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The Best Hiking Trails In LA for a Sweaty (and Scenic) Workout

Known as the land of celebrities, taco trucks, and year-round perfect weather, Los Angeles is also a great place to go for a hike and explore the great outdoors. For any new Angeleno or visitor, sunshine-filled workouts with Mother Nature exploring the 150+ trails that grace this popular SoCal city are a must. So if you too are looking to break a sweat while taking in the city's many Instagram-worthy views, check out these top three hikes in the City of Angels that are perfect for beginners and novice hikers alike. (Related: These Benefits of Hiking Will Make You Want to Hit the Trails

Runyon Canyon

Photo: Robbie Ann Darby

Great for first-timers, this short Hollywood trail is by far the most popular and accessible. There are both paved and rugged paths, free yoga near the Fuller Avenue entrance, and loads of off-leash areas for your canine friends. Plus, if you're looking to people watch while you sweat, Runyon is also a hot spot for celebrity sightings.

Getting There: Only two blocks from Hollywood Blvd, there are entrances on Fuller Avenue, Vista Street, and off Mulholland. Street parking is available—just be sure to read the signs to avoid getting ticketed on the blocks that are for permit-parking only.

Distance: About 3 miles round-trip along the outer loop. However, both shorter and longer options are also available. If you're looking for a dip-in, dip-out experience at Runyon, enter on Mulholland street for a .85-mile trek up to the top of the park, and then return back down for a little less than a 2-mile hike.

Pros: Great place to watch the sunset and take in multiple popular LA views while you sweat. On a clear day, you can see downtown LA, the Pacific Ocean, the Hollywood sign, Griffith Park, and much more. In it for the 'gram? Well, if you enter on Fuller Street you can reach Inspiration Point at 0.45 miles. Or go 0.8 miles from the entrance to snap a pic at Clouds Rest. Lower intensity, high chance of multiple likes.

Cons: It can get pretty crowded, so it's not the best spot if you're looking for a moment of solitude during your hike.

Fun Fact: After a recent remodel, Runyon Canyon Park also has a large paved area that was originally designed to be a basketball court. However, after many controversial complaints in 2016, the project was denied. The remains? A large open space (with a cement wall) that's perfect for a group HIIT workout or even a few boot-camp drills.

The Hollywood Sign - Mount Lee (Griffith Park)

Photo: Robbie Ann Darby

There are many ways to hike to the famous Hollywood sign, located in one of North America's largest parks—Griffith Park. However, this hike, hitting at close to 1,100 feet in elevation, is by far the most intense, so be prepared for a heart-pumping workout! It's a challenge worth taking simply for the views.

Getting There: The entrance to Griffith Park is at 3200 Canyon Drive between Bronson Avenue and Van Ness Avenue, and the drive to the trailhead is about 1.4 miles. Once you get there, there is a small free parking area on the left and a larger lot on the right.

Distance: If you want to arrive directly behind the iconic "Hollywood" lettering, this hike is 6.5 miles. But if you're looking for a shorter alternative, you could try the Hollyridge Trail to Mount Lee, clocking in at just 3.5 miles round-trip.

Pros: There are multiple views of the Hollywood sign throughout and many other breathtaking views, such as the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains. Plus, while this trail is quite popular, it is not overly crowded. So enjoy the runners, dog-walkers, and equestrians that you'll periodically share the trail with.

Cons: Most of this trail is unshaded, so packing a hat, sunglasses, SPF that you can quickly reapply—plus plenty of water—is highly recommended.

Fun Facts: If you're looking to have a Hollywood moment, you can go slightly off-route and visit the Bronson Caves—best known as the Batcave from the 1960s Batman series. Just watch out for rattlesnakes, as they often take their naps there.

Kenneth Hahn Park Community Loop Trail

Photo: Robbie Ann Darby

This is an easy hike and hidden gem on your way to LAX, located in the middle of West LA. Outside of hiking, you can bird-watch, catch a great sunset, or snap your next family photos here. The background of downtown LA with the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains is a professional photographer's dream location.

Getting There: Located at 4100 South La Cienega Boulevard in Baldwin Hills. There is $6 parking, but also plenty of free parking nearby. A popular free lot is at Norman O. Houston Park—home to one-of-a-kind outdoor exercise equipment that is easy to use and fun to include in your trail adventures.

Distance: The loop is 2.6 miles. However, the entire park is 401 acres of open green space, making this location a great place to go "off trail" without worrying about getting lost.

Pros: With a low elevation of 243 feet, this trail is perfect for the hiker who also enjoys trail running or a beginner looking for a short scenic experience. This trail is also pretty secluded and shaded, making it a perfect private oasis on a sunny day.

Cons: For large sections of the trail, take note that the Inglewood Oil Fields will be your constant view. Also, depending where you are, the machinery can get pretty loud. So if peace and quiet is important to you while hiking, this element may disrupt your flow.

Fun Facts: Since you won't be too far from the 1.25-mile Culver City stairs, if you need an extra burn, head that way for a leg day workout to remember and get a glimpse of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

Happy hiking in La-La Land! Three down, 150+ more to go.


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