“Nobody walks in LA,” or so claims the new wave, 80s band Missing Persons. They were right; we hike. If you Google “Best hikes in LA” you’ll get copious results, from private and secluded, to the stargazing kind (and no, not stars in the sky — this is LA, after all). But also ubiquitous to the City of Angels is the Yoga Enthusiast, many of whom like a little vinyasa flow before, during or after a hike. Thus, our picks for the 5 Best Hikes in LA for the Yogi:
1. Runyon Canyon, Hollywood Hills
Hands down, the trail on which you’re most likely to spot Jared Leto running with his shirt off is Runyon Canyon, a heavily populated, dog-friendly park with dirt trails, paved roads, and stairs. And if you forget to bring water or snacks, there’s an unmanned stand at the Fuller entrance with Crystal Geyser on ice, bananas, and granola bars, with an insert slot for $1/each, based on the “honor system.” Enjoy views from downtown to Century City, and especially the Hollywood Hills mansions we all covet.
Why it’s great for yogis: Runyon Canyon offers daily donation yoga classes, located on the lawn at the Fuller entrance. Taught by an outstanding team of instructors, you can stretch out your limbs several times a day. Classes run one hour and no dogs are allowed on the lawn. The instructors are the real deal, so don’t skim on the donations.
2. Temescal Canyon, Pacific Palisades
Quite the opposite of Runyon in many ways, Temescal Canyon creates the sensation that it’s just you and the wilderness. There are no dogs allowed on this one, so leave your Chihuahua or Dire wolf at home. You’ll definitely feel as though you’re not in LA anymore. Since you will be shaded and secluded for much of the hike, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and snacks or lunch. This woodsy hike boasts a small waterfall, caves, and Skull Rock, a head-shaped sandstone perfect for enjoying glorious Pacific Ocean views. As it’s a much more time consuming trek, plan to spend at least 3-4 hours to enjoy everything Temescal has to offer.
Why it’s great for yogis: At the start (or end) of the trail stands fresh green grass, shaded with trees and just private enough to lay out some mats and stretch it out. While not an official yoga class like Runyon, seasoned yogis and the occasional participant can enjoy a self-practice, even if it’s just a 10-minute meditation or a few Sun Salutations.
3. Griffith Park, Los Feliz
Everyone needs to try this hike at least once, if only for a great view of the iconic Hollywood sign. With entrances in Los Feliz and Burbank, you’ll find beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails to suit your mood and level. Your four-legged friends can join you, but please observe their leash-only policy. You may see a line of horseback riders, as Sunset Ranch operates from nearby Beachwood. And remember, don’t break into the Hollywood sign unless you know a good bail bondsman in the area.
Why it’s great for yogis: Two words: Hiking Yoga. Started in 2009 by a former tour guide, this group fitness experience has spread to cities all over the country. Here in LA, Hiking Yoga meets every weekend near the tall statue in front of the Observatory. Your leader will guide you through beginner-friendly hiking trails, with scenic stops along the way for some all-level poses. This 90-minute trek-and-stretch will fly by due to the fun you’re having. Regular price is $20, but keep your eyes open for Groupon or similar deals.
4. Escondido Falls, Malibu
As the name suggests, you’ll find not one, not two, but three glorious waterfalls on this trail. The walk to the first waterfall delivers immediate sparkling ocean views along a mansion-filled street. A relative easy start will take you to a swing, where many enjoy snapping selfies. It’s here that you’ll discover the first waterfall, cascading down along lush greens. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can grab the ropes and do some rock climbing to the second, more majestic, tiered waterfall, where you can relax and have lunch. You’ve made it this far, so keep climbing to reach waterfall number 3—you’ll feel like the King (or Queen) of the World.
Why it’s great for yogis: Two miles north on Heathercliff Road sits Michelle Kronenberg’s 5-star yoga studio. If you’re hiking on a Monday, enjoy a two-hour restorative yoga class afterwards, as it’s the most relaxing, stress-relieving type of yoga practice, perfect following a long hike. Let Michelle, a yoga instructor for 16 years, melt away your tension. Restorative yoga benefits beginners and regulars alike, and will feel well earned after exerting muscles you didn’t know you had.
5. Boney Mountain Peak, Newbury Park
Talk about a misnomer. With the gargantuan, steep mountains, this day-long hike is anything but bony. At 9.5 miles and an elevation of 2800 feet, Boney Mountain Peak holds the title for the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. After starting out in a gorgeous meadow, be prepared to climb the final stretch on hands and knees while fighting the loose rock along the way. You might want to try other hikes before attempting this one—it’s not for beginners. When you reach the top, you’ll enjoy some jaw-dropping, 360-degree views.
Why it’s great for yogis: Because you’ll need it after the day you’ve had. If you can still feel your legs after this one, plop down in the meadow and stretch. And breathe. Or just let out a big “OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM……..”