The road less traveled: LA hiking trails

It’s that time of year — the weather is beautiful and the anticipation of summer is starting to hang in the air. For Angelenos, this time of year is the time to recover from “winter” and head out to the many hiking trails that the city has to offer.

Yes indeed, there are numerous great trails around the L.A. area, aside from the well-known Hollywood sign hike. Here are just a few, from the least daunting paths to challenging treks for the more ambitious hiker.

The Bronson Canyon trail, accessible from Hollywood, is a pleasant jaunt around a small portion of Griffith Park. Only about a mile in distance round-trip, the trail gives hikers a taste of Griffith Park without forcing them to commit to an overly challenging hiking experience. The trek is tame in its incline as well, and while hikers will find themselves in a slight climb at the beginning of their hike, the trail soon levels out and becomes very manageable.

The biggest draw to this trail is Bronson Cave, which is actually a tunnel about 50 feet in length that remains from a quarry founded in 1903. Upon seeing it, hikers may recall the cave from its appearance in many television shows and movies, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and some of the Star Trek films. Most significantly, this mouth of the cave can be recognized as the “Batcave” that appeared on the 1960s Batman television series. To access the trail, take Franklin Avenue to Canyon Drive, and drive until the road ends at the Camp Hollywoodland sign.

Next, the Lake Hollywood Reservoir walking trail takes hikers, bikers and joggers on a scenic trip around the Hollywood Reservoir, also known as Lake Hollywood. Located just west of Griffith Park and below Mount Lee, the peak that features the famous Hollywood sign, the trail circles the reservoir for about three and a half miles and also features the famous Hollywood sign. The distance should not sound daunting, however, because the entirety of the trail is actually a paved road around Lake Hollywood that remains almost completely level throughout.

The paved trail gives hikers beautiful views of Lake Hollywood, though the views are mostly seen through a chain-link fence that separates the trail from the water. Despite this, as hikers cross over the Mulholland Dam, they will be treated to unobstructed views of the beautiful blue water, the surrounding hills and the Hollywood sign in the distance. William Mulholland built the dam in 1925, and hikers can appreciate the architectural feat as they linger to take in the scenic view. Access to the Hollywood Reservoir walking trail can be easily found by following Lake Hollywood Drive through the neighborhood and into the hills.

Leaving Hollywood and heading over to Culver City, hikers can tackle the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. The main trail, accessed right off a main road, quickly climbs a one-mile incline by zigzagging up the hill. The incline is fairly steep, however, and hikers would be advised to take their time. Those who attempt this trail will want to slowly make their way up the trail anyway in order to take in the breathtaking views of the city. Cutting straight through the trail is a very steep set of stairs, which the more intense hikers or joggers may want to tackle for a great workout.

Once hikers reach the summit of the hill, they will find themselves at a stunning scenic overlook. On a clear day, the entire city of Los Angeles is visible, from the coast to downtown and beyond. In the foreground, hikers will notice film studios such as Sony Pictures studio, which is noticeable from the viewpoint because of the giant trademark rainbow structure erected in the middle of the studio grounds.

The trek is incredibly rewarding for hikers who want to tackle a more intense incline and who appreciate panoramic views of Los Angeles. It is accessible right off of Jefferson Boulevard in Culver City.

The Betty B. Dearing Trail will bring hikers to Wilacre Park, located in Studio City. Access to the trail begins at the parking lot off of Fryman Road that has restrooms and a water fountain, a plus for hikers who may have come unprepared. The trek, which spans about two and a half miles in length, is not for the faint of heart. The trail immediately starts at a very steep incline that will not level out for at least a quarter of a mile.

After the intense incline, the trail slowly begins to level out and hikers will be relieved with lovely, panoramic views of the San Fernando Valley. Hikers are then brought to Coldwater Canyon Park, home of TreePeople environmental nonprofit organization and trailheads for more treks within the park.

As a bonus for reality TV fans, upon exiting the trail in the neighborhood and walking back to the parking lot, hikers can spot the house that appears as the Kardashian-Jenner abode in Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Difficult but rewarding, the Betty B. Dearing Trail is great for a weekend workout for more seasoned hikers and fitness seekers. The parking lot and trailhead can be found off of Laurel Canyon Boulevard after driving a mile south to Fryman Road.

Clearly, there is so much more to explore on the trails of Los Angeles than the overdone, though still lovely, Hollywood sign hike. These lesser-known treks will not disappoint and will definitely offer new perspectives on the city. So, instead of Instagramming yet another view from the Hollywood sign, why not take the trail less traveled?