Top 5 Los Angeles Hiking Trails

The top 5 hiking trails in Southern California

  • One of the main benefits of hiking is experiencing the great outdoors with spectacular scenic views
  • Every hiking trail has a unique story of how it was established
  • There are many hiking trails in California

     Trailhead (Hollywood Trail) 2927 Canyon Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90068

    The tourist attraction of the Hollywood sign is an absolute must to hike in California. It offers you a challenging hike but accommodates you with its scenic view of Los Angeles.

    This hike is located in the Hollywood Hills on Mount Lee.

    The Hollywood sign was established in 1923 which was originally named “Hollywood Land.”

    This sign was created to allure home buyers to buy land in the Hollywood Hills. This hiking spot is open Monday-Sunday, sunrise to sunset.

    This trail has a spacious wide dirt road with an incline leading you up to Mount Lee. Not only does this trail lead you to the Hollywood sign but also to other sites such as the Bronson Caves, Mulholland Trail, and the Griffith Observatory.

    While making your way up the mountain there are marked signs that direct your way with multiple benches where you can stop to catch a breath or to enjoy the beautiful scenic view of Los Angeles. This hike is 6 miles long which can take up to 2-3 hours to complete and the difficulty level is moderate.

    #2 Monrovia Canyon Falls Trail 1200 N. Canyon Blvd., Monrovia, CA 91016

    In the San Gabriel mountains lies the Monrovia Canyon Trail that has a stunning close-up view of a 30-foot tall waterfall.

    There is a vehicle admission fee that is $5 Monday-Friday and $6 on the weekends. To avoid parking fees you can park in the residential area but be aware of the “no parking” signs.

    This trail is opened during the weekdays except for Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and weekends from 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

    The distance is 3 miles taking about 2 hours to complete. The difficulty level of this hike is easy. As you start your hike there are signs to be cautious of bears, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. As you walk into the forest the trails are narrow and tight where you begin walking in bear territory alongside the
    edge of the mountain.

    The trail has few moments of incline but not too much. There are also many rocks to climb over and streams to walk across to get to the waterfall.

    #3 Sam Merrill Trail E Loma Alta Dr. at Lake Ave, Altadena, CA 91001

    The Sam Merrill Trail is full of rich history dating back to the 1900s making it a must to visit. The end of the trail puts you on top of Echo Mountain where the Echo Mountain House used to remain. This was a hotel that was built around the 1800s by Thaddeus Lowe. There were no roads built on the mountain, so a railway was created to transport people up and down the mountain.

    The hotel didn’t last and burned down but you can still see what little is left. The reason it is named Echo Mountain is because of the many echoes that can be heard across the canyon.

    This hike is difficult with miles of incline to reach the mountain. In 1940 the trail was established by Sam Merrill which he made a clear path to create this trail.

    There have been several statements online that this hiking trail is haunted with its past history. This trail is also known as the “haunted forest” or the “enchanted forest.”

    The first impression of the gates is extremely intimidating when entering into the forest. There have been multiple rumors of hikers hearing screams, being watched or followed and seeing strange lights while hiking at night.

    According to KTLA news, in 2016 human bones were found by hikers along the Echo Mountain Trail which  investigators believed they have been there for several years. With the spooky vibes and thrilling history this trail is a must to visit…well at least when the sun is still out.

    This hike is about 5.8 miles and takes about 2-3 hours to finish. As you enter the trail you past the gates of the Cobb Estate and follow the old paved driveway towards the mountain.

    The trail starts up from an incline towards the mountain making it a great leg workout. There are a few shady spots to block the sun and take a break. Watch your step while hiking this trail since the trail is on the edge of the mountain.

    #4 Hermit Falls Angeles National Forest, Santa Anita Ave, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011

    This hike is a downhill hike that is about 2.6 miles with a small waterfall stream in Angeles National Forest. This hike is easy to hike with only about an hour to complete. For parking, you need to buy a pass at the general store so you don’t get a ticket. When starting on the trail it starts off as a paved road into a dirt trail that leads you to hermit falls.

    This hike was fairly easy starting off downhill but begins to be more difficult as you walk back up the mountain.

    This trail is a historical landmark that is known for having 81 cabins scattered along the creeks from Hermit falls to Sturtevant falls. These cabins were built in the 1900s and are still being used till this day. There are two trails which are Hermit Falls and Sturtevant Falls, the one that I accomplished was Hermit Falls.

    When finishing up Hermit Falls Trail I decided to hike Sturtevant Falls because it was still bright out. As I began to walk to my second hike I noticed more cabins and began to have an eerie feeling as some cabins were abandoned and some still in use.

    Half a mile away from achieving my destination I reached a sign that said, “take care of the land, someday you’ll be a part of it.” This was the moment that I realized I should be heading back. Not only was the sign creepy enough but also the sun was beginning to set.

    Sadly, I didn’t finish the second trail. I suggest if you get spooked out easily like me you should take this hike early in the morning or when the sun is out.

    #5 Eaton Canyon 1750 North Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107

    The Eaton Canyon Trail is located in the San Gabriel mountains. Eaton Canyon is named after Judge Benjamin Eaton, who was a pioneer, was the first person to grow grapes along the slopes using water from the creeks of the canyon. The trail is open from sunrise to sunset but are closed Monday’s.

    The parking is free and has enough space to park which has two sets of parking structures. You can either park in the parking lot that is closer to the trail or park off the lot in the dirt.

    I suggest if you hike at a later time that is past 5:00 p.m. park in the dirt road so you don’t get a ticket and be stuck in the lot because they do lock the gate.

    When the trail begins you get an endless view of bright yellow daisies that are scattered along the side. When walking towards the waterfall there are designated signs that help guide your way so you don’t walk off track. The trail takes you through streams and over rocks deep into the forest.

    As you arrive at the waterfall which is surrounded with giant and small rocks find a seat and enjoy the 40 foot tall waterfall. The water is as clear as can be with only going up to ankle length. This waterfall is very soothing and peaceful while you enjoy a snack before you head back. This trail can get packed over the weekends so if you want to avoid the crowds try and make it on a weekday.

About the author

Erika Rodriguez graduated from Pasadena City College with an AA degree in Communications and is continuing her education at Cal State Los Angeles with a BA degree in Communications. Erika is an avid hiker and lover of the outdoors.