In most cities around the world, we meet friends for a drink after work.
Here in Los Angeles, we meet for a hike.
Without a doubt, one of the most popular hiking spots in Los Angeles is Runyon Canyon.
Sweeping city views, choice of terrain, the occasional celebrity sighting and convenient location are but a few reasons that keep folks coming back here.
And feel free to bring your dog as no leashes are required.
Now this quintessential LA outdoor experience will be closed from April through July so that a 100 year-old water system can be replace.
Of course, like most popular spots in LA, Runyon Canyon can be plagued with traffic and shortage of parking.
Sandi felt the same way. Until, one day…
I roll my eyes every time someone in LA hears that I’m a hiker and responds with, “Oh, so you do the Runyon thing?”
It’s such a common question that I’ve pored over my map of LA to find hikes that aren’t in Runyon Canyon. Just to be contrary. I guess.
The first time I hiked Runyon (through its less popular upper portion), I was appalled at how crowded and eroded it was. I didn’t have much reason to go back. Except the fact that its lower portion remained unhiked kept nagging at me. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
I’d been looking for ways to squeeze hikes in after keeping regular office hours, so I could no longer ignore Runyon – perhaps the closest, fastest, and most accessible hike I could do before the sun went down.
Vehicular traffic up to the trailhead was a nightmare.
Foot traffic on the trail was a nightmare. I hiked past strollers. Bare-chested trailrunners huffed past me. Bosoms heaved at me. Dogs literally ran between my legs.
But as I climbed the loop trail (clockwise, the easy way) past ruins of old estates, up to a scenic overlook to glimpse the Hollywood Sign and bask in the late-day glow, overlooking the black-and-white city grid below, and back down the hard way past the abandoned tennis court, I understood Runyon’s charm, why it’s so damn popular.
I just wish I could’ve had a little time alone with it.
Runyon Canyon has two main entrances. One is at the top of the Canyon off Mulholland and Desmond Estates Road. There is very limited parking there. The more popular entrance is at the bottom at Fuller Avenue just north of Franklin Avenue.
From the Franklin Avenue entrance, you have a choice of two paths. The clockwise route is a gentler, steady climb to the top. The counterclockwise route is much more rugged and quite steep in places.
Either way, once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with of a view Hollywood below and on clear days, the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.