Hiking, Los Angeles
I know when you think of LA, hiking is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but LA really has some great hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains. Go to the web link below for a listing of hikes in the area. I used to do a lot of hiking in the Topanga canyon area and it was really nice.
Again a car is a necessity - there is no other way to get to Palm Springs - it takes about 2 hrs by car, but you can enjoy a very scenic route through some mountain valleys and slightly desert terrain. We had done an internet search for things to do in Palm Springs and discovered that in this tropical oasis lay a tramway ride that would take passengers 5'500ft up to the top of a mountain were it was possible to cross-country sky if you're fit enough, or just have fun sledding, hiking and walking - oh and of course - picnic, we like to eat wherever we go. The tram itself rotates 360 degrees twice during the ascent to the top so everyone is allowed to see the spectacular views and spot wildlife on the mountainside. After a couple of hours up there we decided to make our way to Indian Canyons, just a further 15 mins down the road, we could have ridden horses cowgirl style around these Canyons had we booked in advance but alas we settled for exploration on foot, trying to heed the warnings that rattle snakes were to be found in the area. We spent the later half of the day in Palm Springs main district, browsing the shops and market stalls that were opening in the early evening. We had some great ice-cream from Ben & Jerry's here and walked leisurely along the sidewalks - this was when i made the executive decision that i needed to return to Palm Springs another year and stay a few nights to enjoy some of the great cocktail bars that were about.
Skiing or snowboarding on Big Bear Mountain, located in the San Bernadino National Forest - what a great time i had here, we drove from my brother's place in Corona to Big Bear; when we got to the base of the mountain it took about 1 hr to drive from the foot of the mountain to the top for winter weather to prevail at about 7000 feet. What beautiful scenery, and what enormous bruises i had after the end of an adrenalin filled day up there, i'm surprised i never killed myself or anyone else for that matter. I believe it cost us about 50 dollars for the day lift pass and 20 dollars each to hire equipment so with food, drink and transport it comes to about 100 dollars for the day - not cheap if you're a budget traveller but well worth the price if you're into winter sports. The views driving back down the mountain in the early evening were spectacular and as they say California sunsets are up there with the best of them - orange and red in the skies as vivid as the colours on a painters pallet - fantastic for photographers looking for sillouette landscapes against rich skies at night. Drive carefully though because those Yanks think nothing of overtaking you on an icy corner.
The Santa Monica Mountains, just inland from Malibu offers a great many different hikes. You can stick to the flat land and not even break a sweat. I find this park ride more fun on a bike (which you will be forced to walk over the 'rock garden'). You can take in what is left of the M*A*S*H site which consists of simply a couple of rusted out jeeps....OR you can proceed to Bulldog Trail. A bike ride which I have never mastered, but have hiked on foot to an abandoned house up there.
There is actually some fabulous hiking in the local mountains of Los Angeles. Literally minutes of walking away from a busy street like Sunset Blvd., you can find yourself on a solitary trail with occasional deer. Get a good guide before you go. REI has some good ones available online.
Malibu State Park in Malibu - If nature is what you are looking for, take a drive into the park. There are tons of hiking paths and in the summer its real nice along the creeks. It's also where the famous television show 'Mash' was filmed.
There are some great hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains as well as some great single track mountain biking. Mandaville Canyon and Temescal Canyon (not sure about spelling) are some great locations. The easiest to find is Temescal. Take PCH north off of I-10 West and turn right on Temescal Canyon Road. Drive up the hill until you come to Sunset Blvd. Go straight through light and you will enter the park. Their are plenty of signs to direct you to good hiking trails.
Head up PCH to Kanan Dume Road and near the top you will find parking for Newton Canyon Falls on the left. This one of many small seasonal falls that dot the coastal range
This is such a simple hike. Very flat with some stream hopping. Go in spring for the prettiest foilage.
Get up into the mountains. Hook a right on PCH in Malibu and head inland a couple of miles up into the Santa Monicas. There's some great hiking to be had within the City boundaries.