As Angelenos, we know that our city is often misunderstood. Outsiders may think L.A. is all glitz and glam, but those of us who been here for years (and even decades) know that the beautiful urban sprawl that is Los Angeles offers more than meets the eye. A concrete jungle? Only if you don’t know where to look.
Griffith Park, for example, measures 4,000 acres, almost five times the size of New York’s Central Park, and its far more wild and rugged. Regional parks abound, too, from Ernest E. Debs Regional Park and Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area to the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a willing kiddo to join you on the trail. Here are seven hikes and walks we love, all classified as easy enough for an energetic child. Here’s to setting aside a weekend morning and opting outside.
Fern Dell Nature Path, Griffith Park
This walking path is especially great for littles, as it borders a teeny stream part of the way where walkers can spot crawdads, red-earred turtles and a few sleepy Koi fish. Park as close to the intersection of Fern Dell Drive and Los Feliz Boulevard as you can, then hop on the trail just east of the road and head north. You’ll cross bridges, duck under low tunnels, and there’s a great playground and Trails Cafe nearby, too. Walk further north to join tougher paths that head to Griffith Observatory.
Palisades Park, Santa Monica
The path that cuts through Palisades Park is more of a walk than a hike, but that makes it especially great for stroller pushing. Park where San Vicente Boulevard meets Ocean Avenue, then walk south toward the boardwalk and back again for a chill morning with sea views and the wind in your hair. If you need an energy boost, there’s plenty of coffee shops to walk to nearby.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Culver City
The grueling staircase from road to hilltop is a wildly popular workout spot here, but I much prefer the trail that switchbacks all the way up the mountain, and kids can tackle this path, too. Snag a parking spot on Jefferson Boulevard and meander the dirt trail to the hilltop, wildflower and bunny-spotting as you go. There’s a restroom at the top as well, and the overlook is a fun place to take a water or snack break and enjoy views of downtown L.A.
Franklin Canyon Park, Los Angeles
My toddler loves to watch ducks paddle about, and the duck pond below Mulholland Drive in Franklin Canyon Park (known as Heavenly Pond) is great for small children. You can walk its whole perimeter with ease. Plenty of other trails can be added if you want to extend your excursion.
Point Dume Natural Preserve, Malibu
Malibu’s Point Dume Natural Preserve is home to an easy 1.4-mile out-and-back trail with stunning views of the Pacific, and it’s especially spectacular at sunset. Note that parking is limited (as is so often true along the coast), so be prepared to park a few blocks away, then walk to the trailhead. Malibu Country Mart, and Malibu Yogurt & Ice Cream, are about a 15-minute drive south, offering post-hike snack options.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, Baldwin Hills
Kenneth Hahn is much larger than you’d guess as you drive past the main the entry on La Cienega Boulevard, and within its 400 acres are numerous trails and paths for families, not to mention sprawling grassy spaces for picnics, multiple playgrounds and man-made waterways to play around. Explore the park to get your steps in, or try the 2.8-mile, out-and-back Stocker Corridor Trail. There is a vehicle entrance fee on weekends and holidays, and ample parking inside park bounds. Pro tip: You can park at Stocker and Overhill, cross the street and go up the hill here for great city views, and to appreciate the Martin Luther King Jr. monument, dedicated in 2018. Or, hike across the bridge that leads to Stoneview Nature Center, which often has family and kid programming.
Eaton Canyon Park, Pasadena
We love a hike with an “end goal,” and Eaton Canyon Trail delivers with a waterfall that’s especially pretty after the rains we’ve had this year. Park at Eaton Canyon Nature Center, walk about two miles to the waterfall, enjoying canyon greenery and the stream alongside you, then turn back. This trail takes nearly two hours on average, so it’s perhaps best for older children who can keep up the pace.