Hiking, Los Angeles
If you are visiting Los Angeles and feel the need for a hike in the mountains, visit teh San Gabriels. I am no expert on the mountains, I just like being there and have a bunch of good experiences.
Just so you know, you are supposed to have a daily or annual adventure pass to park. I think the daily is about $5, the annual is about $35. These can be purchased in or outside of the mountains.
Here is one route in, the one I take most frequently. From I-5 North near Los Angeles, take Highway 2 North. follow this to the 210 East, and exit the 210 at the first exit: Angeles Crest. At the stop light at the end of the exit take a left, and now you just follow this road into the mountains. It is very easy.
Equipment: boots, backpack, water, food, etc. bring lots of water, it gets HOT.
This may not be the most beautiful destination, but it is quite famous. First, it is the site of many of the television towers for the LA area (see photo). More interestingly, it is a major astronomical site. George Hale, who lived in Wisconsin like yours truly, led the development of the world's largest telescope (of its time). It was mainly used for solar research. One book titled Sunspots said, "So important, indeed, were the contributions made by Hale, and his chief collaborators...that in the period between 1905 and 1930 may justly be referred to as the Mount Wilson era in solar physics."
I am no astronomer, it is just another reason to go here. Please be aware, this is not only reachable by hike, there are also roads due to the telescopes, history, and current research that is still conducted here. This makes reaching the top a lot less fun, since you won't be able to sit at the top, away from civilization. It is still right there with you.
Anyway, the hike, which is about 14 miles round trip, is very strenuous. There are some very beautiful spots along the way and has shaded areas, but also wide open areas that get hit by the sun making it hot.
Okay, as usual, you are on Angeles Crest, so from there you turn right at the "Red Box" ranger station. If you don't stop at Red Box and want to drive there, stay to the right (at the fork in the road) and follow the road up to the parking lot. It will lead you right to Mount Wilson. You will see the observatory peaking through the trees as you get near.
I had this burning desire to be in the snow again, but unfortunately there hadn't been much precipitation at this time. My friend Dave, who I have learned all of my hikes from, suggested Mount Pacifico. It was a wonderful February 2002 hike (as you can see from the photo). You'll see an area that the forect service is attempting to add new pine growth to the area...tough work with minimal results.
Get on Angeles Crest. Follow this road all the way to Angeles Forest. From there, you will stop at the parking lot at Mill Creek Summit and look for the trail head near the drive that leads into the parking lot.
There are tons of great hiking trails around Los Angeles...I venture into the San Gabriels and Santa Monica mountains frequently. I'll make separate tips for those.
Equipment: Boots, warm clothes (depending on time of year), lots of water, food, a medicine kit, and a backpack.
If you need to get away from the traffic and the hustle and bustle of the city, then this is a great 1/2 day activity in the greater Los Angeles area. Just on the edge of Altadena, the Echo Mountain hike is aprox. 4 hours long. Actually that is only the shortest of the 3 hikes available. If you make it to the top you will find the ruins of what used to be a hotel, as well as old rail-tracks and engine parts from the trains that used to transport hotel-guests up and down the mountain. There are little plaques explaining the history of the place.
Bring along some food and make use of the picknick area (wooden benches and tables) or just enjoy the spectacular view.
Equipment: Make sure to bring plenty of water for the hike and wear sun-protection. Best to avoid the mid-day heat.
A 6 miles round trip hike up an narrow canyon past a 50 foot waterfall to an old gold mine. The upper part of the trail is less maintained, but the creek and the bay trees are beautiful. This is one of the most pleasant hikes in the San Gabriels
Equipment: Hiking, boots, water and a snack
Start down the steep paved road that leads to Robert's Camp, a quaint collection of quiet cabins surrounded by ivy covered oaks and bays. This turn-of-the-century resort camp is definitely not abandoned, but you probably won't see any of its residents. From the end of the paved road at Robert's Camp, cross the bridge and follow the sign to Sturtevant Falls. Enjoy the calm sounds of the creek as you hike the wide trail up the canyon. Rock hopping is necessary at a few creek crossings, but what would a waterfall hike be without these? After 1 1/4 miles you will be greeted by Sturtevant Falls, a site that is worth the risk of a few wet toes. A large opening provides decent viewing room of this 60 footer. Pack a picnic and enjoy the tumbling water before heading out and up.
Equipment: Hiking shoes and water
Approach this waterfall via Trail Canyon Trail (a trail so good they named it twice). This four mile round trip hike follows Golden Creek up a canyon shaded with alders and sycamores. The trail makes its way around the canyon and opens up on a large granite landing above the falls. This is a great spot to stop for a snack and enjoy the creek.
This may be the most popular waterfall hike in LA. Walk down the canyon on a road that was paved 80 years ago (and is losing its battle with nature and time). This first stretch of the hike is in the shade, with a few crossing of the Arroyo Seco and the opportunity to visit resort era ruins. After a milethe trail leaves the creek and climbs up the canyon wall. You will be exposed to plenty of views and sun as the trail runs along the steep wall of the canyon. From here you will gain a view of the top of Switzer falls. Continue on the trail back down into the canyon and turn upstream toward Switzer Falls. Here you will find fellow hikers enjoying the small pools and cascades beneath the falls. With a bit of maneuvering, climb above the pools and follow the creek a bit further to Switzer Falls.
Fish Canyon Falls is eighty-feet tall with three-tiers and a dynamic presence. Spring is the perfect time to visit, but accessing this falls is not as easy as hiking to other falls in the San Gabriels. This is because there is a rock quarry at the trailhead.
See the website below for visiting details.
Their are several great, scenic trails to hike in LA:
Will Rodgers State Park: off of Sunset Blvd. past Brentwood heading into the Pacific Palisades offers serenity and a 360 view of the city and ocean.
Griffith Park: in Los Feliz offers over 50 miles of trails
Runyan Canyon: Can either be entered from the Hollywood side at the end of Fuller Ave. or the Mulholland side; an off leash dog canyon, so bring puppy along! Stunning views of the city.
Equipment: Hiking Shoes
Eaton Canyon falls, is a forty-foot cascade that tumbles into a wide pool. There is plenty of room to sit around the falls or wade in to the waist deep water. The trail to Eaton Canyon Falls can be summed up this way: One mile of wide flat dirt trail that is easy and dull, followed by half a mile of track up a narrow canyon that is adventurous and fun.