fitness & wellness · outdoor activities ·
Published August 3, 2023
14 Scenic Hikes in LA That Offer Amazing Views
Los Angeles: where you can hike for 20 minutes to take photos for 45. ⛰🤳
by Los Angeles Bucket List
Waking up at 7 AM for a Sunday morning hike is a Los Angeles right of passage. You can’t be taken seriously as a true Angeleno or even an LA transplant until an “It’s the climb” or “Adventure awaits” captioned cityscape graces your Instagram.
We get it, though—LA is one city that offers both city life and fantastic outdoor activities. We recommend starting the morning with a hike and making it back to the city for Sunday brunch. To help, we’ve gathered 14 of our favorite hikes throughout the LA area.
14 LA Hikes Worth Waking Up Early For
Hollywood Sign Hike
Possibly the most popular hike on this list leads to unobscured views of one of the west coast’s most iconic landmarks: the Hollywood Sign. There are several routes, each providing a different perspective of the sign and ranging in length and difficulty. Read on for four of our favorites.
Brush Canyon Trail
6.4 miles round trip; 1,050 feet elevation
Grab your Hydro Flask and dri-fit cap because the Brush Canyon Trail is perfect for a day hike. At its peak, you'll find a viewing area just behind the Hollywood Sign. In true Hollywood spirit, you can also take a fun side trip to the Bronson Caves, where the Batmobile was stored in the 1960s Batman TV series.
3.5 miles round trip; 750 feet elevation
One of the easiest ways to the sign, the Hollyridge Trail will get you start to finish in about an hour. However, with parking restrictions and the popularity of this trail, your hike may end up being slightly longer than you’d planned for. Just a few minutes into the hike, you’ll see the sign in all its glory, making the thirty minutes you spent circling side streets and the numerous coins you fed to the parking meter totally worth it.
Burbank Peak Trail
3 miles round trip; 875 feet elevation
Though the shortest route, the Burbank Peak Trail’s steep elevation makes it possibly the most challenging. With the rough trail, you won’t find many crowds, making your path to the “Wisdom Tree” that much more rewarding – and peaceful.
4.6 miles round trip; 750 feet elevation
Starting at Innsdale Drive, a winding of residential streets and dirt and paved trails will lead you to some of the best head-on views (read: photos) of the sign.
Trailhead: 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA (Varies depending on route)
Escondido Canyon and Falls
3.8 miles round trip; 400 feet elevation
Don’t go chasing waterfalls…unless it leads you to Escondido Canyon and Falls. Beginning just off of the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll start this hike by passing extremely extravagant Malibu homes, followed by a field of fennel and mustard and a small creek. Finally, you’ll wind up at a two-tier 200-foot waterfall. Its smaller waterfall tier is easy to reach at just 50 feet, with an upper tier reaching 150 additional feet.
Pro-Tip: Plan your hike from mid-March to early April to see the field along this trail in a spectacular super bloom.
Trailhead address: 27807 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
0.65 miles out and back; 175 feet elevation
Taking a weekend trip to Santa Barbara? The quick hike to Nojoqui Falls (pronounced Na-hoo-ee) won’t have you break a sweat, making it the perfect way to stretch your legs on your way down the 101. One of the shortest hikes on our list, this trail leads you to an enchanting 80-foot waterfall in just about 20 minutes. Though the falls are fullest in early spring, the surrounding area is still extremely picturesque throughout autumn and into winter.
Trailhead address: 3200 South Alisal Road, Nojoqui Falls Park, Gaviota, CA
Griffith Park Trails
Starting from Western Canyon: 3 to 4.8 miles round trip; 925 feet elevation
Starting from the Griffith Observatory: 1.4 to 3.2 miles round trip; 500 feet elevation
If Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling could dance through the Griffith Park Trails in La La Land, you can surely hike through them. Griffith Park is one of America’s largest parks and is home to the Hollywood Sign, Greek Theatre, and Griffith Observatory—plus incredible views of everything between the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains.
Start your hike up Mount Hollywood from the Griffith Observatory’s parking lot, or begin in the Western Canyon for a longer route.
Trailhead address: Varies per trail. Check out the Griffith Park website for more info.
3.7 miles up and back; 1,069 feet elevation
Follow the yellow brick road and purple arrows on the rocks to find your way up this challenging trail near the Simi Valley. Thanks to LA’s year-round near-perfect weather, this hike is even better from October through May.
Trailhead address: 2954-2980 Kuehner Dr, Simi Valley, CA
Roughly 6 miles round trip; 1,100 feet elevation
The Mishe Mokwa trail to Sandstone Peak is located in the Santa Monica Mountains and offers a combined view of the valley, ocean, and mountains. There are a few different routes to Sandstone Peak, but the Mishe Mokwa trail turns the hike into a loop and has countless options for adventure. Roughly 3 miles in, you’ll come across signs to Tri-Peaks. This out-and-back option (pictured above) is the ultimate photo-worthy spot.
Pro tip: Refuel post-hike at Neptune’s Net, a popular Malibu seafood restaurant nearby.
Trailhead address: 12896 Yerba Buena Road, Malibu, CA 90265
Malibu Wine Hike
There may not be a waterfall or view of the Hollywood sign waiting for you at the end of this hike…but there is wine! This leisurely Malibu Wine Hike is perfect for wine lovers or those who enjoy a little more human interaction on their excursions—two things that aren't always available with a secluded hike in the mountains.
Trailhead: 32111 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA
The Bridge to Nowhere
10 miles round trip; 2,755 feet elevation
The Bridge to Nowhere might just be the most underrated hike in LA. With the option to bungee jump at the end of this 10-mile hike through the San Angeles Forest, this one is meant for adventurers. Expect multiple river crossings (dress accordingly) that can double as swimming holes to beat the Cali heat. That being said, this area is also prone to flash floods in the winter, so make sure to check the weather beforehand and pack plenty of water because this hike is remote.
Trailhead address: Camp Bonita Rd, La Verne, CA. The trailhead starts at the end of the road, and you will need an adventure pass to park in the lot.
2.7-mile loop; 748 feet elevation
In the city of movie stars, you might just run into one while hiking Runyon Canyon. The wide popularity of this trail may have you questioning if you’ve somehow been transported to the 405 during rush hour. However, the eastern views of Griffith Observatory and views of the Pacific Ocean to the west make this heavily trafficked, dog-friendly loop a bucket list must.
Trailhead address: 2000 North Fuller Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Park to Playa
13 miles round trip; 509 feet elevation
The Park to Playa trail connects a network of trails and open spaces to the Pacific Ocean at Playa del Ray. Starting at Baldwin Hills Parklands, you'll find multiple trail access points in six segments: Stocker Corridor, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, Blair Hills – Segment C, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Culver City Park, and Ballona Creek Bike Path. The gorgeous trail opened in 2021 and offers a lower elevation with peaceful views.
Trailhead address: 34°00'57.6"N 118°22'55.4"W.
2 miles round trip; 2,375 feet elevation
Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Topanga lookout sits in the same location as a former fire tower. From the top, you can see Calabasas and the Santa Susana Mountains. A highlight for photo-seekers includes a large graffiti-covered stone. The views at sunset are unbeatable!
Trailhead address: 23300 Saddle Peak Road, Topanga Canyon, CA
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