My family made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape and eat healthier. So on the first day of the year, we went on a hike together. It was the first time we’d gone hiking in the city even though my sister and I have lived in L.A. since we were born. I had never thought of hiking, especially in a city like Los Angeles. The only nature I see is the small hill near my house. I thought you had to drive an hour away from the city to get the real experience. I had also never thought hiking was fun. But I was totally wrong.
We hiked in Runyon Canyon, which is near the Hollywood Hills. I had heard of Runyon Canyon and how amazing the views were but had never been there. The rumors about the views are true—they took my breath away. Standing on top of the mountain looking at the entire city and beyond, and feeling so accomplished with myself for making it all that way, was one of the best feelings I’ve had. Since that hike, my friends and I go at least every other weekend to Runyon. It’s fun and really good exercise.
Recently, we went hiking when it was really hot, almost 90 degrees. My friend Lily and I were already planning to go hiking but I invited my friends Taylor and Maddy to come along too because they had never been hiking before. Taylor, Lily and Maddy got dropped off at my house and we put on tons of SPF 50 sunscreen and filled up two water bottles per person with ice and water, which is really important. It’s easy to get dehydrated or sunburned while you hike. We wore sneakers, T-shirts and shorts. We left my house in Laurel Canyon with my mom driving because she decided to tag along and walk my dog, and we were there in about five minutes. As we all got out of the car, Maddy exclaimed to Taylor how hot it was and how much she was not looking forward to this. I felt bad for them, but I lightened the mood by cracking a joke about how Maddy never exercises.
We had to park three blocks from the Fuller Avenue entrance because there’s only street parking, plus it was harder to find a spot because there were a lot of people that day. You can also take the 217 bus that runs along Hollywood Boulevard to get there (you get off at Fuller Avenue). To get to the entrance we had to walk up a long hill and boy, was it hot. Then there’s another 15-minute walk to get to the beginning of the hike, so by the time we reached the trail we were already sweating like crazy. Luckily, there’s already a beautiful view of Los Angeles where you can see all the way downtown, so we took some pictures and had a water break.
Then we started the hardest part of the hike, which is a series of steps carved into the mountain that takes about 10 minutes. Once you reach the next flat part everyone stops, takes pictures and drinks water. We found a bench to sit on where we could see from downtown to the beach. Even though I’ve seen the view dozens of times, every time I think about how beautiful it is and how far out you can see.
But that isn’t even the best view. We continued on even though Maddy and Taylor were trying to stop in every shaded place possible. During the middle of the hike, we got so jealous of the men hiking without their shirts on that we took our shirts off so we were just in our sports bras.
We eventually reached a fork in the road. The short way is a leisurely walk that takes about 45 minutes to get to the top and then back to the start of the trail. It’s mostly shaded, and would have let us cool down but still get exercise. But I coaxed Maddy and Taylor into going the long way because it’s more fun.
We scrambled up the hillside
We walked up winding paths that led us to a steep part, where you have to use your hands to get to the top. It was scary at first because it was really high up, but it got fun, especially when we were going down the other side and Taylor fell on her butt and slid for a few seconds down the hill. We made fun of her for the rest of the hike by making comments about her “natural athletic abilities.”
After walking up another hill, we reached the top. You can see everything—from Mount Baldy to the east to Long Beach to the south. It’s amazing. It hits me every time how beautiful nature is. It makes me think about what people were doing here 50 or 100 years ago, and it makes me sad to think that there are so few great hiking places left. It changes your perspective of the city and makes you appreciate it more. We all loved the view and we stayed there for about 15 minutes admiring it and resting. Taylor and Maddy admitted that they were glad they had come on the hike and that they wanted to do it again.
To get back, we walked for about 10 minutes down a different dirt path that leads to the entrance. Overall, the hike took about an hour. It’s so fun to hike with my friends, because they motivate me and keep my mind off the hard part of the hike.
You can bring your dog and there are some places where you’re allowed to let your dog off its leash.
Anyone can hike Runyon Canyon. It’s a great hike to do to get in shape and there are easier trails that aren’t too hard if you’re new to hiking. It’s really cool how in the middle of the city you can still connect with nature and do something outdoors. Give Runyon a chance. You won’t regret it!