It’s no secret that I love the outdoors! Most of that has come from my love of hiking and obsession to climb as many peaks as possible. Growing up in the city of LA, I used to hike Griffith Park as a child and eat sandwiches at Dante’s Point. As I grew up, I became more of a city girl and found myself more at the mall than in nature. That all changed when I went to college at UC Santa Cruz. Being surrounded by the redwood trees and always being at the cliffs by the coast, I rediscovered my love for nature. After graduating, I moved back to LA and fell into the office grind and didn’t realize this vast hiking paradise that was the backdrop of my drive on the 2 and the 10 Freeway. I just started hiking “seriously” less than a year ago and I find myself loving it more every time I go. I just completed the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike that’s 26 miles long and took 16 hours to complete! In just a few short weeks, I will be climbing Mt. Whitney for the first time and the Grand Teton in Wyoming. My dream is to complete the Seven Summits, the seven tallest peaks in each continent, with the tallest being Mt. Everest.
In the meantime, I hope to inspire others to hike and get outdoors, so here’s my list of top intermediate LA hikes that will get any LA Girl to love the outdoors!
Sandstone Peak via Mishe Mokwa Trail
I really love this trail because it provides such great scenery. You start off at the trailhead off Yerba Buena Road and you will have the option to take the shorter trail up Sandstone Peak that’s about 3 miles or take the Mishe Mokwa Trail thats just over 6 miles. If you’re looking for an intermediate hike, you’ll want to take the Mishe Mokwa Trail. Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains at 3,111 ft. You’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the ocean and surrounding mountains. This would be a great sunset hike!
Mt. Hollywood to Hollywood Sign to Wisdom Tree Loop
I would always start this hike from the Greek Theater and hike up to the Griffith Park Observatory and to Mt. Hollywood. If you’re fine, with just doing that this one is listed in my list of Top Easy Hikes. If you’re looking for something more intermediate, this one’s for you! Instead of going back down from Mt. Hollywood, if you take the back way on the North side, you can cross over to the Bronson Canyon Trail to get to the Hollywood Sign. From there, you can hop on to another trail just past the Hollywood Sign Fence to get to the Wisdom Tree. You can make your way back the same way or loop around towards the Observatory. This hike totals about 10 miles and is a great add-on if you’re already used to doing the Mt. Hollywood trail.
The Devil’s Chair
This is one of those hikes that make you believe you’re not even in LA anymore and is about 7.5 miles if you don’t count any additional detours in the Punchbowl. I drove out here with some friends via the 5 to the 14N. Once you exit the freeway, you already feel as if you’ve been transported to another place even another dimension. You see the North side of the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance but right in front of you is a desert-like atmosphere with huge jagged rocks that you just want to play on called Devil’s Punchbowl, and that’s just what we did! Before starting the actual hike, we climbed onto some rocks and went through some tiny waterfalls. Once we got onto the main trail, we saw amazing views of Holcomb Canyon and Devil’s Punchbowl. My friend even spotted a mountain goat and he swore that it looked at him as he was taking a picture. You take the trail all the way to The Devil’s Chair and it’s fenced in because it’s very narrow and the drop-off is super steep. You make your way down back to the parking lot and there are some gorgeous Manzanitas and pretty meadows on your left. You will have so much fun at this hike!
When I hiked this 8-miler, I was by myself since my group wanted to sleep in that Sunday morning. This was my first experience with hiking in the snow. I drove all the way to Vincent Gap via the 15 to the 138 to get to the trailhead as the Angeles Crest Highway is closed from the other side. I had to pick up an Adventure Pass as you need them in your car while you’re parked here. (Awesome Tip: If you buy 2 passes, you can get the 2nd one at half off, so you can split it with a friend or give it as a gift!) Even as you just get started, there are gorgeous views of nearby mountains, including Mount San Antonio aka Mt. Baldy. When you’re almost at the 4-mile mark, you’ll find a ridge with amazing views and a beautiful grove of pine trees. You know you’re getting close to the summit when you see the “Wally” Waldron Tree that is said to be more than 1500 years old. I took a break here on Wally and snacked on some granola bars, but I saw some people by the summit so I figured I better hurry so I can ask them to take a picture of me. Mount Baden-Powell’s summit is at 9, 406 ft and is one of my favorite hikes in the San Gabriels.
This hike is a really good one for those of you who are looking to start getting into the double digits. The trailhead is located in Altadena just off Lake Avenue. This hike is 10.4 miles, but can also be done in under 6 if you hike to the ruins and turn back from there. Yes, there are ruins! You’ll encounter some remnants of the Mount Lowe Railroad including some tracks and gears. You’ll also see ruins from the Echo Mountain Resort. After exploring and taking some selfies, you’ll get on the Castle Canyon Trail to get to Inspiration Point. Here you’ll find a bunch of telescopes to look through to see various LA landmarks. You can take the same way back or hop on to the Sam Merrill trail instead. This one is a great training hike during the week especially for those who are working up to the Six Pack of Peaks.
There are so many great intermediate LA hikes that are not listed here, these are just the ones that I’ve done and chosen to share with you. Another way to discover hikes is to join some of the local hiking groups. I am a member of several of them including the Outdoor Women’s Alliance of Southern California and Adventures with Luke. These groups put together all sorts of hikes of various skill levels throughout the week. You can also find more hiking groups through Meetup.
I’ve also joined the 52 Hike Challenge which inspires you to commit to doing 52 hikes in 52 weeks/1 year. Their website lists several pop-up hikes hosted by different groups that have joined the 52 Hike Challenge.
And if you’re looking for more great resources for intermediate LA hikes, here’s a list of websites to visit:
Hope to see you on the trails!