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The Top 10 L.A. Hikes For Stunning Views

The Top 10 L.A. Hikes For Stunning Views

By Ani Karibian
June 26, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

The City of Angels is home to numerous hiking trails with breathtaking views. The stunning hills and mountains will beckon you to nature and out of the city. Just glancing at the undulating peaks from your window is all it takes before you’re dreaming of the fresh air, the sound of birds chirping, and the feeling of the earth beneath your feet. Is there anything else in the world you would rather do than hit the trails on a beautiful day? If not, here are the best hikes in Los Angeles to add to your to-do list. 

The Best Hiking Trails in Los Angeles

Walk past coastal live oak trees, craggy peaks, and lush grasses during a scenic hike through the Malibu hills.

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1. Sara Wan Trailhead

Location: 25623 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Parking: There are plenty of free spots along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Pay $5 (cash or check) in the trailhead parking lot.

Difficulty: Easy

Approximate distance: 2.5 miles

Estimated time: 75 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes

Located along the scenic PCH, Corral Canyon Park is an absolutely gorgeous place for a weekend hike in Malibu. The 100-acre expanse is the only Los Angeles County canyon that has remained undeveloped within the Santa Monica Mountains. As you make your way up into the Malibu Hills, you’ll discover coastal sage shrubs, oak trees, and wildflowers. On your way back down the trail, enjoy the extraordinary view of the ocean and beautiful L.A. beaches. Take your time hiking through this spectacular terrain and experience the beauty of nature before finding your way back to the city.

2. Sam Merrill Trail

Location: East Loma Alta Drive (at Lake Avenue), Altadena

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Parking: There’s free street parking by the entrance of the trail.

Difficulty: Challenging

Approximate distance: 5.4 miles

Estimated time: 3 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes, but they must be on a leash.

Rated one of the “10 Great North American Hikes” by USA Today, this trail provides a great outdoor workout and phenomenal views of downtown L.A., Pasadena, and the San Gabriel Valley. You’ll start the hike by scaling a canyon wall, and 15 minutes later, you’ll find yourself climbing a mountain face. Once you reach the top of Echo Mountain, you’ll discover the ruins of an old alpine resort and a train station, which was originally built in 1894 to connect the mountaintop to Pasadena.

Admire sweeping views of the Los Angeles landscape from the famous Hollywood Sign.

3. Charlie Turner Trail

Location: 2840 West Observatory Avenue, Griffith Park

Hours: 5:00 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Hiking trails close at sunset.

Parking: There’s a parking lot next to the Griffith Observatory. It costs $8–$10 per hour to park. If it’s packed, look for street parking along Observatory Avenue.

Difficulty: Easy

Approximate distance: 3 miles

Estimated time: 2 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes

Less than three miles long, this easy Hollywood hike will lead you to the Mount Hollywood summit—the highest peak in Griffith Park, which spans 4,000-plus acres and is one of the largest urban parks in North America. On a smog-free day, you’ll enjoy a 360-degree view of the Pacific Ocean, the Verdugo Mountains, the L.A. skyline, and everything in between.

About 15 minutes into the hike, the Hollywood Sign will appear on your left. If you're feeling touristy, pose for some cute Instagram pics before continuing your journey. Forty minutes later, you’ll reach the summit. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the L.A. basin, the edge of the San Fernando Valley, and the Griffith Observatory. If you are into photography, this priceless glamour shot is for you. 

4. Escondido Canyon Trail

Location: 27200 Winding Way, Malibu

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Parking: Parking is available in the lot on Winding Way East.

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate distance: 3.8 miles

Estimated time: 2 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes

One of the best hikes in Malibu, this trail leads to Escondido Falls, a two-tiered, 150-foot cascade. Pouring down moss-covered limestone rocks, this picturesque waterfall is the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day. You can wade into the pool or stand behind the waterfall and feel the cool drops of water on your skin as it refreshes and rejuvenates you. 

Start your hike on Winding Way East; as you make your way uphill, you’ll pass beautiful ocean-view estates. Approximately 0.5 miles into your hike, you’ll come across the clearly marked Escondido Canyon Trail. Be prepared to get wet and rock hop as you jump across streams along the way.  

Since the waterfall is two-tiered, you’ll reach the 50-foot Lower Escondido Falls first. This is a great place to relax, drink some water, and do a bit of stretching before continuing on. If you’ve had enough hiking for the day, you can always head back from here. But if you’re feeling ambitious, continue following the official route—just note that it’s a steep climb to Upper Escondido Falls. The rocks are slippery, too, but there’s a guide rope in place for your safety. You’ll traipse over boulders and go under part of the lower falls until you reach the magnificent tiered upper falls.

Enjoy the refreshing breeze and spectacular vistas from the Parker Mesa Overlook in Topanga State Park.

5. Parker Mesa Overlook from Trippet Ranch

Location: 20828 Entrada Road, Topanga 

Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset

Parking: All-day parking is available in the Topanga State Park lot for $10.

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate distance: 6.9 miles

Estimated time: 3–3.5 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No

This trail starts from Southern California’s lovely Topanga State Park. Hike up the dirt road and pass a meadow on your left. Continue hiking for a crystal-clear view of marvelous mountainside homes. You’ll then notice a red stone ridge to your right and gorgeous green mountains and subdivisions to your left. Continue trekking uphill until you reach a fork (take a right), which leads to the Parker Mesa Overlook. It’s a single-track complete with two benches and a perfect view of the ocean, downtown L.A., and the San Gabriel Mountains. If it’s a clear day, you’ll see Catalina Island, too. Work your way back down the same path to return to the beginning of the trail.

6. Los Liones Trail

Location: 510 Los Liones Drive, Pacific Palisades

Hours: 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

Parking: A parking lot is located at the trailhead. There are also several small parking lots nearby as well as street parking (park legally to avoid a ticket).

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate distance: 7 miles

Estimated time: 2–3 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No 

Hop off the PCH at Sunset Boulevard, then turn left onto Los Liones Drive. Here, you’ll find multiple trailheads to the east, but you’ll want to take the Los Leones Day Use Trail to the East Topanga Fire Road. You’ll enjoy dazzling views of the Pacific Ocean and weave through lush vegetation as you continue to hike uphill. Once you’ve reached the clearing that overlooks the Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica, you’ve come to the end of the trail. When you’re ready, retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

Spend quality time with your closest friends by exploring new Los Angeles hiking trails together.

7. Rocky Peak Trail

Location: 2315 Kuehner Drive, Simi Valley

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Parking: Parking is available in the dirt lot on the northern side of the 118, on top of the on- and off-ramp. On the opposite side of the freeway, overflow parking is also available.

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate distance: 4.75 miles

Estimated time: 2–3 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes, but they must be kept on a leash.

This hike begins on a desolate, boulder-lined path, rising above a small parking lot north of the 118. The scenery is minimal, but don’t be discouraged. Once you reach the peak, the mesmerizing view of the surrounding Santa Susana Mountains, San Fernando Valley, and the distant Santa Monica Mountains will definitely be worth the wait.

8. Beaudry Motorway Loop Trail

Location: 3110 Beaudry Terrace, Glendale

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Parking: Park for free on the side of the road.

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate distance: 6.15 miles

Estimated time: 3 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes, but they must be on a leash. 

Starting off at the intersection of Beaudry Drive and Beaudry Terrace in Glendale, you’ll pass a yellow gate before reaching a dirt road. Hike up this road and take a left when you reach Beaudry South Motorway. The San Gabriel Mountains and the downtown L.A. skyline will soon appear on your left. As you continue uphill, you’ll be able to see the entire San Fernando Valley and occasionally spot lizards, hawks, and dragonflies. You can either go back down the way you came or take the paved road. 

Take a hike up into the Santa Monica Mountains for breathtaking scenery, especially at sunset.

9. Ray Miller Trailhead 

Location: 9000 West Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Hours: 8 a.m.–10 p.m.

Parking: Buy a day pass for $8 at the electric meter. Display the pass on your dashboard.

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate distance: 7.1 miles

Estimated time: 3.5 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No

Start your Point Mugu hike at the Ray Miller Trailhead parking lot. Follow the single-track trail to the end of the lot. You’ll then climb past a top California campground (perfect for an extended trip) and up into the Santa Monica Mountains. Switchbacks will take you high up into the mountains, with occasional views of the rolling waves. On your journey, you’ll encounter skittering lizards, succulents, cacti, and a lot of that invigorating California sun.

The trail eventually reaches a ridge, where you’ll connect with a road and take a left. You’ll then see a gateway leading to the wild, rugged backcountry terrain (the 3.65-mile mark), so turn around and head back to the parking lot. Only the bold and the brazen will continue on into the uncharted territory.

10. Mandeville Canyon Hike (Westridge Trailhead to San Vicente Mountain)

Location: Westridge Road and West Mandeville Fire Road, Los Angeles

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Parking: There’s parking available at the trailhead and along the road outside of the park.

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate distance: 7 miles

Estimated time: 3.5 hours

Route: Out and back

Dog allowed: Yes

Get excited to hike from gorgeous twin canyons to the picturesque San Vicente Mountain. On your drive to the trailhead, you’ll pass the renowned Getty Center and the magnificent multi-million-dollar homes on Westridge Road. Pull over when you reach a parking lot, then park the car and head up Mandeville Road, which winds above the Sullivan and Mandeville Canyons. Along the way, you’ll see the Santa Monica Mountains and the ocean. You’ll also notice other, more strenuous paths crisscrossing their way through the hills.

The trail ends at the historic Nike Station, a former military radar station, where you can now see glorious panoramic views of the city and the valley ridge. If you’re lucky enough to hike on a clear day, you can see even Catalina Island, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the San Fernando Valley.

Make sure to download the free California State Parks app so you can find a trail wherever you go in L.A. Which trail are you going to explore first? 


Ani Karibian

Ani Karibian

Ani is the content manager for California.com. She savors her time discovering California's hidden gems and writing about the hottest spots in town. She's got an unquenchable thirst for adventur…

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