Just outside DTLA, there’s a scenic, dog-friendly hike where race cars once roared
The entrance to Ascot Hills in Los Angeles. The park offers a large open space with views of downtown Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium and Palos Verdes.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Tristan Bielecki and his dog Brownie enjoy the blooming flowers on the lower level of Ascot Hills.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
A hiker heads to the top of Ascot Hills.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
A woman and her dog follow a trail.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
A view of the homes below Ascot Hills.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Palm trees line the lower level of Ascot Hills.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Amy Switzer of Rose Hills walks with her dog Leia in Ascot Hills.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
A lone flower blooms at Ascot Hills.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Parkgoers enjoy a view of downtown Los Angeles.(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
From 1924 to 1936, tens of thousands of fans filled the stands at New Ascot Speedway near Ascot Hills Park, just minutes outside downtown Los Angeles. Now the 93 acres of hillside above the long-gone El Sereno racetrack are a quiet refuge for walkers and their dogs.
Start this walk in the first parking lot, to the left off Multnomah Street. Continue up the driveway toward another parking lot, past a set of public restrooms. Leave the parking lot on the other end and walk past a wide gate up a wide dirt road.
At the complicated six-way intersection, go more or less straight, staying on flat ground, walking along a low fence made of old telephone poles.
Walk toward a chain-link fence marked with Department of Water and Power signs — there’s a reservoir back in that canyon — then turn left. Walk about 30 feet along the fence line, then turn left again and follow a narrow trail as it veers slightly right and begins to climb the slope.
At the first trail crossing, make a hard right and continue doglegging up the hill until you hit the main trail. Here or farther up to the right you can take in the huge views of downtown L.A., Dodger Stadium, Palos Verdes and Santa Catalina. That’s County General Hospital over to the right and Woodrow Wilson Senior High School to the left.
Follow the main trail downhill, bearing right at the intersection. Pass a wide low gate and make a hard right back into the parking lot where you started.
Fleming is the author of “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and “Secret Walks: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles.” To join his free monthly walks in and around Los Angeles, visit the Secret Stairs Facebook page.
Hiking in El Sereno: The stats
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: 3, on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1 hour
Details: Ample free parking. The park is open sunrise to sunset. Dogs on a leash are OK.