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Running Trails in the LA Area

Do you think California trail running is only to be found in the northern part of the state? Do you think the only off-road running you will find in Los Angeles is the beach? Believe it or not, LA is one of the best big city trail running spots anywhere. This article describes some of the many trails in the greater LA area.

There are so many good trail running spots in LA it's hard to know where to begin. No matter how many I discuss, I'm sure I will leave out a lot of them. If you know of LA trails that I missed, use the email link at the end of this article to tell me about it.

Let's start in the northern part of the county and work south and east. There is a ridge of mountains above Malibu that provides some of the best hill running and trail running anywhere. A lot of runners know about them, but many don't. You can get access to them from many different places, all the way from Malibu and northern Santa Monica to Reseda. However you get there, the trails are steep and challenging. They go straight up There are some places to gain access to the upper ridges that offer some rolling hills type running (instead of straight up). For example, if you gain access from Reseda there is a small parking lot up on top and you can actually go DOWN for a while (after a bit of initial uphill or sidehill). There are too many trails up here to describe them all. But Mulholland Drive (the closed dirt part) provides some great, smooth running places, with lots of connecting trails. Great views up there too! On a clear day you can see all the way to Catalina Island.

Closer to the heart of the city are the trails of Griffith Park. There are quiet roads to run on or nice, well-maintained trails all over the place in this big park. You can run right from the observatory parking lot. It starts out upwards for a few minutes and then heads downhill for a good distance. You can also access the trails from a number of places along the east side of the park. These all go uphill at the beginning and are very steep in places. There is a flatter trail along the 5 freeway that borders the park on the east. You can also access trails from the north end of the park, near the railroad display area. Let me know by email if you know of some secret trails in Griffith Park.

Heading south, there is another trail running area that few know about, the horse trails of Rolling Hills. These trails have been there since the city was laid out. They wander through the hills and valleys. And some of them are open to runners. Drive along Palos Verde drive and you will see them on both sides. Watch where the runners go. If you live near there, join a running club. They know all about them.

If you are willing to drive a little (and who in LA doesn't know how to drive a little), there are many other trails to explore. If you head out to the east there are many more. There are trails in the Hollywood hills and there are trails around Dodger stadium. Look around. Get out your magnifying glass and look at the maps. And finally, there are a variety of trails along the coast. From Malibu to San Pedro to Huntington Beach, there is a lot of open land along the coast. How do you find them? Ask around. Look at the maps. They are there. And if you commonly run in any of those coastal open areas, let me know about them. I update this article all the time.

By the TrailRunningUSA staff
Copyright 2000 by

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