Posts tagged urban hike
LAYER UP!

It seems silly writing this post when we just had a 90º day here in Los Angeles. Maybe there is a part of me that hopes this will help summon the fall Gods to bring us SOME kind of weather here (I know all of my Midwestern friends are scowling at me right now as the Polar Vortex descends upon them... sorry y'all)

Still, our short stint of cool weather last week inspired me to start hunting down some new gear for the days when (or... if) the thermostat finally drops below 65º. A girl can dream... 

01.  Wunder Under Pant *Full-On Luxtreme  from Lululemon | 02.  Sleeveless Gym Tee  from Victoria's Secret | 03.  Tech Cape  from Nike | 04.  Zoom Wildhorse 2  from Nike

01. Wunder Under Pant *Full-On Luxtreme from Lululemon | 02. Sleeveless Gym Tee from Victoria's Secret | 03. Tech Cape from Nike | 04. Zoom Wildhorse 2 from Nike

01.  Ridley Warm Beanie  from Neff | 02.  Re-Tool Snap-T® Fleece Pullover  from Patagonia | 03.  Ballard Roll-down Boots  from The North Face | 04.  Pinecrest Roll-Up Pants  from The North Face

01. Ridley Warm Beanie from Neff | 02. Re-Tool Snap-T® Fleece Pullover from Patagonia | 03. Ballard Roll-down Boots from The North Face | 04. Pinecrest Roll-Up Pants from The North Face

Culver City Park & Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

The trails through Culver City Park and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook are another one of my favorite places to visit after a long work day. The Culver City Park connects with Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook through a small trail making it really easy to take advantage of the benefits of both of the parks in one fell swoop. 

Culver City Park is located at the intersection of Duquense Ave. and Jefferson Ave. in Culver City. It offers a lot of great pic-nic areas, a wonderful little dog park called "The Boneyard", some wall climbing activities, soccer and baseball fields and a lot of lovely views of downtown Culver City. 

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is also located on Jefferson Ave. just east of the Culver City Park entrance. From the top of the peak you can take in some seriously breathtaking views, hike through a restored native habitat, and check out the visitor center that has an abundance of information on this area that was once oil drilling land. Whether you follow the trails, or fight your way up the infamous stairs, in the end, you'll experience some of the best views of Los Angeles Basin, the Pacific Ocean and all of the surrounding mountains and cityscapes. 

If you choose to explore just the Baldwin Hills area, there is parking (which can be pretty competitive) along Jefferson close to where the trailhead begins. The trails are in great shape and as you wind your way up you'll eventually come to those stairs that I referred to before. If the stairs are too intimidating you can continue to wind your way up the trail to the top of the peak, or you can trek up the stairs and burn off some serious calories doing so.

I'm going to fill you in on my favorite trail route between Culver City Park and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook that ends up being about 2.25 miles - I think this path offers the best of both parks - great views and a great workout. 

To start, enter through the Culver City Park entrance and make your way to the first parking lot - it will be on your left. Once you park, head over to the trail head at the northern edge of the parking lot. This "trail" is more of a wooden walkway that winds you up to the middle section of the park - but it's a nice way to warm up for the rest of your hike. After you make it to the top you'll see some benches that look out over downtown Culver City.

After you take moment to enjoy the views, continue through the parking lot heading north again until you see a road that winds up to the highest level of the park. Follow that road, being mindful of traffic, and make your way to the opening in the fence along the baseball field. 

There is no "defined" trail here, but you can see where the grass has been flattened by fellow travelers. Continue on past the baseball fields on your right and eventually you will see a trail on your left with a park gate that reads "Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook".

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The trail here will lead you out to another road - you're bound to see other hikers and runners at this point. There is a crosswalk at the road here that you can follow across the street in order to make your way up past the "Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook" entrance sign. 

Here you'll notice a few different trails all sprouting off towards the hill - feel free to follow any to the east, as they all pretty much dump you out in the same area. I tend to be partial to the trail farthest to the left. As you follow along this path you'll begin to get some great view of downtown and finally you will end up at the base of the stairs - like I said before, if you aren't up for an intense trek up these stairs, you can continue to follow the path which will wind you up to the top of the hill, otherwise begin your journey up this infamous stair case.

After you reach the top - take a moment to relax - you deserve it at this point! The views from up here are killer.

When you've given yourself enough time to take it all in, follow the trail off towards the visitor center. They say the center is open from 9am-4pm, but I've heard it really depends on staff availability, and I've only been up here after 5pm so I've never had the chance to actually go in and check it out. Follow the concrete path past the visitor center until you end back out on a road. From here you will follow the road back down to where you entered Baldwin Hills Park and then make your way back along the connector trail the way you came back towards Culver City Park.

You'll find that the trails throughout these two parks are obviously not quite as extensive as say Kenneth Hahn Park, but if you're looking for easy access to a quick urban hiking area,  I highly recommend giving these trails a shot.

Address:  9700 Jefferson Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

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Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area - Los Angeles

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

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Fryman Canyon - Studio City, CA

For all of you urban hikers, Fryman Canyon offers a moderate, roughly 3 mile loop trail that is a wonderful alternative to the likes of Runyon Canyon or the Franklin Reservoir trails. 

This trail is located just off of Laurel Canyon making it an easily accessible destination for both Valley and Hollywood dwellers. The park includes ample parking (you have to pay a $3 fee when you enter, but it's a fair price considering the convenience) and even if it appears to be packed, people are coming and going from the park at a consistent pace so you won't have to wait long. The trailhead entrance is well marked, and is paved for about a 1/4 of a mile until it eventually turns into a dirt trail/fire road. 

There are a few offshoot trails as you make your way up, which you can gladly take (they all pretty much back into the main trail) but the most straightforward route is to stay on the Betty B. Dearing trail. It's easy to follow and there is typically a steady flow of foot traffic to help guide your way. 

Along the way you will pass by some wonderful vistas of the valley and beyond. If you're on a more leisurely hike, the park also offers a few memorial benches where you can sit and take in the view (about 0.6 miles into your trip). 

Around 1.5 miles into your journey you will come to a junction just past the Tree People headquarters. Feel free to explore the Tree People headquarters, or head up the smaller inclined trail on the right just down past the headquarters entrance. Up this way you will find a small exhibit where you can learn about all the different types of rocks that can be found in the Santa Monica Mountains. 

If you decide to explore, make sure you find your way back to the Betty B. Dearing trail. At this point, the trail begins it's eastward descent down through Coldwater Canyon Park. The trail is very easy to follow for about 1/2 mile and you will ultimately find yourself at another gate to the park. 

When you exit past the gate you will come upon a neighborhood cul-de-sac. Continue your descent through the paved streets and after 1/4 mile, hang a right on Iredell Road. The road will eventually level out and will lead you out to Fryman Road. Make a left and walk another 1/4 mile back to the main parking area to complete your Fryman Canyon Loop hike!

I really enjoy this loop on the weekends - if you're coming from West Hollywood, it can be difficult during the week (depending on the time of day) due to traffic along Laurel Canyon, but it's super easy to get up there on the weekends and it's a little less hectic (and stinky) than Runyon on a typical day. Leashed pups are also allowed!

How To Get There: Fryman Road intersects with Laurel Canyon Boulevard, about 1.3 miles north of Mulholland Boulevard, and 3/4 miles south of Ventura Boulevard. Head west on Fryman Road and hang an instant right into the parking lot where the Betty B. Dearing Trail begins.

Address: 3453 Fryman Road, Studio City, CA 91604

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Fern Dell to Griffith Observatory - Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA
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Griffith Park is filled with amazing little hikes - one of my favorite being the Fern Dell trail. I am so fond of this trail because it offers the best of both worlds.

Fern Dell consists of two distinct sections. The first, lower section, is a lush tropical garden bursting with wild flowers, succulents and ferns. The trail follows a creek that is full of crawfish and goldfish with rustic footbridges and benches along the way. It's hard to believe you're actually in Los Angeles as you stroll through this area. 

Soon the trail opens up to a nice (dusty) shaded pic-nic area. Just past the pic-nic area you'll find a few trails that lead out to the sunlight - a vastly different hiking experience from the beginning of your trip. The hike up to the observatory is generally exposed, so make sure you layer on the sunscreen and are ready to sweat because it's all uphill from here! 

At this point I recommend taking the trail to the left up towards the Observatory - the trail on the right hand side is a bit steeper and more exposed (if you prefer you can follow this trail from the top junction back down to the bottom to make a loop). 

Eventually as you make your way up the mountain you'll come to a junction. If you are facing the junction you'll notice it splits into three different directions - left leads you back down to Fern Dell, middle dead ends just beneath the Observatory and the right trail leads you directly up to the Observatory - the right hand trail is the one you want to continue with. 

Not long after this you will reach the Observatory! I highly recommend exploring and taking in the views from here. Once you're finished simply follow the trail back down to the bottom - they all pretty much spit you back out to where you started!

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How to get there: From Los Feliz Blvd. (a block east of where Western Ave. dead ends into Los Feliz), turn north onto Fern Dell Drive. Follow Fern Dell Drive about a quarter of a mile in and you notice parking along the street.