Though Ascot Hills Park is one of the newer outdoor areas in Los Angeles, having officially opened its gates in 2011, its origins go all the way back to 1930. The two large hills with the serene canyon in between seemed a perfect spot for a public open space, but various barriers held back its opening for generations. Several miles of trails lace the 93-acre park, allowing multiple possible routes. With clear day views that may include the Hollywood Sign, downtown Los Angeles, LAX, Catalina, Old Saddleback, San Gorgonio Mountain and the San Gabriel Mountains, the park is popular with local hikers of both the human and canine species.
The looping route described here is a good way to survey the best of the park’s scenery while getting in a workout. It may sound a little involved but navigation is easy, despite none of the trails being signed. From the higher points, you can survey virtually the entire park and as close as it is to civilization, it’s virtually impossible to get lost. The route is almost entirely exposed so plan accordingly if it’s a warm day.
Start from the lower lot by the park’s entrance and follow the dirt road past the white gate. Almost immediately, make a hard left and begin walking uphill to a junction; the start of the western loop. The lower leg hugs the ridge, providing a view of the park’s interior, while the upper leg follows the ridge, providing views of downtown Los Angeles. After completing the 0.7 mile loop, retrace your steps back down to the previous junction, turn left and head north for 0.2 miles. Turn right and continue past a six-way junction to a trail that starts climbing uphill gradually, bending back south toward the park’s entrance. Almost immediately (1.3 miles from the start) make a hairpin left turn on a narrow but clearly defined trail. It heads northeast for 0.2 miles, climbing gradually up the ridge. Turn right at the next junction and go south for another 0.2 miles. Turn left and make a short but steep climb to the highest point in the park (1.8 miles from the start, elevation 635).
After enjoying a 360-degree panorama, continue north on the ridge, descending 0.2 miles to a junction. Here you have the option of extending the hike by continuing north to another hill with several antennae. To complete the loop, take a hard left and follow the steeply descending fire road back to the six-way junction. Bear left and follow the dirt road back to the parking lot.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.