Runyon Canyon Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Los Angeles and often shows up on publishers’ lists of best hikes in LA. This 130-acre dog park is located in Hollywood on the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains, providing hikers with a few overlapping loops and great views over Hollywood. For a quick Runyon Canyon hike, try a 1.65-mile loop with 500 feet of elevation gain, or get more of a workout on a larger 2.65-mile loop with 700 feet of elevation gain. To really stretch your legs, extend things even farther for a 3.25-mile hike with 800 feet of elevation gain. This is a crowded park, so if you are a trail snob expecting peace and quiet, Runyon Canyon probably isn’t for you (check out these other hikes in Los Angeles). If you are just looking for a bit of outdoor exercise with added people watching, Runyon Canyon is perfect.
The majority of the trails in Runyon Canyon Park are wide dirt and paved fire roads, but there are also single-track trails that are often steeper and less maintained. Runyon Canyon is officially a dog park and has off-leash areas where canines run free. Plenty of hikers and joggers hit the trail without dogs, and Runyon Canyon clearly receives more foot (and paw) traffic that any other park in Los Angeles. The landscape is well trodden and the trails can easily feel congested.
The Runyon Canyon hikes described here begin from the main entrance at the top of Fuller Avenue, two blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard. The directions can be modified to pick up the loop from some of the park’s other entrances. For something really short and easy (0.7 miles and 125 feet of elevation gain) you could begin your hike from the top of Runyon Canyon Park where there is a trailhead along Mulholland Drive and hike a short loop to the park’s high point, effectively removing the 2.65-mile loop from the grand 3.25-mile loop starting from Fuller Avenue. Those looking to hike even farther, can connect Runyon Canyon Park to nearby Trebek Open Space. Take a look at the map below to see the trail options in and around Runyon Canyon Park.
The trail up the bottom of Runyon Canyon
Pass through the large gate at the top of North Fuller Avenue and begin hiking up Runyon Canyon. To the left you will see an open lawn where outdoor yoga classes are often held. You will then reach a trail junction that marks the beginning of the loops. A wide dirt road heads to the left, west toward the nearby Vista Street Gate where it joins Runyon Canyon Fire Road, the gradual half of the smaller loop in the park. For a steeper more scenic climb, continue straight through the intersection and hike the loop in a counter-clockwise direction.
Runyon Canyon Fire Road
The trail progresses gradually up the bottom of the canyon through an off-leash area, before turning sharply to the right up the east side of the canyon. Just 0.45 miles from the start, the fire road arrives at Inspiration Point. There is a bench here, so relax and take in the scenic view over Hollywood. The hike is about to become more challenging.
From Inspiration Point, the road is reduced to a wide single-track that makes a steep ascent up the ridgeline. Wooden steps assist in the climb as you gain another 340 feet over a third of a mile when East Ridge Trail levels out and provides eastern views toward Griffith Park and the Hollywood Sign. Continue up the ridge to a second viewpoint, Clouds Rest, which overlooks Los Angeles from an elevation of 1,040 feet.
Not far past this perch, the trail unites with Runyon Canyon Fire Road, 0.95 miles from the start of the hike. Now it is time to make a decision. You may turn left and take the gradual Runyon Canyon Fire Road down the other side of Runyon Canyon for a 1.65-mile loop hike with 500 feet of elevation gain. Turn right to ascend to Western High Way Trail, which travels up, over, and down the ridge on the west side of Runyon Canyon for a 2.65-mile trek with 700 feet of elevation change. If you hike all the way to the top of Runyon Canyon Fire Road, you can visit the highest point in Runyon Canyon Park before descending Western High Way Trail for a 3.25-mile hike with 800 feet of elevation gain.
If you select the shorter outing, simply take the fire road down into the canyon toward the Vista Street Gate. Turn left on the road just before the gate to return to junction with the original trail down the center of Runyon Canyon. Then turn right to exit through the Fuller Avenue Gate.
If you opt for one of the longer loops, keep in mind that the trail on the opposite ridge is less maintained with several steep sections and no wooden steps. Turn right on Runyon Canyon Fire Road and head up the mountain toward Mulholland Drive. After 0.4 miles, just past a house with a goat pen, you will reach an unmarked junction with a iurt fire road heading uphill to the left. Turn left here for the 2.65-mile loop.
For the 3.25-mile loop to the top of the park, stay to the right and continue another 0.15 miles up Runyon Canyon Fire Road to the trailhead on Mulholland Drive. Just before the large gate at the trailhead, turn left and follow a dirt trail west that will turn south toward the park’s high point. Pass through a switchback and come to another junction after 0.15 miles. Turn right to hike another 0.15 miles out to the park’s high point at 1,325 feet where you’ll get a sweeping view over Hollywood. The Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory are easy to spot in Griffith Park to the east and the Pacific Ocean should be visible to the west beyond Santa Monica. After taking in the views, backtrack to the junction and head the other way, hiking southwest for a tenth of a mile down to a junction on Western High Way Trail, a tenth of a mile from Runyon Canyon Fire Road where the extension to the top of the park began.
The overlook at the top of Runyon Canyon Park/p>
For the 2.65 mile loop, turn left at the junction between Western High Way Trail and Runyon Canyon Fire Road. After a tenth of a mile, you will pass the trail coming down from the park’s high point on the right. In another 0.15 miles, stay to the left past a dirt trail that connects to Solar Drive. This road can be used to connect Runyon Canyon Park to the top of Trebek Open Space, 0.4 miles away (hike 0.25 miles down Solar Drive to Astral Drive and turn left to reach Astral Drive Trail). Beyond this junction Western High Way Trail passes a mansion and descends toward a ridge on the west side of Runyon Canyon Park, narrowing to a southbound single track. A short steep spurt brings you up a distinct rock outcropping near the 1,200-foot highpoint of the ridge. To the west there is a nice view over Trebek Open Space and Nichols Canyon.
Looking down the West Ridge of Runyon Canyon
From this lofty vantage, the congestion of hikers below look like ants marching up the mountainside. Most trails around Los Angeles offer the opportunity to escape city life. At Runyon Canyon, hikers trade solitude for community.
Western High Way Trail
Take in the towering view of the cityscape to the south before making a steep decent into the canyon. Be careful coming down off the ridge. The dirt is loose in places and the precipitous trail drops 600 feet in just half a mile.
The rough trail ends just above the Vista Street Entrance, meeting up with Runyon Canyon Fire Road. A short distance up the road from the gate, take an immediate right and drop down to the original trail in the center of Runyon Canyon. The loop is complete. Turn right to exit the park through the Fuller Avenue Gate.
There are additional short trails within the park that you may wish to explore. The 1.65, 2.65, and 3.25-mile hikes all offer great overviews of Runyon Canyon. There is no fee or permit required to hike in Runyon Canyon Park, so get out and enjoy.
Note: the trails in Runyon Canyon Park will be closed during the months of April, May, June, and July of 2016.
To get to the trailhead: From Hollywood Boulevard, travel 0.2 miles west of La Brea Ave. and head north on North Fuller Ave. Head north across Franklin Ave. and begin searching for street parking. The entrance to Runyon Canyon Park is at the top of Fuller Ave. Street parking can be scarce.
Trailhead address: 1854 North Fuller Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Trailhead coordinates: 34.105259, -118.348933 (34° 06′ 18.93″N 118° 20′ 56.15″W)
Use the map below to view the trail and get directions:
|Trebek Open Space|
This 2.5-mile hike incorporated Bantam Trail and Castair Trail in a park adjacent to Runyon Canyon.
|Fryman Canyon Loop|
This 3-mile loop follows Betty B. Dearing Trail through Wilacre Park and Coldwater Canyon Park around Fryman Canyon in the Studio City side of the Hollywood Hills.
This pair of short loops explore Franklin Canyon Park and ridges in the Santa Monica Mountains above Beverly Hills.
|Franklin Canyon Lake Loop & Chaparral Trail|
This 2.5-mile hike loops around Franklin Canyon Lake and ascends Chaparral Trail (optionally) for an overview of Franklin Canyon.
This short easy hike visits a man-made cave recognizable as the Batcave from the 1960s Batman TV series and hundreds of other locations on TV and film.
|Mount Lee and the Hollywood Sign via Hollyridge Trail|
This 3.5-mile hike ascends 750 feet to reach the summit of Mount Lee behind the Hollywood Sign.
|Mount Lee and the Hollywood Sign via Brush Canyon Trail|
This 6.4-mile hike crosses Griffith Park from Canyon Drive to the top of Mount Lee directly behind the landmark Hollywood Sign.
|Cahuenga Peak from Wonder View Trail|
This 3-mile hike ascends 925 feet to Cahuenga Peak and the adjacent Mount Lee, home of the Hollywood Sign.
|Lake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail|
This 3.5-mile loop circles a peaceful fence-enclosed reservoir in the hills below the Hollywood Sign.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.
This 4.75-mile hike climbs 500 feet over a scenic mountain between Liberty Canyon and Las Virgenes Canyon on the north end of Malibu Creek State Park.
|Zuma Canyon Ocean View Trail – Canyon View Trail Loop|
This 3.1-mile loop demands more effort than Zuma Canyon Trail and provides great ocean and canyon views.
This 2.5-mile loop offers ocean and canyon views from a unspoiled section of the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu.
| Temescal Canyon|
This 2.6-mile loop offers a variety of scenery and decent exercise, despite its relative brevity.