Baldwin Hills Overlook

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View from the Baldwin Hills overlook

Baldwin Hills Overlook

  • Location: Culver City.  From Los Angeles, take I-10 west to the La Brea exit.  Head south on La Brea Blvd.  Go a mile and turn right on Jefferson.  Go a total of 1.9 miles on Jefferson (the street takes a left turn after La Cienega; if you stay straight, it becomes National Blvd.)  The trailhead is on the left side of Jefferson, at the intersection with Hetzler.  Take a U-turn and park on the side of the street.  Parking is free but it tends to get crowded.  From Santa Monica and points west, take I-10 to La Cienega.  Turn right and go 1.1 miles to Rodeo.  Turn left and go 0.3 miles to Jefferson.  Turn left and go 0.3 miles to the trailhead at the intersection with Hetzler.  From I-405, take the Sepulveda exit.  Head northeast for 3.1 miles (Sepulveda becomes Jefferson) and look for the trailhead on the right side of the road.
  • Agency: State of California/Baldwin Hills Conservancy
  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 350 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: All year (Hot during the summer)
  • USGS topo map: Hollywood
  • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
  • More information: here; trip report and photos here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 4

There aren’t many places in So-Cal that provide views of the ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood Hills, the San Gabriels, downtown L.A. and more, and even fewer of them are located right within the city, but the Baldwin Hills Overlook is just that.  Only 511 feet above sea level, its strategic location provides panoramic views on clear days, and it’s also a good workout that is very convenient to downtown L.A. and the west side.

Nature lovers and those seeking solitude might not find what they want here, but this trail should be considered as a good alternative to Griffith Park, Temescal Gateway or other hiking areas near downtown L.A. A few times up and down the hill will have even veteran hikers stopping to catch their breath.

Between Hetzler Road, the dirt foot trail and the steep staircase, there are several ways to get to and from the overlook, and they can be combined in various loop routes. There are some different trails at the top for those who want to extend the hike. The trail is probably the most pleasant way to ascend and descend, and that is the route described here.

From Jefferson, you begin climbing the switchbacks, quickly gaining altitude. At the base of the stairs, swing left and continue criss-crossing your way up the hill. You pass by the stairs several times. After the third long switchback, take a hard left (the trail straight ahead meets up with Hetzler Road.) You continue to go up, including one short but very steep stretch, and at just under a mile, after curving around the back of the overlook, you arrive. Here you can take a well-earned rest while enjoying some of L.A.’s most panoramic views.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.


    1. It’s just under a mile up the trail, and less (probably about 1/2 of a mile) walking up the stairs.

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