Want to be part of your pup’s exercise regime while taking in the beautiful nature and weather of Southern California? We came up with ten of our favorite dog-friendly hikes in LA for you and your furry companion.
If you want your dog to hike but can’t make it out to the trail, check out Fitdog’s Canyon Hikes!
Prepare for your hike
If you’re hitting the trail with your dog, you’ll want to bring a few provisions.
- A travel water bowl
- Poop bags
- Musher’s Wax (or doggie footwear) to protect your pup’s paws from heat-induced blisters.
- A baggie of treats or even kibble—dogs need snacks, too.
10 dog-friendly hikes for your next adventure
Stunning views of the Hollywood Sign and L.A. Basin are just one reason why Runyon Canyon is a huge hit with the Los Angeles community. This 162-acre park is very dog-friendly and even has a 90-acre dog park where your dog can roam off-leash and play with other pups. There’s an abundance of hiking trails, so you can find one that best fits the physical level of you and your dog.
This 3-mile loop is very dog-friendly and is fairly moderate. Located near Pacific Palisades, you will be rewarded with a beautiful ocean view on clear days. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, different parts of the trail offer inclines that will definitely get your heart rate going. However, make sure you go in the morning on warmer days because there is little to no shade.
The one-mile Solstice trail is easy and shaded and leads to the remains of what is believed to be the oldest existing stone building in Malibu. Above all, the biggest attraction is the waterfall that can be found next to the ruins. If your dog loves the water, they can cool off in the flowing creek in the canyon.
Santa Monica Beach and South Bay Bike Path
The beach path is quintessential Southern California. This path will take you from Santa Monica through the oddities of Venice Beach all the way to Marina Del Rey. You can even start up on the Santa Monica bluff and take it all the way down to the beach. Or, you can snag a parking spot near the beach, and chances are you’ll run into this path wherever you are around the LA beaches!
The only caveat: at the start of the path in Santa Monica, you will be sharing the road with crowds of bikers, rollerbladers, walkers, and runners, so it’s important to have your dog securely by your side. The pedestrian path splits off from the bike path eventually, making the trek well worth the fresh ocean air and unbeatable beach views!
One of the largest urban parks in North America with a 53-mile network of trails, Griffith Park has no shortage of options. You can either take a 5-mile hike up to the Hollywood sign using the Hollyridge trail or relax at The Trails Cafe, which offers dog treats and delicious human food! If you’re a movie buff, Bronson Canyon is home to the Batcave — a 50-foot long tunnel used in the 1960s Batman series. No matter which trail you choose to follow, it will be a great time for you and your pup!
Sandstone Peak / Circle X Ranch
Considered one of the most challenging hikes in Los Angeles, this is not for the faint of heart. However, if your dog is super active and needs a lot of exercise, this six-mile trail is the perfect adventure. With an elevation of 3,114 feet, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the city, the Channel Islands, the Pacific Ocean and even the San Gabriel Mountains on a clear day.
This four-mile round trip hike offers spectacular views of Escondido Falls, the largest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains. Standing at 150-feet, this is a destination you don’t want to miss out on. However, the trail is located off PCH, so make sure you plan ahead to find the best parking spot.
Cahuenga Peak and The Wisdom Tree
If you’re looking to get a good view of the Hollywood Sign, but want to avoid tourists, then this is the hiking spot for you. However, with an elevation gain of over 1,300 feet and rugged terrain with narrow paths and steep drop-offs, this trail is not for beginners! During your 3.7-mile round trip hike, you can visit the Wisdom Tree. The pine is the lone survivor of the Hollywood Hills fire of 2007 and there’s even a box for passers-by to leave notes.
Franklin Canyon Park
Spanning 605 acres of land, Franklin Canyon Park has over five miles of hiking trails. One of its more popular hikes, Hastain Trail, is almost two-miles round trip and it leads to a 360 degree view of Los Angeles. If you’re a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Franklin Lake, which is the fishing hole featured in the opening credits of the show.
Kenneth Hahn Park
If you’re not an experienced hiker, but still want to get stunning views of Los Angeles, Kenneth Hahn is the perfect spot. This 2.5-mile hike offer amazing views of downtown L.A. with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. In addition, the state recreation area at the park is a great family destination and offers fun activities such as playgrounds, a fishing lake, sand volleyball and much more.
In conclusion, it’s safe to say that Los Angeles offers an abundance of dog-friendly hiking trails no matter how experienced you are. Whether it’s a low-key 2-mile hike or a 5-mile trail with incline, it is always a good idea to just get outside and enjoy nature with your pup. They will definitely thank you with lots of kisses and tired snuggles.
This article has been updated from its original content. Originally published 8/5/2013. Updated 5/12/2020.
This article was originally featured by Los Angeles Magazine, the definitive resource for Angelenos, on August 1, 2014. Twitter: @mariellewakim @lamag
For more ideas on dog-friendly hikes in LA, check out our feature on CBS Los Angeles!