Comedians in cars? Nope. Kevin Nealon takes his celebrity guests out to L.A. trails
What’s the best venue for a talk show with your friends? For actor and comedian Kevin Nealon, it’s on the trail.
Nealon, known for his roles on “SNL,” “Weeds” and “Happy Gilmore,” created “Hiking With Kevin,” a digital series in which he invites his famous pals to hike on L.A. trails and chat about their lives. “Pull up those Spanx, take your protein pills and why don’t we go take a hike?” he says in his opening. Guests have included Jack Black in Griffith Park, Marie Osmond in Newbury Park and Michael Keaton in Will Rogers State Historic Park.
The show started in 2017 when Nealon, a Malibu resident, posted a video of him and his actor friend Matthew Modine talking while out of breath as they climbed a steep canyon. Now entering its fourth season, which launches Oct. 27 on YouTube, the show has evolved to include international locales and upgraded equipment (Nealon uses a drone to film the hikes but he almost flew it “into the face of Kim Basinger.” Now he’s teaching his son how to fly the drone so he doesn’t have to.). I had a chance to chat with Nealon about what’s new on the show and why he loves hiking in L.A.
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What makes interviewing people on a trail so special?
It is very disarming to be in nature for an interview — there’s no audience or chair with bright lights on them. People are a lot more relaxed, revealing and forthcoming. It’s amazing what some people will say while hiking.
What do you love about hiking in Los Angeles?
There are such a variety of trails here. You can be hiking one trail with a waterfall with beautiful trees and then another with spectacular views of the ocean.
When I hike alone, it’s almost like a meditation. I get a lot of thinking done. The best place for me to write is on the trail.
What are a couple hiking tips you’ve learned?
When you get poison oak, you’re supposed to use Dawn dish detergent. When you see a rattlesnake, don’t throw stones at it, stomp really hard so they feel the vibrations and scurry off.
Nealon’s top 3 L.A. hikes
He offered some Malibu gems:
- Point Dume: The popular 1.4-mile loop is “not that challenging, but the views are amazing.”
- Temescal Canyon: “I go there a lot,” Nealon said. “With the tree coverage, you can go there year-round. Plus, there’s a waterfall.”
- Solstice Canyon: Historical ruins, ocean views and a waterfall. What’s not to like?
While talking with Nealon, who has a new book coming out in October, I was reminded of the beautiful bonuses of being on the trail. Sure, a solo workout in Malibu is a great way to work up a sweat while gazing at a gorgeous ocean vista, but it’s also a chance to be with your thoughts. And conquering a peak in the San Gabriels is not only easier when you’ve got a partner to motivate you up the final ascent, but it’s also the perfect time to chat about your lives.
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4 things to do this week
1. Participate in the largest trash cleanup in the Eastern Sierras. Last week, I wrote about the incredible efforts of the Yosemite Facelift. On Saturday, the spirit of National Public Lands Day continues on the other side of the Sierra Nevada with Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s Facelift Act event. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., stop by the Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center to volunteer. Sign up here.
2. Take a turtle trek in the Los Cerritos Wetlands in Seal Beach. Enjoy a guided nature walk with the Los Cerritos Land Trust and Tidal Influence ecologists to learn about the local flora and fauna of the Los Cerritos Wetlands from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday. You’ll be searching for the Pacific green sea turtles who have taken up residence in the San Gabriel River and learning about how to restore the wetlands. Register here.
3. Find “inspiración en la naturaleza” (inspiration in nature) on a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a trek with National Park Service rangers on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at King Gillette Ranch. The short, scenic 2-mile guided hike will be offered entirely in Spanish, featuring lessons on the natural, archaeological and modern history of the mountains as you journey from the Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center to Inspiration Point.
4. Enjoy birding, an African American history walk and more at Pasadena’s Walktober 2022. Supported by the Pasadena Department of Transportation, the picturesque San Gabriel Valley town is hosting a series of free “walking tours and fun activities on foot” throughout October. Kick things off this weekend with Pasadena Audubon Society’s birding walk through Hahamongna Watershed Park (Saturday at 8 a.m.), a 3-mile guided tour of Pasadena African American history with NAACP’s Pasadena Branch (Saturday at 9:30 a.m.), and the Pasadena Hollywood Backlot Walking Tour (Sunday at 10:00 a.m.), which explores the city’s famous film locales. Walk on, Pasadena!
Check out “The Times” podcast for essential news and more.
These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
Hike of the week
Crave a quick getaway to kick off Rocktober? Take a trip to the American Southwest without leaving SoCal. Featured in my 12 best trails of Orange County, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon has a stunning red rock canyon reminiscent of those found in Sedona in Arizona or Zion National Park in Utah.
To get to Orange County’s backyard badlands, hop onto Borrego Canyon Trail at the park’s entrance plaza for a 4.25-mile out-and-back adventure through a small portion of the 2,500-acre park (grab a map to check out more of the 23 trails). The path actually meanders along (and sometimes over) multiple creeks through the heavily shaded riparian and oak woodland canyon for most of the journey. You also might spot resident fauna, from mule deer to striped racer snakes to acorn woodpeckers.
Follow signs and head north on a sandy wash, where the red stone pinnacles come into view, looming above the chaparral-dotted canyon. Signs detail the awe-inspiring geological gems, which were sculpted by water and wind over millions of years, and remind you to look, not climb.
The red flag
Preparing for “the big one” is an Angeleno tradition. Whether reading the L.A. Times’ guide for being ready for a quake or buying a pre-made earthquake kit, you have to be ready. Here’s a story that emphasizes the point. Times writer Salvador Hernandez reports that the Palos Verdes fault zone is a seismic threat comparable to the deadly San Andreas fault. While earlier reports showed the Palos Verdes fault zone could produce up to a magnitude 7.4 earthquake, the new study demonstrates a potential to trigger a 7.8 (this sounds like a minor difference, but it actually indicates a quadruple in energy release). While the new information is certainly worrisome, it can only help us better understand the hazards and locations of future earthquakes, which might save lives in the future.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Southern California’s urban coyotes are here to stay. Times reporter Louis Sahagún recently delved inside the war against our resident canines, where some point to horrific stories about lost pets and unprovoked attacks while others promote conservation and coexistence. Chase Niesner, a PhD candidate at the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, has even coined a phrase — “cloud coyotes” — to “describe the disharmony between urban dwellers and the intelligent predator” and the different perspectives on coyotes through social media and in the real world. No matter which side you are on, we can all agree that we must continue to learn about and coexist with our versatile four-legged neighbors.
What does it mean to be from California? California visionaries Greg Sarris and Obi Kaufmann explore the question in their new video podcast, “Place and Purpose.” Recorded and broadcast live once per month in the backcountry of Sonoma Mountain, the two Golden State chroniclers cover topics ranging from California ecology to historic policy to Indigenous wisdom. Their continued conversation is profound, optimistic and perfect listening material at home or on a natural stroll. “We hope listeners are able to walk out their door, see the trees, smell the air and think about things in a different and new way,” Sarris told me. Check out their next live broadcast on Oct. 6 from UCLA’s campus (where Sarris was once a professor) and join in on the conversation.
When I first took the reins of The Wild in July, I wrote about my experience kayaking the L.A. River, something all Angelenos should try once. Now, in my final issue, I’d like to once again celebrate our beautiful, misunderstood waterway. Last weekend, Friends of the L.A. River hosted the first L.A. River Fest at L.A. State Historic Park, a free community event demonstrating the river’s “deep connection to art, environmental justice, community health, and climate adaptation.” Through films on a 45-foot screen, Indigenous performances, educational talks, an interpretive exhibit, numerous local booths and even a special beer release in partnership with Frogtown Brewery, attendees (like me) left with a greater sense of connection, understanding and respect for our city’s urban outdoors.
And throughout my time at The Wild, that’s exactly what I hope you have experienced — I’ve really enjoyed writing and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Thanks for all your messages and keep exploring our city’s incredible natural spaces — you never know what’s just around the riverbend. Happy hiking and see you on the trails!
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