Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area is my weekday happy place. As someone who works behind a computer screen from 8am-5:30pm I don't have the luxury of venturing off to do much hiking or exploring during the week. I used to pass by Kenneth Hahn on my way to and from LAX Airport and always wondered about it, but never got around to exploring it. But when I began working at an agency in Culver City every now and then we'd have company outings during lunch to play kick-ball or softball and most would be scheduled at Kenneth Hahn due to the close proximity to our office.
Still, up until about 6 months ago I had never really ventured any further than the baseball fields - but finally, after deciding to make more of an effort to explore the trails of Los Angeles and beyond, I chose to begin with Kenneth Hahn.
This park offers some of the most amazing views of literally every side of Los Angeles. From some points you can look out on downtown, from other points you can gaze past the oil fields and off to the ocean. And you'd be surprised how large this park really is - I've been running the trails here for almost 6 months now and I'm still finding little nooks and crannies to explore. There are a number of different offshoot trails which allow you to create a different route every time you come - always keeping your hikes fun and interesting.
That being said, I really can't suggest one straight forward trail or route to take here. It's one of those places you just need to dive into on your own. It's pretty hard to get lost (most trails end up running back into each other) and the park is generally busy with fellow hikers, families having picnics and is typically being patrolled by park rangers and police so you can feel at ease.
To get you started though, here's a suggested route that will give you a 2.5 mile tour through the majority of the park.
After you pass through the gates of the park continue to drive southeast and up the hill to Janice’s Green Valley, a large bowl-shaped field. There are a few parking lots up here, but if they are full, you can typically park on the right side of the street (if you're headed uphill). You will begin your hike by heading counterclockwise around the grassy bowl. Right off the bat, you will notice the spectacular views of downtown Los Angeles to your right.
Continue about 0.6 miles until you reach the northwest edge of the concrete loop/bowl. Here you will see the concrete path continue on to where you began your hike and another dirt trail thats heads north along the ridge that looks down over Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. Follow the dirt path.
Here the views only continuer to get better (especially close to sunset). The trail will lead you through a number of pavilions with benches that overlook the westside. When you reach the end of the ridge you will be able to look out north on the hollywood hills and east, with an even better view, of downtown LA.
Once you are here, you will notice a wide dirt path heading south down to the lower point of Kenneth Hahn. Follow this trail for about a quarter of a mile down to the Olympic Forest parking area. When you come out to the parking area you will make a left then make your way across the street and up to Gwen Moore Lake. Here you can follow the paths around the lake. It's a pretty peaceful area, with small man mades creeks and waterfalls that flow into the lake.
After you pass by the fountain at the top of the creek, follow the road up past the park community center and move on over to the left side of the road where the sidewalk begins it's ascent up the hill. If you follow the sidewalk all the way up you will find yourself back at the start of your hike.
If you are still feeling adventurous, another one of my favorite areas to explore there is also at the top of the hill where Janice's Green Valley is - but instead of entering the bowl area like last time, head south past the playground area. At the edge of the parking lot you'll find a pebbled trail. If you follow this pebble trail you will discover even more spectacular views of downtown, some great places zen out with some yoga, a few outdoor workout areas and even more smaller dirt trails to wander along.
How To Get There: Just south of La Cienega Boulevard and Rodeo Rd take the exit-ramp for Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area (there will be prominent brown park signs to help guide you). Head east across the bridge that goes over La Cienega and enter the park. Once you are through the entrance gate and continue about a mile through on the main road and up the hill to the find trailhead for Janice’s Green Valley (it will be on your left as you approach the parking lot at the top of the hill). There is ample parking throughout the park and along the hill.
Address: 4100 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90008