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4 Los Angeles-Area Hikes to Trek for Breathtaking Views
Wellness

4 Los Angeles-Area Hikes to Trek for Breathtaking Views

By Lizbeth Scordo

By the end of a trip to Los Angeles, you’ll most likely be testing your smartphone’s storage capacity, thanks to the endless picture-perfect photo opportunities in the area — after all, there’s no such thing as too many beach sunset snaps. But if you’re looking to combine your social media-worthy shots with some exercise, then you’ll want to head out into nature to experience one of LA’s many spectacular coastal hikes.

Whether you’re looking for a quad-burner that’ll have you winding your way to 360-degree views or a flat trek to a wild waterfall, here are four of our favorite trails for capturing that classic SoCal hiking moment, all accessible from the equally picturesque Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.

Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook

Pacific Palisades

Many will say Los Liones is a pretty crowded trail, especially on weekends, and it is (thanks in part to its proximity to Santa Monica). But the good news is that the further you go, the emptier it gets. Lots of casual hikers drop out well before making it to the peak, many stopping their trek at the bench-dotted clearing about a mile up.

Stay the course and complete the 3.5-mile hike to the Parker Mesa Overlook within Topanga State Park (powering through an intense final stretch that you’ll definitely feel the next day), and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Santa Monica Bay, the Palos Verdes peninsula, and even Downtown LA on a clear day. The overlook, with an elevation of 1,500 feet, is the perfect place to refuel and relax before heading down the same way you came up. By the end, you’ll have completed a serious 7-miler, gotten a killer workout in, and have the photo proof to boot. Well done.

Start at the trailhead on Los Liones Drive. No dogs allowed.

trails.lacounty.gov

Temescal Canyon Loop

Pacific Palisades

At just 2.6 miles, this trail is the perfect bite-sized option if you don’t want to dedicate all day to a hike. A good chunk of the trail is shaded, and you’ll get gorgeous views at the top thanks to the 900-foot elevation gain. Make sure to stop and snap a few shots at Skull Rock, a sandstone formation that bears a resemblance to — you guessed it — a skull, which you’ll pass on the way up. Bonus: If you’re looking for a heartier hike, there are plenty of offshoots to make it longer.

Start at Temescal Gateway Park. Dogs on leash.

mrca.ca.gov

Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak

Malibu

It’s a bit of a ride to get here as the peak is right on the border of Ventura County, but its location is part of the allure — you’ll get to follow the stunning shoreline up the Pacific Coast Highway to reach the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains at over 3,100 feet.

There are multiple ways to tackle it, but a favorite is the Mishe Mokwa Trail, a 6-mile moderate loop that begins at 2,000 feet and connects with Backbone trail, allowing you to slowly make your way to the top as you pass spiky yuccas, colorful wildflowers, and plenty of slithering lizards. At the peak, the surrounding mountains, jagged cliffs, and dramatic views will make it hard to turn around and head back to the trailhead (so feel free to stick around for a bit).

Start at the Sandstone Peak trailhead and pick up the Mishe Mokwa trail connector. Dogs allowed on leash.

nps.gov

Escondido Falls Trail

Many will say Los Liones is a pretty crowded trail, especially on weekends, and it is (thanks in part to its proximity to Santa Monica). But the good news is that the further you go, the emptier it gets. Lots of casual hikers drop out well before making it to the peak, many stopping their trek at the bench-dotted clearing about a mile up.

Stay the course and complete the 3.5-mile hike to the Parker Mesa Overlook within Topanga State Park (powering through an intense final stretch that you’ll definitely feel the next day), and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Santa Monica Bay, the Palos Verdes peninsula, and even Downtown LA on a clear day. The overlook, with an elevation of 1,500 feet, is the perfect place to refuel and relax before heading down the same way you came up. By the end, you’ll have completed a serious 7-miler, gotten a killer workout in, and have the photo proof to boot. Well done.

Start at the corner of Winding Road and the Pacific Coast Highway. Dogs allowed on leash.

mrca.ca.gov

Featured Image: Courtesy of Emily Calhoun, @itscalhountoyou

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