Around these parts we’re of the mentality that the family that hikes together, stays healthy together. So, each and every Christmas morning, we Mollenkamps meet at the trailhead to one of our favorite hikes in Los Angeles and get moving.
Over the years, the hike has grown from just my mom and my siblings to having my infant nieces and nephews tag along in backpacks and now having them hike alongside us. Heck, it’s such a tradition that even the Christmas I spent away from home on Oahu, I made sure my friends there still helped me make it happen.
Yes, sometimes we’re on the brink of canceling the hike, but inevitably one of us protests until we all motivate. Because the reality is that more than any carol, cookie, or Christmas card, hiking makes us feel awesome. We claim we do it so we work to earn our holiday meal, but deep down we know we do it to keep up traditions. And we’ve got quite a few traditions during the holidays from Christmas cookie baking with my Aunt to Secret Santa that all 30+ of us participate in. But the hike keeps happening because it helps us spread cheer throughout the holiday season in a way that doesn’t require gifts or anything material.
This year we headed to Tree People, which is a hidden gem tucked into Coldwater Canyon. Here are a few photos from this year’s hike and some of my suggestions of my favorite hikes in Los Angeles:
THE 8 BEST HIKES IN LOS ANGELES
If you find yourself in Hollywood or anywhere near my neck of the woods, here are a few easy (i.e. no hiking boots or crazy trekking poles needed) hikes in Los Angeles that are work checking out:
Tree People just does hiking right! There a non-profit that has been around for 30 years and their goal is to promote sustainable forestry in urban centers. They accomplish that by having “livable” forests like this park that I use for hiking and picnics on a regular basis. This time of year you can even donate and dedicate a tree to someone, which if you ask me is the type of gift I’d love to give or get.
Less a hike and more a walking path, this is likely the most off-the-beaten path, locals-only Los Angeles hike on the list. It's hidden in the Hollywood HIlls so can take a minute to find but is well worth it. And, if you head to the Mullholland Dam, you can get a view across the reservoir of the Hollywood Sign.
Somehow, some time Runyon ended up in the tabloids and on a ton of celebs Insta feeds, so it tends to get crowded on the weekends. The main Runyon Canyon hike path takes you up 800 feet in elevation over 3.25-miles but you can take the ridges on either side of the park for waaaaay steeper hikes (ie not for those with fear of heights) but with really great views.
Yes, there's a lake (okay, reservoir) in the middle of Beverly Hills and I love to hike around it. Franklin Canyon is really in a huge space (aka 605 acres), but is in a canyon so you don't get views unless you head up high. That said it's pretty quiet and a pretty easy hike.
Possibly my favorite view of Los Angeles and the coast, this hike can be as long or short and difficult or easy as you like. Go here on a clear day and you really feel like you can see forever!
If you're looking for a place to hike, picnic, and have a view on the west side of Los Angeles, this this it!
Okay, truth is that during a drought year, there isn't much of a waterfall to see here. But, if you're already doing a day trip to Malibu, this is the hike to do!
Look, Griffith Park is enormous, so I could write a whole story just about which trails to take there. The easiest walks of all would be to just wander one of the shaded sidewalks but I'd recommnd instead to head up the dirt hiking trails and either visit Griffith Observatory or take the longer route and get up close and personal with the Hollywood sign. But, no matter what you do, make sure to end it with a slice of pie from The Trails Cafe!
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