Here is a lovely country-in-the-city walk, with delightful views, varied greenery and an unlikely hilltop lake — all within 15 minutes of downtown Los Angeles.
The view across Via Marisol into Hermon Park, at the beginning of a hike into Ernest Debs Regional Park. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
1. Begin walking from the parking lot at Hermon Park, just off Via Marisol, in the Arroyo Seco. Exit at the driveway, cross Via Marisol, and take the trail around the big black gates and up the dirt road straight ahead.
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2. Take a break near the peak inside the wood-and-concrete pagoda, which offers fine views of the San Gabriel Mountains. You've entered Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, a 300-acre city facility named after a former Los Angeles City Council member.
The late afternoon scene at Peanut Lake inside Ernest E. Debs Regional Park. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
3. At the fork in the paved road, veer right to discover the surprising Peanut Lake — a tiny, charming body of water perched atop a hill inside Ernest E. Debs Regional Park that has convenient benches and dramatic views of downtown Los Angeles. Nearby are remains of a water feature that used to augment the lake — rocky cascades with freestone walkways.
Maria Hernandez walks her dog Linky into Ernest E. Debs Regional Park. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
4. Returning the way you came, look for a left turn just after the concrete bunker and just before a length of chain link fence, onto a wide dirt path. Head downhill.
A bench sits on a ridge that offers views of Southwest Museum and the surrounding mountains. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
5. Stop at the well-placed benches for views of the Southwest Museum across the Arroyo, and the Audubon Center at Debs Park just below. Continuing on, take the road below the benches, not above, and walk downhill and to the right.
6. At the Y intersection, just after a rock staircase and green handrails on your right, bear right, staying on the dirt road.
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7. At the last fork in the road, just after a rock circle on your right, take a hard right and continue on the dirt road. When you reach the crest, you're back on the original trail. Go straight ahead, walking downhill, to return to Hermon Park.
Charles Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles."
Distance: 3.5 miles
Duration: 1 hour
Difficulty: 2.5 (on a scale of 1 to 5)
Details: Park at Hermon Park off Via Marisol or take Metro bus No. 256.
FOR THE RECORD:
L.A. Walks: In an article in the Jan. 19 Saturday section detailing a hike at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, the "Stats" box gave an incorrect duration for the hike. The hike takes about 1- 1/2 hours, not 1 hour.