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Seen our hiking guide? L.A.’s 50 best hikes await

An illustration of people outdoors, some with backpacks, hiking, walking dogs, and sitting and enjoying the view.
( Tomi Um / For The Times)

By Mary Forgione

(View in web browser here.)

Welcome to The Wild!

L.A.'s best-kept secret is hidden in plain sight: It’s a great hiking city. In case you missed it, The Times just dropped the most comprehensive L.A. Hiking Guide it has ever published. We want to inspire you to get out and explore your city and its wild edges — and show you how to get started. Want a print copy? A limited number of hiking guides are still available in the L.A. Times Store.

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But first, we asked Angelenos what made hiking in L.A. magical.

Evelynn Escobar, who started Hike Clerb, a hiking group for women of color, said she moved to the city and embarked on “a much more outdoorsy lifestyle. It made me realize how homogenous the outdoors is: It’s just so overwhelmingly white. I knew I wasn’t the only woman of color who cared about these spaces and had an inkling to go out into nature. I really wanted to bring that experience to other women.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who describes himself as a lifelong hiker, told us: “I really love hiking in Griffith Park. My wife and I love to do the evening hikes. People say hello, but they are usually respectful in the sense of not making it about work. I have had hikes where people want to talk about peace in the Middle East, but for the most part people are friendly and happy to see me out doing something I like to do.”

“Space Force” actress Tawny Newsome shares her love of hiking: “I like being reminded that I’m small and unimportant, even though this business would make me feel otherwise sometimes. What I love about hiking in L.A. is that you can get to things so quickly — you can be an hour from downtown and have some spectacular solitude. What I don’t love about hiking in L.A. is that you can get to things so quickly — and everyone and their mother wants to barge in on your solitude. But I have mixed feelings about that because I very much want more and more people to experience the outdoors.”

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Check out more voices and read the full story. Then start your bucket list with these 50 best hikes in Southern California. Hungry? Find the right sandwich for 22 different hikes in L.A. Want a SoCal adventure like no other? Here’s how to hike L.A.’s wild 67-mile Backbone Trail in eight day hikes. And, while hiking has a diversity problem, these BIPOC groups are working to fix that.

5 things to do this week

A hiker descends the Sam Merrill Trail with views of downtown Los Angeles.
A hiker descends the Sam Merrill Trail with views of downtown Los Angeles, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and beyond to Catalina Island.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

1. Learn the history of Echo Mountain on a hike to the top. As you climb the 2½ miles to the top of this Altadena peak, think about how wonderful it would be to spend the night here. A century ago, people did — at a lavish resort where bands played and stargazing was the premier night activity. Learn the history and how to get there in this Echo Mountain hiking story.

A bridge spans a steep canyon.
The abandoned Bridge to Nowhere is sturdy enough to have lasted 85 years.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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2. Put the Bridge to Nowhere hike on your summer must-do list. This has to be one of the quirkiest hikes in Southern California. Yes, there’s an 85-year-old bridge where you can hang out and take selfies. My colleague Christopher Reynolds did the 10-mile round-trip hike along a creek bed (which you shouldn’t do after heavy rain) and tells you why it’s worthy. Here’s the full story.

A photo illustration.
Birds circle the Los Angeles River.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

3. Learn how to make L.A. a wilder, more habitable place. More than 80% of Americans live in urban areas, developed spaces often written off as eco-wastelands. Or are they? Urban ecologist and educator Kat Superfisky thinks the “new natural habitat” where most of us live can become more habitable for humans, plants and animals. It takes planning and a vision, such as her ideas about re-greening the L.A. River. At 10 a.m. on March 20, Superfisky leads a Zoom talk about finding nature where you least expect it. The talk is hosted by the L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden; register here.

A person snowboards; two others stand beneath a ski lift.
Snow falls Monday at Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs.
(Snow Valley Mountain Resort)

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4. It’s a good week to take a personal snow day. Numbers don’t lie. Recent storms have dropped up to a foot and a half of fresh snow at local ski resorts — finally. It’s good news for boarders, skiers and anyone looking for some snow time. Those who want to revel in winter without skis can grab a 20-minute ride to 7,800 feet on Mt. Baldy’s chair lift for $19.99 or ride to 8,200 feet at Mountain High for $25. Before you go, check the resorts’ websites for weather and driving conditions. Expect most of Angeles National Forest to have snow, even at low elevations. Also, here’s a quick tutorial on how to use tire chains or cables, which may be required on mountain roads.

California trails that take you to the edge of the ocean.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

5. Never heard of the California Coastal Trail? Here’s an explainer. A walking/hiking trail that runs the length of California is a good idea. That’s why this trail has been a work in progress for decades. Some segments of this trail may be familiar; others may take you to gorgeous ocean overlooks you’ve ignored. Here are five parts of the California Coastal Trail that keep it easy and amazing.

Wild things

Illustration of small animals.
Clockwise from top left: Anna’s hummingbird, Pacific or Baja California tree frog, California newt, Western skink, tarantula, ringtail and, at center, California kangaroo rat.
(Alycea Tinoyan / For The Times)

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I can’t decide which of these creatures is the cutest (well, maybe not the tarantula), so you be the judge. Careful observers on creek-side trails may see the orange-bellied California newt, a squishy member of the salamander family. On other trails, you may see a glint of scarlet in the air and wonder whether you imagined it (nope, it’s an Anna’s hummingbird). Look for these California trail animals on your next outdoors adventure.

The must-see

A photo illustration of two people in the outdoors with the outlines of four hawks in a blue sky.
Hawk watcher Hal Cohen.
(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times)

On any given early morning and evening in spring, you’ll find ornithologist Hal Cohen and his team of volunteers counting Swainson’s hawks in Borrego Springs. He’s an admitted hawkaholic who started Borrego Valley Hawkwatch in the Anza-Borrego Desert area in 2003. The idea is to document the number of hawks every spring that pass through on their way from Argentina to Alaska. On Saturday, the count hit 2,700. Anyone can drop in (I did Saturday evening) to watch the birds and hear the clicking of counters by volunteers who keep their binoculars on the birds. Check out this San Diego Audubon Society video that details Cohen’s love of hawks, and watch these birds spiral above the desert floor.

Look up

The red planet.
Mars, as photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.
(NASA)

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Winter ends and spring begins at 2:37 a.m. on Saturday. Why should you care? It’s a good time to get a glimpse of Mars, where the rover Perseverance has been rolling around since Feb. 28. (NASA’s brief job description for the rover is to “seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith [broken rock and soil] for possible return to Earth.”) But back to seeing Mars from your backyard. On Friday night and Saturday evening, find a dark viewing place with a clear view (if possible, without fog or clouds). Look for the crescent moon, Mars and a star called Aldebaran, which will appear to “form a triangle in the evening sky,” according to NASA.

P.S.

Hikers of Los Angeles
(Gemma Correll/For The Times)

What kind of hiker are you? Party bro with a liquid six-pack? The snooty gourmand having a feast? Gemma Correll breaks it down in a graphic treatment of nine L.A. hiking characters you’re bound to see on the trail.

Send us your thoughts

Share anything that’s on your mind. The Wild is written for you and delivered to your inbox for free. Drop us a line at TheWild@latimes.com.

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Click to view the web version of this newsletter and share it with others, and sign up to have it sent weekly to your inbox. I’m Mary Forgione, and I write The Wild. I’ve been exploring trails and open spaces in Southern California for four decades.

Mary Forgione


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