Tag Archives: hike

Nature Outings Around LA

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Every once in a while, a brief trip away from the bustle of metropolitan LA can be a much-needed respite for a USC student. While there are plenty of things to do in the city, there are just as many day trips one can take in the surrounding areas. Going for a hike or bike ride in some different scenery can be a refreshing and inexpensive option for weekends when you would like to spend some time away from campus. I have listed below some of my favorite hikes and nature expeditions you can take in the LA area that will make it feel like you are visiting a place far from the city!

Photo by Praveen Thotagamuwa on Unsplash

One of the more popular places to hike in the LA area is the Sturtevant Falls trail. Located in the Santa Anita Canyon, this approximately 3.5-mile hike is frequently crowded with Angelinos, and follows a steep descent into a lush valley that ends in a spectacular waterfall. There are several other side trails that branch off from the sometimes overly busy path, such as the Upper Winter Creek Trail, which leads into a very dense, green forest that hardly feels as if it were only half an hour from downtown LA. 

Another slightly further destination is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, which hosts large fields of the state’s flower each spring. This reserve is located about an hour and half away from USC, a few miles outside of Lancaster. Often crowded during peak season, it is highly advisable to visit the poppies early in the morning before parking gets too full. Another tip: bring an extra layer even when the temperature is high, as it gets particularly windy at this spot.

Photo by Pamela Heckel on Unsplash

Perhaps my favorite outdoor destination to visit in the area around LA is the Malibu Creek State Park, which is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. This park is filled with miles of beautiful trails, and was also the sight for various feature films, including the MASH series. The Yearling Trail, which starts from Reagan Ranch and leads to Century Lake, is a gentle 4-mile hike that leads through green fields, a Redwood forest, and ends with a glimpse of the Century Lake dam. It is a personal favorite of mine that can be accessed all-year round. 

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Top 5 Southern California Hikes

By Gabrielle Kimche-Gilstrap

Sometimes after spending so much time at or near USC (whether in class, at clubs, or even living in a dorm), it is nice to get off campus and explore outside of South Central. When thinking of California, celebrities, the beach, or even the Hollywood Walk of Fame may come to mind for most people, but outdoor hiking and nature trails are common and a fantastic attraction. Around LA, there are hiking trails in the city, North, and South. Most are dog friendly, feature crafted hiking trails with maps, and even offer parking. One important aspect to consider when visited these parks and trails is the risk and past occurrences of wildfires. Remember to always leave nature better than how you found it! I have listed my top sites 5 below:

Runyon Canyon

Photo by Chris Goldberg on Flickr

Located in the Hollywood Hills, Runyon is a fairly known hike and trail around Los Angeles. Often, you may see the beautiful view of Hollywood posted on Instagram or Facebook tagged at Runyon. People commonly known Runyon as a place to bring dogs, spot celebrities, and see a full skyline. Many dog owners take their pets to Runyon for the off-leash areas. This trail is not very long, as it only extends around 3 miles round trip, but it is still a challenge especially in the summer Southern California heat. Since it is so popular, parking can be a challenge and Uber is recommended, but there is one lot and street parking around the entrance.

Solstice Canyon

Photo by Juan Monroy on Flickr

Solstice Canyon is located near Malibu just West of Los Angeles, so it works best to drive instead of paying for an expensive Uber. Aside from the 2.6 mile round trip hike, Solstice Canyon also features historical ruins and a waterfall. Also, along the Solstice Creek there are picnic tables for a nice outdoor lunch. When passing the ruins, you should see the Roberts Ranch House, which is now protected by the National Parks Service. Next on the trail, you’ll spot a short waterfall down the rocks into the creek. It’s a beautiful sight!

Cahuenga Park

Photo by Michael McCarty on Flickr

Another park in the Hollywood Hills is Cahuenga Park, which leads to a view of the Hollywood Sign and the Wisdom Tree. Again here, there is not much parking except street parking around the bottom. Heading up the East trail, there is a 1.6 mile round trip hike to the Wisdom Tree. This trail is more rugged and less paved than Runyon Canyon, and it gets steep at points. To the West, the trail gets even steeper and more rugged, but eventually leads to the back side of the Hollywood Sign. Both of these trails offer a large amount of elevation for a short distance. 

Santa Anita Canyon

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The most challenging hike on this list, the Santa Anita Canyon, is a whopping 8.7 mile loop, best made for a full day hike with lunch and swimming stops. The Santa Anita Canyon is located Northeast of Pasadena, so it is again best to drive and park in the lots or along the street below. Along this trail, there are numerous cabins, a 60-foot waterfall, and an escape from Los Angeles. The waterfall is comes up in the first half of the trail, so you can jump in then dry off the rest of the way. 

Sandstone Peak

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Sandstone Peak is the furthest hike to the East, past Santa Monica and Malibu but is one of the highest points in Southern California. You can see jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Bay. The summit is over 3,000 feet and follows a 6.25 mile loop. This hike features another picnic area and plenty of shade on the way up. Another beautiful aspect are the Grottoes with creeks and pools.

Featured image by Lital Levy on Unsplash


Gabi is a Pre-Law sophomore majoring in Law, History, and Culture in Dornsife with a minor in Culture, Media, and Entertainment from Annenberg. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia before fulfilling her dream of moving to Los Angeles for college. On the weekends, Gabi loves to go to the beach, visit museums, go shopping, watch movies, hike, read, work out, do yoga, and spend time with friends. Back home, Gabi has one younger sister, who she is very close with and for whom she acts as a role model and mentor. In high school, Gabi worked with many international exchange students through an organization called ICES. She loves traveling, meeting new people, and learning about other cultures.