8 Must-Visit Hikes in the Los Angeles Area

by Rachel Horn

Los Angeles is known for its beaches, warm weather, movie stars, and smog. These aspects–save for the latter–draw millions of tourists to the City of Angels every year. Looking for lesser-known attractions? LA is teeming with hiking trails, whether you’re looking for a shady stroll winding deep into the forest or a wide-open path in the sunshine. We’ve highlighted eight of our favorite spots, so lace up your hiking shoes and hit the trail.

Inspiration Point at Will Rogers State Park: Located in the Pacific Palisades, this 2.25-mile loop climbs just over 300 feet. It provides great views of late actor Will Rogers’ ranch, including the polo fields, and on a clear day you can see the ocean and downtown Los Angeles. For more information about this hike, visit Trails.com.

White Point Nature Preserve: History buffs will love exploring the WWII bunker at the top portion of this hike’s loop. A short and sweet 2.5 miles with 150 feet of elevation gain, this hike is located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in San Pedro. There’s even free parking on site, a true treat for Los Angeles. For more information about this hike, visit caopenspace.org..

The Hollywood Sign: Even Angelenos should venture to this icon at least once. The 3.5-mile hike gains 770 feet of elevation and drops you off right behind the famous sign. A fence prevents you from getting closer to the sign, so don’t get any ideas (remember the scene in “Friends with Benefits”?), but you can still enjoy the wide views of the city below. For more information about this hike, visit Hikespeak.com.

Escondido Falls: This 3.8-mile trail is located in Malibu, just off of Pacific Coast Highway. Visit in the colder months to see the waterfall at its fullest, but be careful when hiking on the steep and slippery parts of the trail. This hike’s elevation gain is approximately 400 feet. For more information about this hike, visit Hikespeak.com.

Switzer Falls: For a slightly longer hike, check out this 4.6-mile trail with 950 feet of elevation gain. Starting off of the Angeles Crest Highway near Altadena, this hike provides scenic views of a stream, pool and waterfall. For more information about this hike, visit NobodyHikesinLA.com.

Mandeville Canyon: Another hike for the history buffs. This 5-mile loop in Brentwood takes you through a cold war missile detection lookout. The structures are well-maintained, providing great views of the surrounding area, and signs scattered around detail their history. This hike’s elevation gain is approximately 770 feet. For more information about this hike, visit Hikespeak.com.

Parker Mesa Overlook via Los Liones Trail: If you’ve got the time to dedicate to a longer hike, explore Topanga State Park in the Pacific Palisades via this 7.3-mile trail. Gaining more than 1,300 feet on the trail may be challenging, but you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the ocean. For more information about this hike, visit Trails.com.

Eagle Rock via Santa Ynez Canyon Trail: Another trail for more dedicated hikers, this 7.4 miler takes you out-and-back through the forest, chaparral, and an open (fire) road. The 1,400 feet of elevation gain seems like a lot, but it’s all worth it when you’re resting at the top of Eagle Rock with 360-degree views of Topanga State Park and the Pacific Palisades below. For more information about this hike, visit NobodyHikesinLA.com.