Hiker looking at mountains made of ice cream cones
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

The perfect ice cream (or other cold treat) to pair with 7 SoCal hikes

If you’re like me, you can’t not be outside — even in the blistering heat of an L.A. summer. It’s essential to stay hydrated (and find shady respites) whether you’re hiking on the trails or cycling across town, and it’s also nice to reward yourself when you’re done.

Enter my favorite summer pairing: treks and treats. As a constant seeker of icy cold drinks and snacks, I’ve compiled a list of seven hikes and nature walks, along with refreshing rewards nearby.

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Hillside Wilderness Preserve in Monrovia.
(Matt Pawlik)

Hillside Wilderness Preserve + boba at Cup of Cha, Monrovia

Monrovia Hike
🥾: Head to Monrovia’s Hillside Wilderness Preserve, a far less popular option than neighboring Monrovia Canyon (currently closed), for a 2.75-mile out-and-back that ascends more than 500 feet through quiet Clamshell Canyon and offers panoramic views of downtown Monrovia and the surrounding San Gabriel Valley.

🧋: Post-hike, venture to the city’s charming old town for a treat at Cup of Cha, which has an incredible variety of boba tea and slushes (I like the “O.M.G.” and coffee-forward Owlkaido). For those who prefer to enjoy their sweets with a spoon, Moo Moo Mia is an ice cream joint nearby that offers a seasonal menu that includes flavors such as Cajeta Toasted Coconut, Sweet Taro and Almond Chocolate Croissant.
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LOS ANGELES, CA - Debs Lake at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park and reward your pup with social hour and not one, but two local dog parks along the LA River.
(Matt Pawlik)

Ernest E. Debs Regional Park + a smoothie at Tropical Juice L.A., Highland Park

Montecito Heights Hike
🥾: The 300-acre Ernest E. Debs Regional Park just northeast of downtown Los Angeles is a bona fide oasis. Park at the Audubon Center (the first carbon-neutral building in the U.S.), grab a trail map and opt for a 5-mile loop starting on the Scrub Jay Trail. Don’t forget to look out for the blue-winged residents among other local avians. At the top of your climb, enjoy a tranquil pond and phenomenal views of the downtown skyline.

🥤: After, head a few blocks north to Highland Park’s lively Figueroa Street to find the colorful window of Tropical Juice L.A., serving bionicos, fruit cocktails, ice cream and my favorite smoothies in the city. If you can’t decide, go for the jugo energético for a delicious pick-me-up.
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A view of Whittier Narrows rec area hike.
(Matt Pawlik)

Whittier Narrows Recreation Area + mangonada at Garcia’s Fruits, South El Monte

Whittier Narrows Hike
🥾: In the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, you can do it all — pedal a bike, pedal a boat, paddle a kayak, hike, jog, fish, dog-walk, bird-watch, disc golf or just plain enjoy 1,492 acres of lovely public space. Whatever method you choose, at the very least you should explore the 2-mile loop around Legg Lake for some serene views and waterfowl sightings (look for Canada geese, ducks, coots, great blue herons and egrets). You’ll also spy the unique sculptures of Benjamin Dominguez and two other smaller lakes.

🥭: Combine it with a trip to nearby Garcia’s Fruit, which may have the city’s best mangonada (chamango), which has sorbet, chili, chamoy, a tamarind straw and, of course, mango slices. They also have ice cream, paletas, raspados and aguas frescas (go for sandia watermelon in the summer).
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Photos from the classic Griffith Park Hike with views of the Hollywood sign and sprawling valley.
(Matt Pawlik)

Griffith Park + sugarcane juice and halo halo at Ko Juice, Glendale

🥾: People often talk about the incredible variety within Griffith Park and for good reason — the 4,210-acre green space is the largest urban-wilderness municipal park in the United States, and arguably the best (sorry, New Yorkers). On your next visit, opt for a challenging classic, like 5.25-mile Fern Dell to Mt. Hollywood route, or a tranquil escape, like the 1-mile trip to Amir’s Garden. Or why not do both?

🍧: Your local treat destination: Glendale’s Ko Juice, known for its fresh, hydrating sugar cane juices. They also serve halo halo, an epic Filipino dessert that mixes shaved ice, coconut, milk, sweet beans and more.
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Hikers walk along a path leading to the Backbone Trail.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Will Rogers State Historic Park + Hawaiian shave ice at Brian’s Shave Ice, Sawtelle

🥾: It’s no secret that the Pacific Palisades is home to beautiful beaches, but there’s also some of the most radical hiking on the Westside of L.A. Two stand out: a gut-busting 4.75-mile loop hike to Skull Rock in Temescal Gateway Park and a gentler 2.25-mile loop to Inspiration Point in Will Rogers State Historic Park. Both offer some of the best coastal views in the city.

🍧: Hold fast to that beach energy and head to Brian’s Shave Ice in Sawtelle. Sibling owners Cole and Karlen Kunitomo bring a slice of Hawaii with classic flavors like Tiger’s Blood (strawberry/coconut), Li Hing Mui (sweet dry plum) and POG (passion/orange/guava).
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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: View of downtown Los Angeles, as seen through a growth of black mustard, from Elysian Park on a summer-like Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Elysian Park + bingsu at Oakobing, Koreatown

Elysian Park Hike
🥾: Yes, downtown L.A. has a rugged natural gem. The 600-acre Elysian Park is the oldest park in the city and has trails through urban forests, historic botanic gardens and some of the best vistas of the city (like Angel’s Point). For a more hidden serene sanctuary (though hardly a secret), check out Vista Hermosa Natural Park. Although much smaller than Elysian, the views are just as grand.

🍧: For a massive treat, head to Oakobing in Koreatown for some of the best (and biggest) bingsu around. Red bean and condensed milk are the most common toppings on the fluffy snow mountains of shaved ice (patbingsu), you can also try Oreo tiramisu or mango flakes presented in a whole pineapple.
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Three friends covering their faces with masks and sitting at safe distance from each other chat sitting at a picnic table.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park + tofu pudding at Meet Fresh, Hacienda Heights

🥾: Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park in Hacienda Heights is a 575-acre urban wilderness that features tons of different hiking and equestrian options through chaparral and with huge views to the north of the hulking San Gabriels. There’s also a quaint stream, a hummingbird and butterfly garden, plenty of oak woodland picnic areas and cherry blossoms in the spring. Start at the Colima Road entrance for a shorter loop, or take it all the way to Powder Canyon to the south for a more strenuous route.

🍨: After your adventure of choice, it’s time for tons of Taiwanese dessert options at Meet Fresh across the street. It’s known for its taro balls, tofu pudding (douhua), grass jelly and purple rice options; everything is amazing, and even better after a long hike.
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