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Hollywood Bowl Overlook
Photograph: Michael JulianoHollywood Bowl Overlook

Some L.A. parks are closing until further notice after a busy weekend on the trails

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

While the recent “safer at home” order to combat coronavirus makes it clear that walking and hiking are still encouraged in Los Angeles, it also makes another unambiguous point: that you can only do so if you’re practicing proper social distancing measures (i.e. staying at least six feet away from other people). But it seems like that second point wasn’t clear to plenty of Angelenos this weekend as plenty of people packed in beaches and trails.

Now the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which operates around 70 parks and overlooks, most of them in the Santa Monica Mountains and along the L.A. River, announced on Sunday that it would be shuttering all of its parks and trails, effective immediately and until further notice. Some popular MRCA spots include Fryman Canyon ParkTemescal Gateway Park, Vista Hermosa Natural Park, Trebek Open Space, the Ballona Creek Trail and Bike Path and all overlooks along Mulholland Drive.

“To protect the health and safety of all in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, all MRCA-operated parks, trails, and building facilities, including public restrooms, will be closed until further notice,” the agency said in a statement. “This includes all parks that are owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.”

As for the beach crowds, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti is closing beach parking lots in Venice starting on Monday—though not the beach itself (at least not yet). Garcetti also ordered the closure of all facilities and recreation at city parks, as well as parking lots at all city beaches (which, other than Venice, only includes Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro—every other beach belongs to the county, state or another city).

In Santa Monica, the city has ordered beach parking lots closed effective immediately. “Today is not the day to go to the beach,” said Santa Monica city manager Rick Cole in a statement. “This is a time when we must take the guidelines from our health officials to heart. We urge our residents to avoid any public spaces where social distancing is a challenge.” However, the beach itself does remain open, as that’s run by California State Parks (which is reiterating its social distancing advice). 

Meanwhile in Long Beach, mayor Robert Garcia has ordered the closure of a number of parks, with additional guidance to come for beaches. 

UPDATE (3/23): L.A. County declared on Monday that hiking trails within the county will be closed. An announcement from county supervisor Kathryn Barger clarified that this applies specifically to hiking trails operated by the county—like Eaton Canyon—as opposed to every trail in the county. Parks and venues like the L.A. County Arboretum—which, as its name implies, is run by the county—are still open, albeit on an outdoor-only basis. You can read the full statement from the county here.

In addition, in an address on Monday, Gov. Newsom said that state parking lots (Newsom mentioned nine of them are in L.A.) will be shut down immediately. While this doesn’t shutter the parks themselves—and some spots like the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve are still allowing parking—it does close parking lots at state beaches, as well as the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. “I don’t want to close big beautiful open spaces,” says Newsom. “But we can’t see what we saw over the weekend happen again.” 

These moves probably don’t come as a surprise for people who kept a close eye on social media or the news on this first weekend of a California-wide stay-at-home order: For every report of empty freeways, there was another of business-as-usual trails and beaches. Joshua Tree had to shut its gates to car traffic. Runyon Canyon was trending on Twitter because, well, this is what it looked like on Saturday:

And over on the beaches, while some people kept their distance, there was still plenty of activity along Venice and Manhattan Beach. 

While the options to go outdoors may be dwindling (for all of our health and safety), L.A.’s “safer at home” order does still specifically allow Angelenos to still walk, hike and exercise outdoors. Just please do so responsibly (consider avoiding spots that you know will be crowded, and if you get there). 

Here’s the full list of temporary closures below.

MRCA (trails closed):

Alisa Belinkoff Katz Las Virgenes Valley Overlook
Ballona Creek Trail and Bike Path
Barbara A. Fine Overlook at the Summit
Cameron Nature Preserve at Puerco Canyon
Compton Creek Natural Park at George Washington Elementary
Corral Canyon Park – Sara Wan Trailhead
David M. Brown Overlook
Dixie Canyon Park
East & Rice Canyon
Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon
Egret Park
Elyria Canyon Park
Elysian Valley Gateway Park
Escondido Canyon Park
Fran Pavley Meadow
Franklin Canyon Park
Franklin-Ivar Park
Fryman Canyon Park
Garden of the Gods
Great Heron Gates at Rattlesnake Park
Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park
Jerome C. Daniel Overlook above the Hollywood Bowl
King Gillette Ranch
La Tuna Canyon Park
Las Virgenes View Park
Lechuza Beach
Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park (Formerly Marsh Park)
Lopez Canyon Park
Los Angeles River Center & Gardens
Los Angeles River Greenway
Los Angeles River Recreation Zone
Malibu Road Beach Access
Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park
Michael D. Antonovich Open Space
Michael D. Antonovich Regional Park at Joughin Ranch
Milton Street Park
Mulholland Scenic Parkway and Corridor
Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook
Newhall Pass Trailhead
Oso Park
Pacoima Wash Natural Park
Pico Canyon
Red Rock Canyon Park
Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom
Ritter Ranch
Rocky Peak Park
Saddletree Ranch Trailhead
Sage Ranch Park
San Vicente Mountain Park
Santa Clarita Woodlands Park
Santa Monica Mountains Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center
Seminole Overlook
Steelhead Park
Stone Canyon Overlook
Summit Valley Edmund D. Edelman Park
Temescal Gateway Park
Top of Topanga Overlook
Trebek Open Space
Triunfo Creek Park
Tuna Canyon Park
Universal City Overlook
Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahmanson Ranch)
Verdugo Mountains Open Space Preserve
Vista Hermosa Natural Park
Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park
Whitney Canyon Park
Wilacre Park
Wilson Canyon Park
Zev Yaroslavsky L.A. River Greenway Trail
Zev Yaroslavsky Las Virgenes Highlands Park

California State Parks (parking lots closed, parks still open):

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
El Matador State Beach
Leo Carrillo State Park (SP)
Malibu Creek SP
Malibu Lagoon State Beach (SB)
Point Dume SB
RH Meyer SB
Topanga SP
Will Roger's State Historic Park (SHP)

L.A. County multi-use trails (closed)

See the full (long) list here.

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