A small but extremely popular state park in the heart of Hollywood, Runyon Canyon is one of the most accessible spots within the mountains of Los Angeles. The best hiking loop here stretches out for just over three miles, and while this is not a route to take if you are seeking peace and solitude, it will reward you with spectacular views out across the city.
The Hero Trail
When you enter Runyon Canyon from the entrance at Vista Park, you will be faced with two different paths, one that is paved, and then a dirt trail that veers off to the left and then uphill. The dirt trail, otherwise known as the Hero Trail, is the one you want to take, because while this may be quite steep in certain sections, likely requiring the use of your hands for balance, there are fewer crowds here, as well as great views over the park. While the view during the summer might be too hazy to impress, the winter months allow you to see as far as the Pacific Ocean. Keep following the trail until you hit the paved Runyon Canyon road once again, continuing on until you see a dirt track splitting off from the main road on the left.
The Star Trail
This second dirt track that you will be taking is known as the Star Trail, and travels down Runyon Canyon’s eastern ridge. While there are multiple steep sections here, these have been renovated to include steps, making this trail more accessible to the wider public. If you do happen to come across an area of descent that seems slightly too challenging, many choose to simply sit and slide down, as long as you do not mind getting some dirt on your clothes. There are also some great views to found all along the Star Trail, as well as several benches from which you can enjoy them. Towards the end of the trail, you will also come across the old Outpost Sign, which used to be famous for being one of the largest neon signs in the world, before its lights had to be turned off during the second World War.
The Peace Spiral
On your way back down the canyon, you will notice a single track trail that seems to head back up to the canyon. Take this trail for 300 yards or so, and you will be greeted with the Peace Spiral. While nobody is quite certain of who actually created this rock mandala, many choose to spend some time here walking in meditation, and this is the perfect way to round off your hike.
The beauty of hiking at Runyon Canyon is that there are several different routes to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate, meaning that you can vary your hike depending on your mood and energy levels. The main issue that people have with visiting Runyon Canyon is with the parking, but if you time your visit correctly, such as the early evening on a weekday rather than a weekend afternoon, this will not be too much of a problem, and you will also be rewarded with some of the best sunset views in the city.