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January 26, 2017

Runyon Canyon Sunset Hike

We've done our fair share of hiking in the Greater Los Angeles area since we've moved here. With so many hiking trails within an hour from us, it's often difficult to choose which one to try. However, most would agree that one of the most popular hiking spots in LA is the Runyon Canyon trail. Considering that tidbit of info, it's crazy to think we've lived here for almost half a year and we just hiked it for the first time yesterday. We timed it so we could catch the sunset at the peak of the trail and we made it just in time.

The trail is located at Runyon Canyon Park, a 160-acre park found at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. The hiking trail that makes up a majority of the park is a 2.5 mile loop that peaks at 784 ft and offers amazing scenic views of the surrounding areas, which include Santa Monica Mountains, Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, South Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. Runyon Canyon is considered a moderate level trail and is used primarily for hiking, and running. Did I mention it's basically a giant dog park? Dogs are able to visit leash free within some of the park so if you love dogs it's a must!

There are 5 ways to enter the park, but we used the entrance at the top of Fuller Ave. As far as parking is concerned, you have to rely on street parking. We came around sunset so it wasn't considered a peak time and had no problems finding a spot but we've heard that parking here is the hardest part of the trail so plan accordingly! If parking is an issue, the trailhead on Mulholland Dr. has a designated parking area.

The trail typically takes around an hour depending on which route you take (view trail map here). There are 3 to choose from when starting at Fuller gate:
  • Runyon Canyon Road - Easy: gradual climb on a paved road most of the way.
  • Star Trail - Medium: The one we chose. This takes you on a counter clockwise loop with a gradual incline on dirt trails. Some steps and steep slopes. Not too difficult but we ended up running parts of it for more a workout. The descent down can be tricky if you don't have appropriate shoes. We slipped a couple times so be careful!
  • Hero Trail - Difficult: This takes you on a clockwise loop and starts with an 18 degree slope and then on the spine of the ridge to the second highest point on the trail. From there you are presented with beautiful views of the Pacific.
Keep in mind that peak times are on weekends and in the summer - mornings and evenings are the best times to go for photos. However, regardless of when you go, this trail is ALWAYS busy. If you are looking for more of a nature feel and less people, this trail isn't for you. If you want to spend a couple hours outdoors with beautiful views of the city, this is the trail for you. Just because it's busy doesn't mean you don't get your dose of nature, however. The upper canyon trail is home to plenty of wildlife, from birds, owls (which we saw after the sunset), hawks, snakes, lizards, deer and coyote.

We enjoyed the hike and were amazed by the views - not expecting to be quite so blown away. We were fortunate enough to go on a clear day so we were able to see 360 degree views of the city and beyond. However, if you go in the evenings in the middle of January like we did - you might want to consider bringing a jacket. We didn't expect it to get quite as cold as it got especially after the sunset, so you've been warned! We are looking forward to taking future visitors on this trail!

Runyon Canyon Trail - First viewpoint

It was another delightful hike and lovely California sunset. They never get old.

Here is a list of other popular hiking trails in and around the greater LA area:

Have a favorite hiking trail? Let us know in the comments, we love suggestions!

Happy Hiking!


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