A collective cry of despair rang through Los Angeles when it was announced that Runyon Canyon would be closed for several months. The beloved tourist trap hiking location is normally busy year round, due to its relatively easy climb and short distance from Hollywood Boulevard.
You haven’t experienced Los Angeles until you’ve hiked up this mount, taken an Instagram pic looking off in to the distance, and captioned it with an inspirational quote you googled an hour before. Soooo LA. Clearly I speak from experience.
Well if you’re now wondering where else to go for a little thigh burn, Griffith Park and Baldwin Hills provide awesome alternatives! I have compared my latest hiking spots to the popular destination, contrasting location, difficulty, time, view, traffic, and best mode of transportation.
Location: It’s a huge park in the adorable area named Los Feliz. After your hike, drive down and have brunch at any of the yummy cafes. It’s about 16 minutes away from Hollywood with traffic.
Hike difficulty: Prepare to sweat! There are multiple paths to take with varying levels of difficulty. Runyon has two paths, the easy route and a harder route. Griffith’s easy route is like Runyon’s on steroids.
Time length of hike: This varies on the route you take, but it can go from 30 minutes roundtrip to a few hours.
The views: The views here are definitely cool, but it will take more work to get an Instagram worthy shot. In Runyon the picture choices are obvious, showing the Hollywood sign in the distance or overlooking the City of LA. At Griffith, you have to be more creative.
How busy: It’s a lot busier now that Runyon is closed, but the park is so big that it doesn’t feel congested. You have more room to breathe and take in nature than at Runyon.
Parking or public transportation: Public transportation is available via the LADOT bus. It picks up from the Vermont/Sunset metro stop and for 50 cents you can ride to the Griffith Observatory on the weekends. It’s not hard to find parking, but you might have to wait awhile if you try to park in Griffith Observatory’s parking lot. There is street parking available. Avoid parking at The Greek Theater because they tow cars away at a certain time of day, 3PM on Saturdays.
The Hollywood Sign
Location: The route to the Hollywood Sign is within Griffith Park, but is so tricky to find! They need to put up some signs to lead people the right way. I went with my friend Antoinette and we became friendly with everyone on the path, because we couldn’t figure out on our own where the hell we were supposed to go!
To be brief, you drive past The Greek Theater, go through a tunnel, park, and then take the path on the left. Once you start hiking look for a big water tower and underneath it will be the Hollywood sign. Head towards the water tower like it’s your north star.
Hike difficulty: It starts off super easy, because there isn’t much of an incline for at least a mile or two. Once you get halfway in you’ll start to really burn some calories. To get above the Hollywood sign, walk to the left of the tower and climb the few steps to the top.
Time length of hike: Allot at least two hours roundtrip for this one. When I went, walking at a leisurely pace, it came up to three hours.
The views: If you get to the point where you are above the Hollywood sign, the view is incredible. On one side you see the San Fernando Valley and on the other side you see the rest of LA stretching in to downtown. It’s an amazing view from every angle.
How busy: The hike itself is very long, so groups tend to be very spread out. At the beginning you might not see anyone, but the closer you get the more people (and horses) you will see.
Parking or public transportation: Parking isn’t terrible, again just be weary of towing times in certain parking areas.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Location: Despite the name, it’s located just south of Culver City. The exact location is 6300 Hetzler Road. It’s hard to miss the 500 foot peak.
Hike difficulty: It’s not an actual hike, but you get a similar experience. It’s a large set of steps that you climb to the top, with different levels. I like climbing up a level and running a lap around the mound before moving up to the next level of steps.
Time length of hike: If you go up just once, it will take 10-15 minutes tops. I recommend going up 3- 5 times for a really good workout.
The views: It’s a pretty nice view from the top.
How busy: There’s always people there and since it’s more of a stair
climb, it’s easy to get in others way. Go early in the day for the smaller crowd.
Parking or public transportation: There is street parking available and a $6 parking fee at the visitor center. You want to avoid taking public transportation here, because it’s going to include at least 15 minutes of walking from the closest bus stop.
If you’re looking for a real challenge here are the recommendations I’ve been given by others for harder trails. I will let you all know when I make it up these summits!
- Wildwood Canyon in Burbank
- Zuma Ridge in Malibu
- Sandstone Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu
I want to see your fave hiking spots! Be sure to hashtag #PoshPoisePolish and tag me @VivaciouslyViv!