Nobody hikes in L.A., do they? If you get an hour off between auditions or gigs or whatever and want to get out, you surf, you go to Pilates, you play beach volleyball…but hike!? What is this, Europe?
Well, until a few years ago, the idea of getting out and exploring some of the mountains, forests, rivers and deserts surrounding Los Angeles would have about as foreign to me as Lindsay Lohan joining the Peace Corps. Coming from a musical background, I planned on becoming a rock star when I moved to the L.A. area in 1999. But recently I have had the immense pleasure of discovering some of the great natural areas around my adopted home. I have also had many friends join me on these hikes–at first perhaps just to shut me up–and they are always pleasantly surprised at what can be found not all that far from L.A. This blog is my way of sharing my experiences.
Each write-up includes:
- Trail name(s)/destinations
- Location and driving directions
- Agency (Angeles National Forest, Channel Islands National Park, etc)
- Elevation gain
- Recommendation for time allowed
- Best time of year/day
- Fees/permits required
- USGS topo map
- External links where appropriate
- Photos where appropriate
Difficulty rating (G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17). G-rated hikes are easy, usually flat or with very little incline; great for beginners. PG-rated hikes are good for anyone who has a reasonably active lifestyle. Challenges might include steep stretches, navigation, rough terrain, or distance. PG-13 rated hikes might be classified as such because of considerable elevation gain (1,000 feet or more), distance (5 miles or more) or terrain, steepness and altitude. R-rated hikes should only be attempted by people with experience on easier trips; expect over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, distances of near (or more than) 10 miles, and other challenges. As for the NC-17 rated hikes–well, good luck!
Overall rating (from 1 to 10). As with difficulty, this is subjective, of course. Criteria include variety of scenery, wideness of views, isolation from noise and signs of civilization and more. Lower-rated hikes can still be enjoyable experiences; just don’t expect Yosemite. Hikes rated 4-6 are well worth doing if you’re in the area. Hikes rated 7, 8 and 9 are superior trips worth planning a day or to for, and the 10s are the ones you don’t want to miss.
Thus, a typical hike description might read:
Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City
- Location: Eastern part of the Land of Oz (from wreckage of farm house, follow yellow brick road west until you arrive at the Emerald City).
- Agency: Land of Oz
- Distance: 3 miles (point to point)
- Elevation gain: 200 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: All year
- Recommended gear: Red slippers; heart; brains; courage
- USGS Topo: “Oz”
- Difficulty rating: G
So that’s the blog in a nutshell. Got it?
Any suggestions, comments, questions, updates, rants and raves are welcome: email email@example.com.
Thank you for reading the blog. Now get out there and prove Missing Persons wrong!
baby, you’re hilarious. What is this, Europe?! hahaha
this just popped up in my junk email!? trails are open…will have to take baby steps. hi you two!
Hi Maria! Yeah I know sometimes NHLA can get automatically sent to junk or “social” or other labels. (At this point I’m not posting new stuff very often anyways). I’m cautiously optimistic about the opening of the trails…hopefully people will be able to have nice things this time. Hi to you and Lenny.
Oiling up my boots for the next hike! Thanks for all the great posts.
Thanks Kat! Looking forward to some more hikes.
I walk every night in Woodland Hills about an hour or so before sunset three or four miles, some hills, more if you desire.
Alone I do mindful meditation and with company talk.
Both are good, hope you will join me sometime.
Hi Scott, thanks for reading – I just might take you up on that!
I moved to woodland hills a few months ago from OC and looking for hiking buddies…just an hour or two before sunset 3-4 miles sounds perfect. I usually go to this trail next to my house that has a dog park and hiking with great views. Email me if interested.
I will be looking forward to that.
818 702 8079
Nice blog, thanks! Gave me ideas on some new places to hike. I found your site while checking my weblogs, I’ll throw up a link to your blog and on my webpage(s) and site’s facebook fanpage as a good resource. Keep up the great trail reports, it’s awesome!
Thanks for reading Cindy – more to come! I’ll try to send you guys some traffic too.
Have you read Milt McCaully’s book “Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains”?
It has about a hundred great hikes, just be aware that if he says it’s a hard hike he means it.
The descriptions of the hikes are really good.
I am surprised I never heard from anybody to join me on Secret Trail?
Looking forward to our next hike!!
Thanks Jess – me too!
I like the site. There is some great info here. I did have a quesiton, what plugin did you use to get email subscriptions? Thanks
Thanks for reading. I built the entire site (including the subscription button) through http://www.wordpress.com. It’s pretty easy to do.
Hi Dave,heard you where interested in doing Chantry Flats to Mt Wilson.If you are taking Upper Winter Creek trail to Mt Wilson,you will hit a R or L trail near the saddle,be sure n head R,theL trail will get you there,but sweet jesus you will hit the gift that keeps on giving.A shitty ridge/drainage/single track that makes you wonder.But heck,summits arent suppose to easy..lol
Cool – thanks for the tip!
Thanks for taking the time to make this awesome website. My husband and I plan on doing your top 10 already did Zion Loop on to Mt Baldy…..Love all the details best site I have found.
Thanks again keep it coming….
Awesome, glad you got the chance to do it. Enjoy Baldy! Thanks for reading and for your feedback.
What a great web-site! This is definitely getting added to my favorites.
You missed a great waterfall hike though…Sturtevant Falls. I was there about a month ago and it was RAGING! So cool! If you’re even in need of a hiking bud, I’d love to join you on your explorations!
Thanks for reading. Actually I did get Sturtevant – check the index page, you should find it there.
just stumbled upon your site here, keep it up! I live in the Antelope Valley and hit most all of the trails in Northern part of LA county yet I’ve never done Ritter Ranch (on the trail you mentioned we just head straight up the fire breaks from the North side in Palmdale) but me and my girl will be out there this weekend!
Hi Jared, thanks for reading & for the kind words. Hopefully Ritter Ranch won’t be too hot for you this weekend! Enjoy it.
Just stumbled upon your site. What an awesome blog! Thanks for all of the information. I am so excited to explore some of these trails. Cheers!
Thanks for reading, glad you enjoy the blog! Happy hiking.
Thanks for the great info! My boyfriend and I just moved to L.A. from Connecticut (where there is little else to do, but hike) and your blog has been really useful in helping us find places to hike around here.
Thanks for reading! Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Keep tuned for more.
This is an really Excellent Blog which tells us all about the Los Angeles and in and around mountains and great nature which we miss to see in our day to day run Up…………………………..Nice Blog Thank You
Do you have a personal email address to discuss a possible blog exchange?
Yes – firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi David! I was wondering if you might be willing to feature our event in an upcoming post? Its basically a GPS hiking/trail-running/riding challenge here in the Conejo Valley just north of L.A. that we hope will encourage people to learn more about the open space, experience some great trails and challenge themselves over the next couple of months. We also have some great local and international sponsors that have donated prizes. You can find more info on the COSCA site here: http://www.conejo-openspace.org/news_and_events.htm. And if you have any other questions you can contact me at dmalwitz at gmail dot com. Thanks! -Dave
Hi Dave, thanks for reading. For the most part, I usually only post reports on specific hikes, but I’ll be sure to mention the event in one of my LAist articles. The LAist has a very large readership and it will probably generate a lot of interest in COSCA. I’ll send you the link when it’s ready.
Have a great weekend.
That would be great, Thanks!
Here it is.
Hey there! I just started hiking in LA and came across this site, LOVE IT! There is only one thing that would make my experience even better….. noting on the website if there is a restroom at the beginning of the trail (random, I know) but I usually drive over an hour to the trails. =)
Thanks for all the great info! Keep posting em and I’ll keep hiking ’em!
Hi Robinlyn, thanks for reading and for your suggestion. I’ll start adding that info to future posts.
Ooh, notating trail head bathrooms is a good idea (for the ladies). 🙂
A comment about the Frascati Trail: Although the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy has done a nature walk in this area in the past, this trail (and others in the immediate area) are NOT under their management. Instead, the agency that constructed and maintains the trails is the Miraleste Recreation and Parks District. Unfortunately, they do not have a website so there is no further information available.
THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! A million times THANK YOU!
My Rose Valley Falls Trail got FRESHLY PRESSED! And I owe it all to you and your blog. I can’t say Thank You enough to express my appreciation in helping and guiding us to find all these beautiful hiking trails.
Glad to help Rommel! Thanks for putting a shout-out to NHLA on your blog. Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed!”
How did you make your site look this sick!? Email me if you can and share your wisdom. Id appreciate it!
Thanks, glad you like how the site looks! WordPress has a lot of different “themes” (background graphics, etc) you can check out, and you can tweak and adjust as necessary. That’s basically how I got to where I am now, by trial and error.
Important Information about the Martingale Loop and Rolling Hills Loop: Although both of these start within Rancho Palos Verdes, they go into the gated city of Rolling Hills (NOT Rolling Hills Estates which is a separate city). The trails are all easements on private property and are controlled by the Rolling Hills Community Association (RHCA). They have always required permits for non-residents to use the trails but this has not been seriously enforced until recently. Now, because of a number of incidents that have occurred, they are getting serious about enforcement. Anyone doing these hikes should be aware of this and should understand that they are liable to be confronted by residents (or even law enforcement) if they don’t have a permit. (I am NOT a resident of Rolling Hills but I have been forced to limit my hiking in Rolling Hills because of this situation.)
You really have a fantastic, well organized, current site! Thanks for all the informational write-ups. Now I just have to work my way to LA more. 🙂 Hopefully, will meet you at the #socalhikingtweetup!
Thanks Traci, and thanks for your great WalkSimply blog too…I hope I’ve been able to send some traffic to it. I should be available on 11/10, sounds like a great time!
Yes, I have received traffic and I greatly appreciate you for help in that arena!
Absolutely – glad I can help!
I am a geocacher and that leads me to many great hikes. But I do love your blog and wonder if you’ve ever geocached on your adventures. It’s suuuuper fun.
You know, I’ve thought about trying it, just haven’t gotten around to it – maybe ’13 will be the year that NHLA gets into geocaching!
I’m glad I found this site after years of trying to figure out which trails are best around here. I do have a question about the distances listed though. When you just give a mileage for the distance, does the mileage mean round-trip or one-way?
Hi Elizabeth, glad to have you as a reader! The mileage refers to the round trip distance (except on loop-likes, which refers to the total distance of the loop from start to finish.)
Dave: I’m the director of a small Baptist Academy. I want to take a few junior high and high school students to Falls Creek Falls after having read your description. I want to know if the hike itself is in the forest or more chapparal type. I took the same kids to Switzer Falls and they loved it.
I’d say Falls Creek Falls is a good choice for kids who have done Switzer. It’s a little more challenging and there’s some poison oak to watch out for, but if they enjoyed Switzer they’ll enjoy this one. Have a good hike!
Great great hiking website. It’s quickly become my top 2 resource for Socal hiking. I love it that you include hikes in Orange County and Los Angeles.
Thank you, glad you are finding the site helpful!
This is a great website! I am visiting for work and me and a couple of my colleagues would like to do the hike to the Hollywood sign. For persons who don’t have a car what is the best way to get to one of the trailheads?
Thanks for reading, glad you’re enjoying the site. Unfortunately there aren’t many great public transportation options for visiting the Hollywood Sign, so you may want to consider taking a cab, especially if you’re going with friends with whom you can split the cost. You can have the cab drop you off either at the Beechwood or Brush Canyon entrances, depending on which is closer to you. Enjoy the hike!
Hi David: hiked the Ice House Canyon to the saddle today 1/24/2014.
The U.S. Forest Service no longer runs the visitor center, it’s all volunteers. Volunteers are also working the San Gorgonio & San Gabriel Mtn trails as well. So sad. No biologist left in the Forest Service as well. We met two men today that are volunteers of the above areas. Any way, a very nice hike, no sun, cold @ the saddle requiring us to put on a third layer. Permits are required in the wilderness there as you know. There is a metal box @ the trailhead with a pen & the wilderness permits you have to fill out. They are no longer filled out @ the visitor center.
Take care, Maria from LBMMC
Thanks for the update Maria, hope to see you soon.
This is a great resource! When I was growing up in the San Fernando Valley, back in the day, the air was too smoggy to think about hiking. When I drive into LA these days the air looks much fresher. We will definitely use this good info!
Thank you…glad to hear you’re finding the site helpful. That’s the goal.
Hi there! We “met” on the call yesterday with Sports Chalet and I thought I’d come check out your website. My sister actually lives in LA and I love, love to go hike with her when I’m out there. It is so beautiful. People who come to visit the city for the celebrities, etc miss out on the beauty of the area. Next time I’m in town I will definitely check out your blog for some hiking tips and locations.
Hi Michael, thanks for checking out the site! I look forward to working with you as a fellow Sports Chalet Expert. You’re right about people living in LA without realizing how many great natural places there are here – I was one of them for eight years. Anyways, keep up the good work with your blog and I appreciate you dropping by.
interesting you don’t have a write up (at least I was not able to find one) on the San Gabriel Mountains most scenic hike, the moderate grade Mt Waterman hike beginning at Angeles Crest mileage marker 58.00. Would be more than happy to guide you on this one as there are 3 incredible ‘Discovery Channel’ like view off the main trail and then also south of the summit among ‘Jumble Rocks’ where the BigHorn Sheep hangout…..
Do you have an instagram?
Hey David… we were on CA 2 the other day and, though we were going only to Eaton Saddle, noticed the signs that the road was closed ahead (although the first sign on 2 below said it was open all the way to Wrightwood. It apparently is not. Checked the transportation site, and CA 2 is closed between Islip Saddle and 5 miles west of Big Pines. This makes some of the trailheads inaccessible, of course. Apparently due to rock and mud slides.
Yes, you’re right, thanks for the heads up – here’s the link to the DOT site for the benefit of other readers. http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/display.php?page=sr2
Greetings, David. Thanks for your write-up about the Ritter Ranch hike. We did it yesterday and I’d like to write you off-line to give you some updates on the trail. email@example.com
Thanks for reading, always happy to hear suggestions for updates. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to post some guest posts on your site. How many prices do you take for each post, and how many words can I post in each post?
Feel free to visit the sponsored information or guest post submission pages.