It is nearly impossible to narrow down all the great hikes to 10. But these hikes are children friendly, and absolute musts. From the desert to the top of the city to the ocean, you will not be disappointed.
Walking sticks (kids love these and you can find them at the hiking site)
Tons of water
Most of these hikes allow dogs, so feel free. Also beware stepping in dog and horse droppings. Onward:
Griffith Park Los Angeles
The Central Park of Los Angeles, in addition to the spectacular Observatory, train town and playgrounds, the park offers some of the best hikes in the city.
Charlie Turner Trail. Park at the observatory and begin climb at Mt. Hollywood. When it is clear, the views are 360 from the San Bernardino Mountains to the ocean. It’s a 3-mile round trip, relatively flat, low elevation at 1000 ft. Take lots of water, beware of horse poop and best to go early to avoid crowds and to beat the heat.
Then of course you can enjoy lunch at Wolfgang Pucks Café at the End of the Universe, inside the Observatory.
Easier hikes include the Ferndell Gardens and the Fern Canyon Trail, near the Merry-go-Round parking lot.
Franklin Canyon Park Los Angeles
There are quite a few trails to pick from ranging easy to strenuous. The Hastain Trail is a favorite, 2 miles, but once at the top, great views of the ocean. One of the reasons this remains so popular is because there is a duck pond, a reservoir with fish, and a lake that often has frogs on Lilli pads, known as the Heavenly pond, surrounded by Sycamores and ferns. Kids love the nature, and there is a sense you have left Los Angeles entirely despite being just above Beverly Hills.
Temescal Gateway Park Pacific Palisades
Nestled in the Palisades, there are four trails to choose from, some with waterfalls, some with creeks, all with ocean views and picnic areas. This is a great place to hike and bring a small lunch. There is also rock climbing available for the more adventurous of the clan.
There are a lot of activities in Temescal, so when done hiking browse around the area.
Topanga Canyon State Park Santa Monica
14,000 acres of beautiful wild land with numerous trail heads, lush grounds, stunning views, streams, picnic areas, bathrooms, and an old fashioned feel of what it might have been like in Los Angeles many years ago, especially when visiting Trippet Ranch.
Crystal Cove State Park Palos Verdes
2400 acres of preserved native wilderness to explore, with over 17 trials in all, divided into upper and lower trails. The upper being mainly for campers, the lower trails for a day of adventure walking through the woodlands of Oak and Sycamore trees, creeks, and indigenous creatures. The land is protected, so you may run into historic cottages, and if you hike long enough, eventually the ocean, where they have a great lunch at the Beachcomber Cafe.
There is a great deal of history attached to Crystal Cove. Back in the 30’s, the beach cottages on this pristine land were hide-aways for movie stars during the silent era. Learning the history alone is worth the trip.
Joshua Tree/Barker Damn Loop Joshua Tree
Barker Damn is a short (1.5m) hike through wilderness and boulders. Rather easy hike given you will find people with strollers. But kids love it, as the rock formations are full of otherworld-like mystery. If you make it to the top, you will see the damn, the water, and a peaceful solitude like no other. For a special treat, adventure out in the afternoon as the sunset is magical and one you never see in the city.
Joshua Tree Solstice Hike Joshua Tree
Rabbits, roadrunners, woodpeckers, oh my! Not to mention the dazzling flora. This is a relatively easy climb, (1.7m) miles to the top, which boasts amazing views of the desert. A great hike for beginners as it introduces them to the steeper trails later on when hiking goes from amazing to glorious.
This hike is a great find for kids because of how it’s enclosed, providing shade and shadows from the rocky formations and dozens of lizards scooting around. Again, if you go in the afternoon, there is something quite mystical about the desert at night, and of course, stars in the sky most kids rarely see.
Solstice Canyon in Malibu Malibu
Not to be confused with Joshua tree, this treasure atop Malibu actually has treasures. Exotic plants, babbling pools, waterfalls, colorful singing birds, rabbits, and even an old hidden statue of the Virgin Mary which you will see just before crossing over into the ruins. For the more adventurous, scramble atop the waterfall for a view you will never forget.
Conejo Nature Walk Sherman Oaks
This nature walk/hike extents about a mile into the woods, and is all about having fun with the younger kids. Lots of shady, giant Oak trees to climb, streams to poke sticks in, butterflies to chase, lizards to catch and streams to throw rocks in. A wonderland for children.
Venice Canals Venice
This is not exactly a hike, so much as a great walk. Years ago this was a mile long canal with a few homes. Now it’s a canal with a lot of homes, but the setting is pastoral with ducks, boats, foliage, some pretty amazing houses, and bridges. The walk takes about an hour. Then you are a few blocks away from the infamous Venice Beach where you can stroll, eat, and people watch.
All of the hiking trails above have a list of rules and it’s best to follow them. They are typically posted at the entrance. It’s helpful to learn about the trails before entering to judge how the kids will do. All the information and signs will indicate mileage, conditions, etc.
This is a great website as it includes every hike in the United States, and all the information you need. It’s handy to have when you are traveling.
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