** November 2018 - UPDATE - Sadly, due to the devastating Woolsey Fires some of these hiking locations have been completely burned down. Please check here for updates.
After living in Los Angeles for three years, I ended up going on more hikes than I ever had in my life. I didn't know that hiking was such a popular thing to do in LA and there are a ton of hiking spots to explore. Below are the five locations I've hiked and they are all doable even for novice hikers, as long as, it's not on an extremely hot day.
This location, by far, is the one that gets mentioned the most, so I'm listing it first. You can get great views of the Hollywood sign and the Sunset strip. It's super fun to people watch here and you might even spot a celebrity (I spotted Lea Michele one time). You can bring your pets and I've also seen free yoga sessions. Runyon Canyon isn't my favorite spot to hike, but I do take friends here who visit from out-of-town since it's easy to access, an easy hike, and very LA. MAP
I've hiked here once during the day and once at night. The night hiking view was beautiful and the cool air was awesome, but I heard so many coyotes howling that it was a bit scary. The hike during the day was a bit tough, since there weren't any shaded areas. Crystal and I hiked here in 95 plus degree weather and regretted it half way into the hike. When the temperatures are mild, it's definitely much more enjoyable. You can start your hike and park at the Griffith Observatory or you can park in the residential area below and hike up to the Griffith Observatory. I've hiked both paths and the hike to the observatory is much shorter and easier. MAP
The view of this hike is gorgeous, but I'll admit it was a rough hike. The hike first started on a small path with some shade, but then the second half of the hike was a steady incline with no shade at all. For someone like me who doesn't hike often, it was exhausting. It didn't help that I only brought one bottle of water and it was over 90 degrees. Bad idea! I needed like three bottles. This hike is in Malibu, so after the hike I rewarded myself with lunch at the amazing Nobu restaurant. MAP
This one by far has been my favorite area. It's also the location where M*A*S*H was filmed and various other famous TV shows and movies like Planet of the Apes. The area is pretty flat, so it's a very easy hike but there isn't much shade so wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. Parking is $12 and there is plenty of paved parking spots.
There are so many different hiking paths you can explore and my favorite is the one that leads to a shaded area where you can jump in for a swim. I had so much fun diving into the water after a long hot hike and sort of felt like a kid again. There were other areas where you can jump from even higher points, but I'm a scaredy cat and stuck to the easy jumps. There are a ton of trails, camp grounds, and if you are a rock climber there are places to do that here as well. You could spend days exploring this park. MAP
I really wanted to check this place out because my friend told me that there was a waterfall and I love waterfalls. This hike had much more foliage than some of the other hikes I've trekked in LA (finally some shade!) . There are quite a bit of rocks to jump and climb over, so I suggest wearing something that has a good grip. The waterfall location (a fairly small area) was pretty packed which was a surprise because I went during the week. I didn't get into the water since it was crowded, so I'll have to go back another time. MAP
Have you hiked in LA? If so, where are your favorite treks?