As you drive up the 101 toward the Valley, you encounter the most distinctive nighttime skyline in Los Angeles. No, not the flickering marquees of Hollywood or the postmodern peaks of Downtown L.A. Instead, it's the toothpick silhouettes of palm trees that outline the soft glow of the hills. Though the views are great from the road, they're even better from one of L.A.'s best hikes. As the sun sets and the temperatures cool off, it's the perfect time to take one of these night hikes—just make sure to bring a flashlight.
6 night hikes to tackle after dark
Sure, you’ve driven up to Griffith Observatory at night, but have you ever taken a hike after twilight? Climb up the Mt. Lee Trail on the western edge of the rugged park to pop up behind the Hollywood Sign. Need a guide? Meet up with the local Sierra Club chapter near the merry-go-round on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for some serious conditioning—or on the Friday closest to a full moon for a post-hike potluck. Griffith Park stays open until 10pm nightly, which affords you quite a few hours of darkness in non-summer months.
Meet at 4730 Crystal Springs Dr (323-644-2050); Tue, Thu at 7pm; select Fri at 7pm.
A sign at the entrance to the Sam Merrill Trail declares, a quiet refuge for people and wildlife forever. We’d gladly spend forever above the city lights on this mountain hike. It’s a strenuous 1,000-foot-plus ascent to the Echo Mountain House, but the vantage from way above the San Gabriel Valley is well worth it.
Enter at Lake Ave and E Loma Alta Dr, Altadena.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/James B
Los Leones Canyon
As coastal crowds bunch together on the beaches and piers for sunset, set out on this lush canyon climb instead. A bench at the top of the 1.35-mile trail is an ideal spot to watch the sun go down, fog roll in and calm lights turn on across the curve of the Santa Monica Bay.
Enter at 510 Los Liones Dr.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Martin C
George F Canyon
For the kid who stays up late, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy offers easygoing, family-friendly full-moon tours through nocturnal critter–inhabited shrubs.
Meet at 27305 Palos Verdes Dr East, Rolling Hills Estates. $12.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jenn L
Coldwater Canyon Park
Just over on the Valley side of Coldwater Canyon, the nonprofit group TreePeople plants and cares for native and exotic trees across an idyllic 45-acre park. And on the third Friday of each month, the group leads hour-long moonlight tours (7:30pm, $5) of its hillside trails.
Meet at 12601 Mulholland Dr, Beverly Hills.
Photograph: Courtesy TreePeople/James Kellogg
The Wisdom Tree
The sole surviving pine tree after a 2007 fire, this gnarled landmark atop Cahuenga Peak has taken on an almost spiritual air—particularly during a serene sundown hike. Your reward for a huff-and-puff ascent? Sweeping views of the Valley below.
Enter at Wonder View Dr east of Lake Hollywood Dr.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Eugene Kim