missions. This route also served as the primary road between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Hiking through Santa Susana Pass is like taking a trip back through time. Mindful of the challenges that previous parties faced, you can appreciate the hazards of the trail more deeply. The park has a spiderweb of trails that offer a seemingly endless range of adventures. The Old Stagecoach Road is one of the must-see options. This is a 2.9-mile loop that’s heavily trafficked and easy to follow. It’s accessible year-round, so you can count on a satisfying hike here any time.

The best way to access this trail is to park at the southern end of the park along Andora Avenue. The first 0.3 miles follow an arroyo before the trail opens up to the hills. You’ll continue straight until you’ve walked a little over a mile, then take a sharp left toward the mountains. Here you’ll find the Old Stagecoach Road, where wagons made the challenging journey through the hills. 

You’ll come upon a rocky stretch known as “The Devil’s Slide” where the steep rocks caused wagon wheel brakes to continually spark, and travelers often had to walk behind the wagons ready to throw rocks in the path and stop the wheels should the brakes fail. This was also a popular spot for bandits to catch travelers unaware. Though you don’t have to face those threats now, this hike still offers a thrilling experience.

Charlie Turner Trail

If you’re interested in a short and easy hike, the Charlie Turner Trail is a good pick. This trek begins in the Griffith Park Observatory parking area. You’ll head north from here over the Vermont Canyon Road tunnel and around a 180-degree bend to the summit. From here, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. You can head back from this point for a mile-long hike or connect to other surrounding trails and extend your journey.

Hiking Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon is a fun Hollywood hike with views of the famous Hollywood sign and a high potential for celebrity sightings. On a clear day, you can see all the way from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Channel Islands from portions of the trail. 

There are three easy ways to enjoy Runyon Canyon. You can take an out-and-back hike to the scenic Inspiration Point viewpoint and cover about 1.6 miles if you’re looking for a short excursion. By looping around from Inspiration Point, you can add 0.2 miles to your hike and enjoy some new sights to the trail. If you’re interested in a longer hike, you’ll cover about 3.5 miles by continuing past the viewpoint and circling all of Runyon Canyon Park. 

You’ll encounter at least 500 feet of climbing on any of these routes. If you take the extended loop, you’ll experience 800 feet of elevation change. If you want minimal length and elevation change, another alternative is to start from Mulholland Drive and hike just 0.85 miles to the top of the park, covering 200 feet of elevation change.

This is a wildly popular trail and can be crowded at times. It’s great for views, but less than ideal if you want to escape the bustle and enjoy a peaceful nature hike, so make your trail selection accordingly.

Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park

Paradise Falls is accessible via multiple trails, so you can customize this adventure to suit your needs. You can use a 2.55-mile loop that includes a cave, a short 2.15-mile out-and-back route, or a 4.35-mile route that includes Lizard Rock. The trails toward Paradise Falls are well-marked, so you can reach this destination along nearly any route by following the signage.

The falls themselves plunge 40 feet into a clear pool. Though it’s tempting to take a dip, swimming and climbing are prohibited here, as the water is fed partially by street runoff. Stick to poolside pictures instead.

Did we include your favorite hiking trails on this list? If we missed a great destination for LA hiking, contact our team at Teak Master and let us know so we can update our recommendations and always offer the best suggestions for our clients.

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