Getting up close and personal with the back of the Hollywood sign, with views over Los Angeles, is an excellent way to get acquainted with the topography of the city. The iconic sign is located in the Hollywood Hills, within Griffith Park. A hiking trail wraps around the sign giving the visitor views over the city, the San Fernando Valley, and the mountains beyond. It takes 2-3 hours to complete the trail and it is not too difficult. Bring sunblock, water, a hat and comfortable walking shoes.
For more photos of this fun hike, take a look at the travelogue: "Hiking in Griffith Park."
Bungee America runs the only bungee jumping installation in California. They run a good program that is fun and safe. Jumps are done off the "Bridge to No Where". They have been in business for over 20 years. The "jump masters" they employ are very friendly, detail oriented, and know what they are doing. Plan to be outside on the trail or jumping for at least 10 or 11 hours.
Even though the equipment is safe and thousands of jumpers have done this without accident, it's still scary. That's what makes it fun. One of the guys said, "You don't get to 'play with' fear much when you're adult." I think that's why we make safe ways to jump off a bridge. I know I was scared as I was out on the ledge trying to do the simple techniques for a good jump. For the most fun, you should be brave and just launch yourself. Most of the jumps will swing you under the bridge. If you are a confident jumper, they will tell you how to do different jumps including flips.
The 5 mile hike up to the bridge is great. The trail might be my favorite one in the Los Angeles area. It is decently challenging. You'll have to climb up some rocks as well as go through a some thorns. You'll also have to cross a creek 6 times. But, don't worry, it won't be too difficult if you are in average shape. You are expected to wear good hike worthy shoes and bring your own lunch, snacks and enough water to last the whole day. It may help to bring extra socks and to leave a change of clothes in your car for when you are done. There is no cell phone reception--which is great so you can enjoy being out in nature. For friends that want to watch, they can come on the hike for free.
You can also just come for the hike at anytime inside the Angeles National Forest. It only costs $5 for parking. Azusa, Ca is just 30 minutes north east of Downtown LA. Off the 210 freeway go north on Highway 39 (Azusa blvd) until it forks off to Glendora Mountain Road. Take a right on Glendora Mountain Road and a then a left on East Fork Road and park a bit after you pass a white bridge.
My only complaint is that it's a bit expensive. To do one jump costs $69. To do more jumps it gets less and less to add on. To do 2 jumps is $109 and to do 3 jumps costs $127. Since we had to meet with the rest of the jump team at 7:30 am and be out the whole day, I decided to go with 3 jumps.
If your friends jumped off a bridge would you also?
Placerita Canyon according to legend (and my hiking book) is where gold was discovered when a local pulled up an onion and found gold in the roots.....anyway this is a easy hike for most people and if you are able to do it after a recent rain you may be treated to a nice little waterfall that is about 10-15" tall. When we were there the tap was turned down to a trickle.
Either way the hike to the falls from the parking lot is 5 miles round trip with gentle inclines and it is dog friendly which works for us.
This hike is a bit out of the way and is acutually located in Santa Clarita which is a 45 min drive from downtown LA. The trails are groomed so all you need is a good pair of walking shoes and some water and maybe a snack if you get hungry
Every Spring, just outside Lancaster, the valley comes alive with flowers. Supposedly, when settlers first came to this area, they found poppies, the state flower, stretching from the mountains to the ocean. Now all we have left, besides the poppies that are in almost everyone's front yard, is this poppy preserve.
Lancaster is easily reached by freeway from Los Angeles. Just take the 5 or 405 north. Then transition onto the 14 North, which will become the 138. Exit W Ave I and go left. You'll follow Ave I for a long time. At 120th St. W turn right. Going to the left should be 120th St but to the right is Lancaster Rd. You'll follow this road for quite a ways as well, as it angles towards the hills. The entrance to the park is located near Lancaster Rd. & 160th St W. Total from Hwy 14/138 to the entrance to the park is about 15 miles.
I think it costs about $5 to get in and it is worth every cent. The park is gorgeous - hill after hill of bright orange poppies as well as several other kinds of flowers. There are trails but the further you get from the visitors' center the more peaceful it is.
Please note the poppies are at their peak usually mid-March to about mid-May and some years are better than others, all depending on what kind of winter we had. Before making any definite plans, please check the website to find out if it's a good time to visit.
Dogs are not allowed. However, there is another park nearby - Ripley Desert Woodland Park - that has Joshua Trees. This is a free park and dogs are allowed here if they are leashed.
With all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the fact that the greater Los Angeles area presents some great hiking opportunities seems to get lost.
You have hikes all around the city:
- Coastline (Malibu, Palos Verdes, etc.)
- Basin & Foothills (Santa Susana Mtns, Griffith Park, Hollywood Hills, etc.)
- Santa Monica Mountains (Topanga, Malibu Creetk, etc.)
- Angeles Ntl. Forest (Tujunga Canyon, Arroyo Seco, Mount Wilson, San Gabriel, etc.)
- Catalina Island (Avalon, Two Harbors, etc.)
Words of Wisdom:
* Make sure you have the proper equipment with you (including water!).
* Be aware of any parking restrictions (especially in Angeles Ntl. Forest).
* Map out your trip beforehand (Google-Earth is a great resource).
We use a fabulous book to decide on hikes, and then double-check the info online. The book is "Afoot & Afield in Los Angeles County" by Jerry Schad. You can also find some hiking-groups that meet on a regular basis at www.meetup.com (type in hiking and zip-code 90001)
The backbone trail is a trail that runs more or less along the ridgeline from Will Rogers State Park near Sunset Blvd 70 miles up the coast through Malibu to its end in Point Mugu. You can access the backbone trail from many other trails that dot the coast from Pacific Palisades.
Will Rogers State park is a great place to start and parking costs around $7 or so. The park is open from Sunrise to Sunset. You can even bring a dog here...keep in mind that many of the other trails are not dog friendly..head south to Palos Verdes for that. The Backbone trail is not a hard trail per say...I've done different parts of it in Vans tennis shoes which are more deck or skate shoes...no hiking boots required unless you want to head up some of the harder trails. There are numerous books on the area that you can buy at Boarders or B&N plus countless internet sites where you can print maps etc. It's a great way to see the native plants, the coast, the old filming site of the "MASH" TV show which was a Korean War comedy with Alan Alda staring in it where they have a few old jeeps etc. laying around. Come up here when it has been raining and you can see some cool waterfalls that make for some good photos.....Check my other off the beaten path tips for more photos. There are some good mountain bike trials that will bloody the shins of even experienced riders. Check the net and you can also find info on horseback riding here.
Newcomb's Ranch is a historic roadhouse oasis, 27 miles up the Angeles Crest Highway from Los Angeles.
The first time I drove this far up the crest and saw the lonely "food ahead" sign aside the road, I thought I must have altitude sickness. But, no, here in the middle of the Angeles National Forest is a historic diner, popular with bikers in the summer, and oftentimes snowed-in during the unpredictable winter.
An Asian couple recently purchased Newcomb's and cleaned it up...in fact, they polished a little more of the charm out of the old shack than I would approve of. Still, it's a sweet little getaway, with pool tables, nachos and a few beers on tap.
Take the Angeles Crest from La Canada Flintridge, past Mt. Wilson. Straight shot, and related to my Mountains tip in this same section.
Definitely a unique experience in Metro Los Angeles.
Topanga Canyon is an LA car destination, but totally worth getting the car and driving here. The largest wilderness inside a city IN THE WORLD. More than 12,000 mountainous acres. Visit one of the many ranches. Or stop in the village for food (Froggy's). Or catch some open-air Shakespeare in the summer at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Combine this with a trip to the best So Cal beach, Zuma, and you'll have the perfect "storybook" California experience.
Arrive in Los Angeles on a moderate smog day, and you will be stunned to find a major mountain range backs right up to the city limits. The San Bernardino Mountains help and hurt LA, simultaneously. They protect the city from the harsh desert climate to their East, but also trap in air masses - playing the largest hand in LA's poor air quality. Nevertheless, a jaunt up into the Angeles National Forest is exhilarating. It's bewildering to depart Mt. Wilson(5,710'), cling to the curves and dips, and arrive back in the city limits in twenty minutes. Who cares if gang members dump bodies in the canyons late at night. It's pretty!
The best approach is to ascend Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Tujunga/Sunland and descend via the Angeles Crest to La Canada. However, finding the former will be tough if you're not adept with maps. In this case, simply follow the 2 Fwy to "Mountain Ave", turn right at the end of ramp, and then left onto the Angeles Crest. Travel as far as you wish. Mt. Wilson is, I believe, nineteen miles from this intersection. Disclaimer: This road is not for the faint of heart!
Distance: 5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft
Hike Time: 3 hours
this is a great hike for late fall, winter and early spring. bring your water! there's not much shade to shelter you from a beating from the sun. it's wide enough for most folks but if you're scared of heights it will seem narrower than comfortable. the resort ruins at the top make it worth the trip. yell through the resort's echophone and hear yourself answer back.
From the I-210 Foothill Freeway in Pasadena, exit at Lake Avenue. Drive north for 3.4 miles to the end of Lake Avenue (where it intersects with the terminus of Loma Alta Drive running east and west). Park along the street. The hike begins to the left of the stone gateway on the east side of the street.
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