5 cool SoCal turkey trots, but no stuffing (yourself)

An illustration of a turkey with a gold medal on a ribbon around its neck.
What’s Thanksgiving without a turkey trot? That doesn’t mean you should eat more.
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

If you sat out last year’s Thanksgiving race because of COVID-19 cancelations, take heart. In-person turkey trots are back for 2021, and they are a great way to kick off the holiday and raise money for community charities. Just don’t brag about all the calories you burned while loading up your dinner plate.

Runners who finish a 5K in 30 minutes burn about 342 to 517 calories, depending on how much they weigh. (Those numbers come from the American Council on Exercise, which compared the number of calories burned per minute during different physical activities.) The harder numbers: Americans consume more than 3,000 calories and 159 grams of fat when they eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal, according to the Calorie Control Council. Ouch.

Runners World magazine says you should stop linking the two numbers. “The idea that if you run more, you can eat more, or if you run less, you should eat less is totally false,” this 2020 story reports. “That twisted thought pattern implies that you have to earn your food, or that running is punishment for eating. Nope. We run because we love to run, and we eat in a way that fuels our runs — it’s as simple as that.”


Bottom line: Enjoy running or walking your turkey trot and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner (maybe lightening up on the fat in preparing some dishes) without overdoing it.

There are lots of road races planned for Nov. 25. Here are five that get you moving and give back.

Turkey Trot Los Angeles: This is the classic 5K or 10K downtown run that starts at L.A. City Hall. The race supports the Midnight Mission and its services for the homeless. Entry costs $48 to $52. Kids Widdle Wobble for 12 and younger; .5 to 1-mile run/walk. $28.

Ventura Turkey Trot 5K & Kids 1K: The flat and fast course asks participants to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging’s food drive. Entry costs $35 (plus fees) for the 5K and $15 for the Kids 1K (14 and younger).

Turkey Trot Long Beach: There’s nothing like a beach run to kick off Thanksgiving Day. The Long Beach trot starts at the Granada boat launch east of Belmont Pier and continues to Shoreline Village. Runners and walkers are asked to bring nonperishable food items (there’s a list of needed goods on the website). Proceeds benefit the Community Action Team, which runs community programs and events year-round. Entry costs $40 for the 5K/10K and $30 for the Kids Half-Mile Wingding.

Drumstick Dash LA: Routes for the 5K and 10K take runners through the NoHo Arts District along Lankershim and Magnolia boulevards in North Hollywood. Proceeds benefit Hope of the Valley, which provides meals for homeless people. Sign up before midnight tonight and pay $38 for each race. The half-mile Lil Gobbler Kids Run costs $10. (Prices increase Friday.)


Dana Point Turkey Trot: Dana Point Harbor in Orange County provides the setting for 5K, 10K and 15K combo routes. Proceeds benefit two charities: the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley and the Music Preserves Foundation. Entry costs $43 to $58, depending on the route. Also $20 for the Kids 1-Mile Gobble Wobble (ages 2 to 12).

3 things to do this week

People in hard hats gather on a trail.
Learn to rock scramble with the Wilderness Travel Course.
(Matthew Hengst)

1. How to stay safe in the outdoors? Take this 10-week Sierra Club course. Going into the outdoors can be scary — and it should be. Confidence on the trail comes from experience and skill-building, both of which are covered in the 10-week Wilderness Travel Course developed by the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club. The course teaches navigation, rock scrambling, snow travel, mountain safety and other skills you’ll need to safely explore the mountains and deserts of Southern California and beyond. Students can sign up for the course held at four locations: West L.A., Orange County, San Gabriel Valley and Long Beach. Classes and field trips cost $380 to $415 (if you sign up before Dec. 15) and run January through March. Check out the schedule of classes and other course info here.

People gathered for a hike.
Hike for charity in Cherry Canyon.
(Thomas Lenz)

2. Join a charity hike that explores this La Cañada-Flintridge canyon. Have you never set foot in the San Rafael Hills, a gentle range south of the San Gabriel Mountains and east of the Verdugo Mountains? Here’s your chance to change that. The annual Will Hike for Food trek asks hikers to bring nonperishable food items before taking off on a 3-mile hike in Cherry Canyon. Expect good views of the San Gabriel Valley to the east and the mountains to the north (unless it’s foggy). Food gathered at the hike benefits the Pasadena-based Friends in Deed nonprofit organization. The event, organized by with and, takes place at 9 a.m. Nov. 27. Meet at the Cherry Canyon trailhead (near 4168 Hampstead Road in La Cañada-Flintridge). More details here.

A skier leaps above the snow in "Winter Starts Now."
Amie Engerbretson in “Winter Starts Now.”
(Warren Miller Entertainment)

3. It’s Warren Miller time! The 2021 ski movie comes to SoCal. Nothing stokes winter sports like a Miller film. Even if you aren’t a skier or snowboarder, these movies ignite wonder and awe about all that pros and amateurs do in the snowy outdoors. “Winter Starts Now,” the 72nd in the long-running series, follows big mountain skiers Marcus Caston and Connery Lundin in Alaska, a community of skiers and boarders on Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain and pros on the mountains at big resorts. Miller was passionate about skiing when he made his first film in 1950. Though he died in 2018, the annual films timed to kick off the winter season continue. “Winter Starts Now” shows Nov. 23 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, Nov. 24 at the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, Dec. 7 at Regency Theatres in Santa Ana, Dec. 8 at the Art Theatre of Long Beach, Dec. 9 at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles, Dec. 10 at Hermosa Beach Community Theatre and Dec. 11 at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas. (It also streams on Outside+.) Tickets are available here.

Wild things

Sea otters in a shallow Morro Bay cove.
Sea otters hanging out in a shallow Morro Bay cove.
(Mary Forgione; photo illustration by Micah Fluellen; Getty Images)

I got a great tip about where to see sea otters up close — not from a naturalist but from a server at an Italian restaurant in Morro Bay. She sent me out at night to look for otters in the town’s coastal waters. I couldn’t see a thing in the dark. However, the next morning, all was revealed. The otters anchored themselves in a shallow cove on the Embarcadero walking path that leads to Morro Rock. I didn’t need binoculars to watch the furry creatures flipping, twisting and scratching their heads. Sometimes they cuddle with their babies too. It’s an easy spot to find; ask the locals if you need help. Other good otter viewing sites: Elkhorn Slough (between Santa Cruz and Monterey) and Monterey Bay. By the way, sea otters, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1977, have been hailed as ecosystem superheroes by at least one organization. The reason: They eat sea urchins, which feed on kelp. Too many sea urchins and there go the kelp beds. Sea otters keep the urchin population in check and, in turn, contribute to a healthy coastal habitat.

The must-read

Woman before a fan in her home putting water on her face.
Felisa Benitez, 86, wipes the sweat from her brow outside her home at the San Fernando Gardens Public Housing in Pacoima, where temperatures reached 99 degrees in August.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Government agencies provide air quality rankings every day to warn people about pollution risks. What about heat waves? California may become the first state in the nation to start a ranking system for heat waves, according to this L.A. Times story. California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who will sponsor a bill to develop the ranking system, told The Times: “Without a way to rank heat waves, we treat extreme heat more like a weather story when it’s really a public health crisis.” The move comes after a Times investigation found that heat kills more Californians than the state previously reported and that heat waves disproportionately affect the poor as well as communities of color. Read The Times heat wave stories here.


Visitors enjoy the grand view at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.
Visitors enjoy the grand view at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.
(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

It’s worth noting that Glacier Point Road in Yosemite National Park currently is open. Snow may soon shut the road to the point, which has commanding views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley. When the road is closed, cross-country skiers and snowshoers tackle the 10-plus-mile, one-way route. By the way, Glacier Point Road will be closed in 2022 while workers repave and improve it. It isn’t slated to reopen until spring 2023. That means the only way to get there will be by hiking the Four Mile, Panorama or Pohono trails.

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

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