Is it safe to hike, run and bike outside now?

The trails of Griffith Park
The trails of Griffith Park, seen here in mid-March, remained open Monday morning. But city officials stressed the importance of keeping six feet of distance from other people, and virtually all park facilities were closed.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Californians can still walk, hike and bike outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “safer at home” order, but many activities have been banned, including golf and team sports on public courts, parking at many beaches and hiking on some Santa Monica mountain trails.

Through the weekend and into Monday morning, local and state officials stressed that those outdoors need to take greater care in maintaining a social distance of at least six feet from others.

“This weekend we saw too many people packing beaches, trails and parks,” tweeted L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. “So we are closing sports and recreation at @LACityParks and closing parking at city beaches.”


As of 10:45 a.m. Monday, a Griffith Park ranger said that while facilities are closed, city park trails remained open at that hour, including the trails in Griffith Park.

The latest “Safer at Home” order from Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, issued March 21, prohibits all public and private group events and gatherings through April 19. It also says that individuals and families are not prohibited from “hiking, walking, biking or shopping at [e]ssential [b]usinesses,” so long as they keep their distance from others.

The order also notes that if local entities (like municipal governments) choose to impose stricter limits, the county order does not supersede them.

The City of Santa Monica on Sunday closed its beach parking lots, citing the risks posed by the many people who had gathered at the beach over the weekend. City official advised residents and visitors to “avoid the beach, beach bike path, and Palisades Park today and in the days to come to protect themselves and others.” (Santa Monica residents with parking permits will still be able to use them, officials noted.)

Also Sunday, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority announced that it was closing all of its parklands, trail and facilities -- close to 75,000 acres of parkland, including all parks owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

The authority’s busiest parks, now closed, include Wilacre Park in Studio City; Temescal Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades; Franklin Canyon Park off Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills; Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon, the Santa Clarita Valley; all the overlooks on Mulholland Drive; Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve at the west end of Victory Boulevard; and Escondido Canyon Park in Malibu.


“All of these parks were crazy yesterday,” said authority spokesperson Dash Stolarz. “This is a total heartbreaker for us. We would not do this if it were not necessary.”

Stolarz said rangers and other field personnel would on the scene to enforce the closures.

“No one wants to give anybody a ticket,” Stolarz said. But if need be, “they will.”

On Monday morning, the City of Laguna Beach closed trail access to local county wilderness parks . Monday night, city staffers were under orders to close city beaches “unless the County of Orange or the State of California does so before that time.”

Laguna Beach’s closures will include Main Beach, Heisler, and Treasure Island Parks, all beach-adjacent.

Los Angeles County has closed all indoor and outdoor playgrounds, along with indoor shopping centers and all swap meets and flea markets (though farmers markets and produce stand are still permitted).

On Thursday, Newsom’s order said: “Everyone in California is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job.”

But the governor also said: “We’re going to keep the grocery stores open... We’re going to make sure that you’re getting critical medical supplies. You can still take your kids outside, practicing common sense and social distancing. You can still walk your dog.”


Last Wednesday, California’s state parks system had closed all campgrounds. Yosemite National Park closed on Froiday and many of national parks have dramatically cut back access, closing parking areas and roads.

National parks are open to visitors but most services have been suspended

March 18, 2020