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16 Jul

Los Angeles Hikes With Spectacular Endings

6 Los Angeles Hikes With Spectacular Endings

Tuesday, July 15, 2014, by Bianca Barragan
These Los Angeles-area hikes, compiled just for Outdoors Week, all come with spectacular sights along the trail—fun bonuses to pile on top of the exercise and fresh-air time, and the perfect carrot to dangle in front of reluctant hikers. As it’s summertime, be on the lookout for rattlesnakes out there and pack more water than you think you’ll need. This list of hiking essentials is a good way to prep for even the shortest of walks in the wilderness.
This Malibu Creek State Park hike has Hollywood connections, as it passes through areas that were used to shoot M*A*S*H and South Pacific. There are some rusted Army Jeeps and other signs of filming here, and it seems like every hiker who passes through stops to have their picture taken with one of the rusty relics. The hike to this point and back is under five miles round-trip and gains less than 200 feet of elevation, making it a pretty good trip for families with kids who can be coerced onto the trail. Heads up: you will have to pay the $12 entrance fee to park in the lot if you want to start the hike at Crags Road; the trailheads for South Grassland Trail and Cistern Trail are both close to free parking. Hikespeak has good directions with pictures here.

? Who doesn’t love picnicking among ruins? The trail to Altadena’s Echo Mountainwill make you work for it. Beginning at the very top of Lake Avenue and through a big, beautiful gate, the five-mile (round trip) trail is all steep-ish switchbacks and little shade, but it’s very well-maintained and just peopled enough that a solo hiker can feel secure. The reward is a dynamic history exhibit and super-shady, very spread-out picnic space left over from the resort that used to be on the site.
Informative signs explain the amenities that once stood on the outcropping, which also affords wide city views. There are also large pieces of a dismantled railroad that brought resort-bound vacationers here, and an old metal echo phone; yell into it and have your words bounce off the mountains back to you. Amazing! SoCal Hiker has image-heavy directions for the five-mile roundtrip hike.
Wildwood Canyon offers an easy-to-moderate, two-mile loop, with a peak providing sweaty explorers some amazing city views and a permanent reclining chair/memorial on which to kick back and relax … until it’s time to carry on. There are picnic grounds, restrooms, and drinking water off of Wildwood Canyon Road, too, so you can compare photos and munch post-hike snacks while you sit down and cool off. Get there early, though: the park closes at sundown.
Eaton Canyon‘s first waterfall isn’t at its most raging right now (drought strikes again!), but it is there and the hike is still a good one and relatively shady (The other waterfalls are closed indefinitely.) The roughly three-mile round-trip hike only gains about 375 feet, so it’s not a crazy climb, and it starts at a nature center, where there are restrooms, water, and people to talk to about the trails. This is a really nice novice hike or ideal for a day when you don’t feel like being in pain later.
By now, a lot of people know about Murphy Ranch—the Rustic Canyon compound built by 1930s Nazi sympathizers that was eventually supposed to have enough self-contained infrastructure to provide for a small town’s worth of people, but who’s really gone through the trouble of seeing the place for themselves? The relatively flat hike comes in at just under four miles and starts only a few miles from the 405. The grounds are graffiti-covered but the structures that were built are still mostly in one piece (or in discernible pieces), and there are staircases and gates still standing, too. It’s a really well-preserved site in a beautiful setting. Hikespeak has detailed directionsfrom the start of the trail.
If all of these seem too tame, there’s always the hike from Sierra Madre’s Chantry Flats to Mt. Wilson, which is a punishing, beautiful trail about seven miles up with a 4,200-mile gain in elevation. Lots of people do this hike as conditioning to work up to bigger mountains. One great reward at the end (if you’re up for it by then) is the Observatory’s weekend tours. They start promptly at 1 pm and offer visitors a chance to see the 100-inch telescope. You can catch it if you start the hike early enough (a good idea anyway because the parking at Chantry Flat fills up fast).
Added bonuses here are the snack shack at the Observatory—cold drinks, food you might buy at a local softball game (chili dogs, Fritos, etc.)—restrooms, and the fact that there’s a parking lot right below the Observatory (about 30 minutes north of La Cañada) where some kind soul can be waiting in a car to take your tired bones home. (Cars parked in the lot will need a $5 day-use Adventure Pass, available for purchase at multiple locations.) You could also continue back down for an approximately 14-mile hike, if desired. Detailed directions here.
Solstice Canyon is popular and with good reason: one hike can show you falls (if you’re lucky), the walls and chimney of a burned-out Paul R. Williams mansion called Tropical Terrace, and the remains of what was once believed to be the oldest building in Malibu. The National Park Service has a great site with directions to the trailhead and a downloadable map. If you go up the Rising Sun Trail and down the Solstice Canyon Trail to the TRW Trail as suggested by Robert Stone in his book Day Hikes Around Los Angeles, it’s about six miles total. ModernHiker takes a slightly different trip.
Mt. Baldy above Claremont hosts a bi-monthly series called Moonlight Hikes, which employs barbecue to get people to come out on summery nights for a short two-and-a-half-mile hike that gains about 1,300 feet of elevation. The hike itself isn’t an insane challenge and the reward here is the amazing far-and-wide views of city lights. Tickets range from $16 to $32, depending on how much you want to hike, and include mountain-top dinner and live music; they’re available online.
· Outdoors Week 2014 [Curbed LA]
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