Runyon Canyon is Closing, But Don’t Panic!

Some of you may have heard the devastating news yesterday: Runyon Canyon, perhaps Los Angeles’s most iconic hiking destination, will close temporarily in April until at least July 1 because of a “public safety concern.” According to Estevan Montemayor, director of communications for area city Councilman David Ryu, commissioners of the Department of Recreation and Parks voted to close the popular Hollywood hiking trail in order to repair a leaking, 100-year-old water pipe.

Reactions from my friends and colleagues have ranged from shock, outrage, to despair. One friend likened the closure to the imminent multi-year construction shut down of the L train, one of the busiest trains to get in and out of Manhattan from Brooklyn, specifically Williamsburg. But, friends, I have what should be reassuring news: Our situation isn’t quite so dire! And here’s why: Los Angeles is home to plenty of beautiful hikes of varying difficulty, many dog-friendly, and many more just a short drive (or hike) from Runyon.

Here are some of my favorites.


1. Franklin Canyon – Just a short distance from Runyon, Franklin Canyon is a nice alternative. Usually quieter and less crowded, Franklin Canyon offers several short, easy hikes and a moderate to strenuous climb to the top that provides a nearly 360-degree view of the city below. Highlights include views of the reservoir and the Nature Center. And, thank goodness, it’s dog friendly ! It’s located at 2600 Franklin Canyon Dr. in Beverly Hills, and more info can be found here.

2. Griffith Park – You’re probably already familiar with Griffith Park. Park on Los Feliz, walk up the gently graded 2.5 mile path to the Observatory, right? But there are plenty of trails that you should put on your to-hike list. There’s this 8 mile out-and-back hike that takes you on a stop to the Bronson Caves, notable as the Batcave from the ’60s Batman TV show on your way to the top of Mt. Lee and the Hollywood sign. There’s also a short, easy hike around the Old Zoo. But my favorite Griffith Park hike is definitely the trail to Cahuenga Peak and the Wisdom Tree. Up past Beachwood Canyon, after a long and steep hike, be forewarned, is the Wisdom Tree, the only tree in the area to survive a 2007 brush fire. The tree also has its own Instagram account.

wildflower trail

3. Elysian Park – Elysian Park, next to Echo Park and Dodger Stadium, has several short, relatively easy hikes. The Wildflower Trail is the perfect country-meets-city hike. You’ll feel removed from LA and surrounded by nature, but may still hear the roar from I-5. It’s a 2.8 mile jaunt with only 200 feet of elevation has a small garden halfway through for a quick rest. Spring is the best time of year for this hike as carpets of wildflowers and flocks of songbirds are out in full force. Oh, and there’s great views of downtown. More info here and here.


4. Malibu Creek State Park – Often used as filming sites for Hollywood projects such as M*A*S*H* and South Pacific, this section of Malibu features rock climbing, lakes, rivers, and beautiful scenery. Also, there’s free parking from the Cistern Trail Head on Mulholland. Whether you’re taking a flat stroll along the Canyon floor or climbing the ridge of the Castro Crest, this park should definitely be on your radar.


4.  Ernest E. Debs Regional Park – This large nature reserve is a great place for a hike if you’re near Highland Park and Mt. Washington. Next to the Arroyo Seco and dog-friendly, ditch your car and get here by taking the Gold Line.

sandstone peak


5. Sandstone Peak – Perhaps the most difficult trail on this list, and not for those just looking for a short hike before sunset cocktails, the Mishe Mokwa trail will take you to the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains, featuring panoramic views of the ocean, the Channel Islands, the Santa Monica Bay, Los Angeles, and even as far as Ojai on clear days. There’s also free parking here and dogs are allowed. More info on how to get there here.


6. Betty B. Dearing Trail at Wilacre Park – Starting off at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Fryman Road in Studio City, then looping through the Hollywood Hills, this trail has glorious views of the valley and Griffith Park.

Beaudry Motorway Loop

7. Beaudry Fire Road to the Verdugo Mountains – Just North of Glendale and East of Burbank, this trail offers a nice reprieve from busy city life. The peaks are lined with old fire roads and ride trails. This hike is not for people watching or to see or be seen, but a great secluded trail to clear your head.



8. Kenneth Hahn Community Loop and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook – Chances are you’ve driven past both of these urban green spaces and didn’t realize it. Just off the 10 freeway in Culver City sits two of the city’s best keep secrets. There’s even a visitor’s center with restrooms and picnic areas at the top. And the vista points are some of the most romantic in the city. The only drawback? No dogs allowed.

Where will you be hiking while Runyon is closed?

Happy trails!

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