Best hikes in LA: Get outdoors and view the city from the hills

From secluded mountain treks in Altadena to unparalleled people-watching in Runyon Canyon, here are five of the best hikes in LA with great views of the city.

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  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

  • Photograph: Benny Haddad

    Best hikes: Echo Mountain

Photograph: Benny Haddad

Best hikes: Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain, Altadena


“A quiet refuge from people and wild life forever,” declares a sign at the entrance to the Sam Merrill trail. While you’ll only linger here for a few hours, forever wouldn’t be too long. This hike feels more like a weekend destination than an after-work jaunt, unless you live in the neighborhood. And based on the camel packs and hiking poles, the crowd who comes is a bit more serious about hiking, than say, at Griffith, but that doesn’t mean it’s too challenging for a novice.

The hike begins by scaling the wall of a canyon and emerging onto the face of the mountain about 15 minutes later. The views of downtown LA, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley are stellar even at low levels. But once you get to the top, there’s the added bonus of a fascinating LA history: In 1894, ambitious industrialists linked this mountaintop to nearby Pasadena with a train and then established an alpine resort, the White City, complete with a 70-room mansion. Two fires burned everything to the ground within a decade of its opening. All that’s left now are ruined foundations and train tracks for hikers to explore and picnic on. It's a poetic view of the charred remains of a long-lost dream.

Sam Merrill Trail

Address: E Loma Alta Dr at Lake Ave

Hours: Part of the Angeles National Forest, the trail doesn’t officially close and is popular with night hikers.

Parking: Look for street parking by the entrance.

Pets? Dogs allowed on leashes.

Length: 5 miles

Time: 2.5-3.5 hrs


Users say

6 comments
Maria F
Maria F

Miss Heaven's Bustop at the top of Runyon!

Justin S
Justin S

Whatever dumbass wrote this article gave the wrong address for the Sara Wan Trailhead. 25623 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu 90265

Jack
Jack

Great site to explore the city.

Julie Kashen
Julie Kashen

Corral Canyon is awesome, but the address you have listed is wrong. Newport Beach is also beautiful, but not as good for a great hike. I recommend you correct the address.

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