Hiking in Los Angeles: The Santa Monica Mountains

by Lesley Bracker on March 10, 2010

Runyon Canyon in Hollywood, California

Runyon Canyon in Hollywood, California

The mountains surrounding Los Angeles are beautiful. One great way to spend a couple hours is to hike the hills, take in some nature, get a good workout, and see some spectacular views. Bring a picnic, and you can have a bite on the picnic tables or benches at the top. Each hiking area offers you a choice of easier or more difficult trails, so you can bring the family too.

Temescal Gateway Park, in Pacific Palisades, is very popular. It’s an easy to moderate hike, totaling 2.8 miles, and takes about an hour and a half. Or, you can choose the short route and hike just a mile and a half. Either way, you’ll see waterfalls (in the spring), smell anis all around, and see the ocean. This is an extremely child-friendly hike and you’ll also see lots of dogs (on leashes). It’s very close to all the Santa Monica Hotels.

Will Rogers Park is near Temescal, and has the unusual distinction of sharing its trails with horses.  You can rent a horse, or just hike the short 45-minute loop; it’s enough to get the heart beating, but not too challenging. Views of the gorgeous homes in the hills make this a great alternative to the star homes bus tour (a little googling will help you identify the homes you see). It’s a straight shot from the Hotel Angeleno and Luxe Hotel down Sunset.

Runyon Canyon is in Hollywood and is popular among pre-dawn hikers. The entrance sits just two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, but you would never know you’re in the city. The best workouts and views are from the Fuller Avenue gate (follow it counterclockwise) but the other entrances are also challenging and beautiful. Touch the pole at the top for good luck. It’s within walking distance of the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and Spa and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

- Lesley Bracker

Photo courtesy of Flickr user daleeast

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