What's the best hike in Los Angeles?
Depends on what you're looking for.
I think an strong argument could be made for the Temescal Ridge Trail being among the very best hikes in Los Angeles.
This past weekend I was back in town. I friend and I decided we'd try a sunrise hike. We were at the trailhead around 5:30am.
While the rest of the city was blanked in a very thick marine layer, we were able to get just above the fog in time for the sunrise. The Temescal Ridge trail is part of Topanga State Park; the trailhead is located in the Los Angeles community of Pacific Palisades (see map and directions at the bottom of this post), just 10 minutes north of the intersection of Sunset Blvd and the Pacific Coast Highway.
No one else was on the trail. In fact, despite being a Saturday in May, a few minutes from the rest of the city, we didn't see anyone else for the first hour and a half we were out.
Sunrise was at 5:48am. Pretty spectacular.
Equally as impressive were the peaks from the adjacent ridge that were just slowly becoming visible as the fog receded ever so slowly.
Another view from the same spot. I didn't have my "good" camera with me - these photos were all taken with my iPhone.
After another couple minutes, the ridge to the south became visible.
My buddy Jim and I ended sticking around at this one spot taking photographs for about 30 minutes.
Really spectacular. I've been on this trail numerous times, and have blogged about several times in the past. Here are are a couple previous posts: Celebrating June Gloom and Beyond June Gloom.
As the minutes passed . . .
. . . our views changed again . . .
. . . and again. Wow.
As I've blogged in the past, a reminder of the brevity of our lives and what Scripture calls our "brief stint" we have here on earth.
There are some power lines along part of the ridge. Yeah, yeah, I know - kinda ugly. (Of course, no one complains about having access to electrical power.)
But even then, the views with the fog coming over the ridges were great.
Here are two other views from the same trail, at different times:
First with much denser fog. This photograph was taken at the exact same trail, just a different day. Amazing conditions.
Second, on a late Fall afternoon. Exact same trail: no fog, very clear conditions. Great views of the entire L.A. Basin, all the way to downtown Los Angeles. Pictured above is a close up of Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey and El Segundo. Quite spectacular. Here's a link to a previous blog post with similar photos from this hike.
We walked about three miles up, turning around at the Rogers Road junction - which could have taken us to Will Rogers State Park. Maybe another day. Above, stopping to take a picture ...
... of the deer we spotted along the way.
I mentioned how underused this trail is: it was a Saturday morning in May - and we saw only one mountain biker and two other hikers during the 2 1/2 hours we were out. For some reason this hike hasn't received nearly the same press as the nearby Skull Rock Loop Trail or the Paso Miramar Overlook.
So why is this trail (imo) among the best hikes in Los Angeles?
- Easy access to the trailhead on city streets - just 10 minutes north of Sunset and the PCH.
- Free parking and clean restroom at the trailhead.
- Trailhead starts relatively high up at 1700 ft elevation. You're already very close to "the top" when you start, making for an easy to moderate hike along the ridge (great for beginners!).
- Depending on local conditions, you're often just above the coastal fog.
- On clear days, great views of the entire city and ocean.
- One of the least crowded hikes in Los Angeles. There are times when I've hiked here on weekdays and have not seen a single other person.
- It's a fireroad (vs a narrow trail), making it open to both hikers or mountain bikers. A wider path also means less problems with poison oak, ticks, bugs, or other critters.
- Just a few miles from the beach, with ocean breezes and mild year-round climate.
Negatives (if any):
- as it's a ridge (vs a canyon) there is little to no shade anywhere. You might want to avoid it between 11-3pm during the hot summer months.
- Because it is so underused, I recommend hiking with someone, or at least someone know where you're going, especially if you go on a weekday. Despite the fact it's surrounded by a huge metropolis, don't count on any cell phone coverage.
The trailhead, located just past the corner of Via Las Palmas and Via La Costa in Pacific Palisades. While ritzy Via Las Palmas might look like a gated community, it is most assuredly a public road. Continue another 100 yards on Via Las Palmas past Via La Costa, and there is a public parking lot (with restrooms and a drinking fountain) on the left. Don't forget to carry water.