by Yvonne Condes
When most people think about Los Angeles they think of Hollywood or the beach. But the mountain ranges are what’s most beautiful to me. There are so many great places to go hiking in LA with or without kids. Here are my Top 5 favorite hikes for families.
EDITOR’S NOTE 11/20/2018: THE WOOLSEY FIRE BURNED 88 PERCENT OF THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS INCLUDING MALIBU CREEK AND SOLSTICE CANYON. IT’S UNCLEAR WHEN SOME TRAILS WILL REOPEN. CHECK WEBSITES FOR DETAILS.
Temescal Canyon Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades is a great hike for big and little kids. It’s easy to drive to as it’s just off of Sunset Blvd near Pacific Coast Highway and there’s plenty of parking. The park has wide, well-maintained trails that are perfect for walking, jogging with or without strollers, and hiking. There are bathrooms, a camp store, and a nice grassy area for picnics. It can get crowded on the weekend, but the farther you go on the trail, the less people you’ll see.
This is a fun and beautiful hike that the kids will love. There’s so much to see including the remains of the Matthew Keller stone cottage built in 1865 and the house that famed architect Paul Williams built in 1952. Both were destroyed in the 1993 Corral fire that also destroyed a test site for satellite equipment used in space missions. There are also streams, small waterfalls (depending on what time of year you visit), and rocks to climb. Families with older kids can try Upper Solstice Canyon. The view is worth the hike.
Malibu Creek State Park is where we always take visiting relatives. The hiking here is great and there’s so much to do. There are mountain bike trails, rock climbing, a swimming hole, and even the remnants of the old M*A*S*H* television show set. 20th Century Fox owned a movie ranch there and Viva Zapata!, Love Me Tender, and Planet of the Apes were filmed at the park. The park is 4,000 acres with a mix of easy to difficult trails.
Switzer Falls is on the Altadena side of the Angeles National Forest, which is 700,000 acres and spans from Santa Clarita to Fontana. The Switzer Falls hike is not a difficult hike, but there’s still a lot to see. You can start or end the hike with lunch at the picnic tables and then down the the trail to see Switzer Falls. Look carefully and you might see the ruins of a lodge near the falls. The hike is shady to begin and sunny on the way back.
Even if you’re not big hikers, Will Rogers State Park with its big, grassy fields, stables, and historic ranch house is a fun place to visit. Movie star Will Rogers and his family lived on the ranch until Rogers’ widow left the 31-room house and all the land including the stables to the state in 1944. You can take a tour of the house, let the kids run around for a while or take a 2 mile hike on the Will Rogers Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you like polo, from May to September the public is invited to watch polo matches in LA’s last remaining polo field.