A lot of people visit Los Angeles for the many bright things it offers — Hollywood and all its grandeur, the beaches, beautiful people, museums, food, culture, Rose Bowl — but if you happen to get the chance to go there for a quick trip, don’t forget to take your hiking shoes with you as the city has so many lovely nature destinations to enjoy as well.
We went there for the holidays, and enjoyed the peace and tranquility of a few of its nature stops — Mt. Hollywood, Big Santa Anita Canyon for the Hermit and Sturtevant Falls, Eaton Canyon, Ballona Freshwater Marsh, and also, Lacy Park in San Marino.
For the greenphils out there, here’s our take on these nature destinations!
1. Mount Hollywood
People say that no trip to LA will ever be complete without checking out the “Hollywood” sign. While hiking to the sign is against the law, it is perfectly okay to hike to the top of Mount Hollywood. There’s a hiking trail (Charlie Turning Trailhead) that leads to the top. It’s not exactly where the ‘sign’ is (which you can see from the top too), but in my opinion, is also great.
The hike is a short and easy one (less than an hour) from the Griffith Observatory (Also amazing! Don’t miss their Planetarium show!). On our way down, we discovered that there are mini-trails less-traveled, particularly one where these agave plants (on the photo) were.
2. Big Santa Anita Canyon
Hiking at Big Santa Anita Canyon is love. There is just so much to see, it’s positively overwhelming! One great thing about Big Santa Anita Canyon is its history and the cabins (built around 1890-1920s) that you will see tenderly tucked into the woods are a reminder of it. We hiked to get to two of its waterfalls — Sturtevant and Hermit.
The trail to Sturtevant is cinematic. You would have to pass by some of the historic log cabins, including the famous Fiddler Crossing. Once you get to the waterfall, you will delight in its simplicity. It’s very tranquil in the area (we hiked on Christmas day) and you might consider it a great spot to relax.
The hike to Hermit Falls is a little more demanding (we headed there straight from Sturtevant). Some parts of the trail get narrow and there also are more rock piles to cross (which I love). It’s a hike a bit up the mountain so things could get a little steep. Enjoy the view as you hike to the Hermit Falls because once you get there, you might get a bit of a shock because of the many graffiti.
It’s just sad seeing nature like this. Hopefully, they would get some help removing these graffiti. Also, for people hiking, please be responsible and leave nothing but footprints.
3. Eaton Canyon
Follow the stream — this is all you really have to do to get to the waterfall. While the stream is mainly dry when we went there this December, there are still certain parts where people could get their shoes wet if they didn’t really want to do a few minor rock-hopping. Before heading to the trail, we stopped by the Nature Center where there’s a mini-exhibit on the life-forms that you could see in the Canyon. Anyway, the hike is very easy, the trail is generally flat til you get to the other side of the bridge where the rocks are. Still, nothing anyone can’t handle. The place was packed when we got there, which is not surprising because 1) it is a park; 2) it’s very close to Pasadena, thereby easy to reach; and, 3) the hike is pretty smooth.
4. Ballona Freshwater Marsh
Less of a hike, more of a stroll, we went to Ballona Freshwater Marsh to do some birding. The native plants support a diverse wildlife in the area which is well-protected by a fence. Apparently, this is a place popular among birders as different species come here to forage for fish and tiny insects. Expect less when you come here as the fence limits interaction with nature, which should also be understood as the marsh needs to be protected too, given it’s in the middle of a busy road.
5. Lacy Park in San Marino
Not only was it a holiday, but it was also raining when we went to Lacy Park so we almost had the entire 30 acres of it to ourselves. It’s a beautiful, well-landscaped park complete with running loops, picnic areas, and a playground. I would say that the rain made the park more of a place for pensive reflection, which was very fitting, because we went there to walk down memory lane, back when my husband used to play there, climb trees, and ride his bicycle, as a boy. Lacy Park is a wonderful place for families, so it seems, and our trip there, with my husband recalling many fun childhood stories as we walk on the trails, is a charming testament to it.
Remember, aside from the Hollywood glitz and glamour, there’s even more to Los Angeles, especially for the many greenphils — nature-lovers out there. So get your hiking shoes ready and enjoy nature-tripping in LA. Have fun!
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