Los Angeles isn’t all just trendy bars, snobby coffee shops, and lime lit industry—from the Santa Monica Mountains to San Gabriel, along the coast, and beyond, there are numerous trails to get your LA nature on with your four-legged best friend. The turn of fall means crisp air, a sun not so scorching, and the resurgence of beautiful oranges and earthy hues, so get out and explore…your pooch will have a blast bouncing in leaves and reveling in the cool-off!
Runyon Canyon: 2/4 difficulty, depending on the trail
2001 N. Fuller Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
This isn’t exactly the road less traveled, but rather a tried and true trail loved by locals and visitors alike. Known for attracting active, Soul Cycle-clad celebs and young Hollywood hopefuls overdressed for the occasion, Runyon has three primary trails ranging from easy to challenging. You’ll soak up more than sun here; panoramic views and (free!) yoga classes surround you as you pad along the eastern side of the Santa Monica Mountains. This can be a short stroll to wake up the paws or work off those doggie biscuits Fido indulged in last night. Either way, you’re going to enjoy grade A people watching and a decent workout. Parking is not ideal, so consider taking the Metro to Hollywood/Highland and walking 15 minutes to the trail.
Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park: 1/4 difficulty
17500 Mulholland Drive
Encino, CA 91436
This park is adjacent to the humongous ‘Big Wild’ expanse and encompasses 1,500 acres—all the space you and the mutt need for running free. Take a stroll here when you’re looking for a peaceful perusal without too much elevation. Get lost in the seven mile stretch; you’ll come across bodies of water, mountain bikers, and new friends on these wide trail roads. Although not rigorous, bring a liter or two of water and snacks for the long haul. Get there by 10 AM on weekends for prime parking.
Mount Hollywood Trail: 2/4 difficulty
4730 Crystal Springs Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90027
This hike starts off beautifully and iconically at the Griffith Observatory. The views get better as you climb. A bit misleading, the trail doesn’t take you to the Hollywood sign (but does provide a great view of it). Mount Hollywood is the best of both worlds: fairly leisurely with a peak and unparalleled picture-taking ops. It’s a great starting point for several trails, allowing you to explore Griffith Park’s many sights and offerings, but the traditional trail will take an hour and a half tops. Expect milling tourists and fewer furry companions here—and make sure to bring a leash.
Fun tip: take a peek at the Bronson Cave at the beginning of the trail, used for numerous movies and most famously, the Bat Cave in the Batman TV series.
Wildflower Trail at Elysian Park: 1/4 difficulty
1025 Elysian Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90012
A stunning view of DTLA, community garden, and brunch-worthy outdoor cafe? Not much else to want from an LA hike! Take the pooch around this breezy three mile loop (with a few sticky spots) in under an hour. You’ll see the city’s tall buildings jutting up above the trees, meet many a furry friend, and hear the hubbub of the freeway, but still be able to take in all of the whiffs of nature—there will be plenty of things for your dog to sniff out. Be sure to stop at the garden for the best sights of downtown. Simply park at the bottom of Stadium Way and head on up. Since you’re near Dodger Stadium, you might want to plan your hike to avoid game day.
Getty View Park: 1/4 difficulty
1399 Casiano Road
Los Angeles, CA 90049
If you’re looking for a short and sweet saunter that doesn’t feel totally removed from the city, take the Getty View Park trail. It’s a mile and a half stretch, offering views of the Getty Museum (and its tram chugging along) and various structures dotting the hills, with the Pacific glittering in the distance. You’ll feel nature-y, yet comforted by a little freeway noise and built-upon canyons—think of it as an urban wilderness jaunt for a new perspective of the city. The three mile roundtrip walk will be a perfect pit stop from 405 traffic, or an afternoon stroll to get (kind of) away from it all.
Zuma Ridge Trail: 4/4 difficulty
Zuma Ridge Motorway
Malibu, CA 90265
Ah, Malibu—the ultimate destination to get away from that LA hustle and bustle (ahem, smog). Zuma is perfect for fit pooches and hikers not afraid to face an uphill battle. Be warned, there’s no specifically marked entrance and GPS doesn’t help much. Head down the PCH to Malibu, turn right on Busch Drive and drive up 1.5 miles to the dirt parking lot, where you’ll find the trailhead. Get ready to see birds, horses, and other wildlife, plus rock formations and water to hop over and cross. You’ll definitely forget where you are for a few hours, for over five miles, with an elevation gain of about 1,400 feet. Not for the faint of heart or pooches that nap a lot (we’re looking at you, pugs). Despite the difficulty, the coastal views are worth it, we promise. Just bring lots of water and nourishment for your lengthy adventure ahead.
Editor’s note: Especially in off-leash environments, be respectful and cautious of wildlife—rattlesnakes are prevalent! Be prepared for your Los Angeles hikes with first aid equipment for both yourself and your dog.