LMU Trail (Westchester Fire Road)
in Los Angeles
For those times when you can’t get out of LA to go for a hike, the city offers several urban trails. Those who live around Loyola Marymount University (in Culver City, Ladera Heights, Marina Del Rey, Playa Vista, Westchester, West LA, etc.) may enjoy getting a taste of the outdoors along with some exercise on the LMU Trail, also know as Westchester Fire Road. This partially paved road crosses the bluff below Loyola Marymount University (and the white LMU lettering) and is a level 2.15 miles from point to point. There is a side trail along the way that climbs to the top of the bluff, which can be used to add a short hill workout to the hike for an all-in distance of 4.7 miles round trip with 125 feet of elevation gain.
LMU Trail crosses the Westchester Bluffs on the north side of the Loyola Marymount University Campus. The trail starts near Court Park at the corner of Bluff Creek Drive and Centinela Avenue and goes southwest all the way to Lincoln Boulevard. Since there is no parking at the end of the trail at Lincoln Boulevard, it is best to access the trail from the east side (unless you are within walking or biking distance of the trail’s west end). Start from Court Park in Playa Vista and take the sidewalk path southwest along Bluff Creek Drive. After a tenth of a mile, the walkway hits the start of LMU Trail across from the intersection between Bluff Creek Drive and Artisans Way.
Bear left up LMU Trail and stay to the left through a junction with another dirt road on the right, which is closed to the public to protect a fragile habitat for birds and other animals (otherwise, you could use the nice lower trail to convert this hike into a loop). A short distance farther up the LMU Trail, the pavement begins and the trail is mostly paved from this point on.
Toyon and other brush line the trail as it crosses this narrow strip of nature on the bluffs. A line of houses forms a rim at the top, and there is a wooded stream below the trail. Two panels along the trail depict the wildlife on the bluffs, including snakes, lizards, rabbits, butterflies, and a variety of birds. You may also find white paint on the road, marking out every quarter mile of the trail to keep you updated on your progress.
The LMU Trail ascends partway up the side of the bluff to open up views over the city below. To your right, below the trail, you’ll pass large hangers that were part of the historic Hughes Airport. The hangar was built to hold Howard Hugh’s famous and enormous plane, the Spruce Goose, or Hercules. The hanger has been converted into a film studio, and much of Avatar was filmed at the Raleigh Studios in the Howard Hughes – Hercules Complex. You’ll also pass the YouTube Space LA, where many smaller works are being created.
At 0.7 miles, you will come to a junction with a paved trail ascending to the left. This side trail can be used to ascend 100 feet in 0.2 miles to the top of the bluffs. The trail climbs to broader views over the west side of LA County, looking north toward the Santa Monica Mountains. At the end of this side trail, you will reach Altamor Drive in the neighborhood above the bluffs.
Return to the LMU Trail where it another level 0.7 miles to the LMU sign and 1.45 miles to Lincoln Boulevard. If you keep an eye on the bluff above the trail, you’ll spot the clock tower at Sacred Heart Chapel on LMU’s campus, which resembles a lighthouse. The trail will then pass just below the large white L-M-U letters laid out on the bluff to mark the campus.
Another 0.75 miles past the LMU Sign, you will reach the end of the trail at Lincoln Boulevard. Across Lincoln Boulevard, a trail continues along the bluff, descending into the Ballona Freshwater Marsh to the west. There is no crosswalk connecting the two trails, so if you wish to continue you’ll have to walk up to the intersection with LMU Drive to get across Lincoln Boulevard. If you’re not pushing on, turn around at Lincoln Boulevard and walk, jog, or bike back to the start. It is 2.15 miles (without the side trail up the bluff) back to Court Park. No fee or permit is required to hike the LMU Trail. Bikes and dogs are welcome (dogs must be on a leash), so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: The hike begins from Court Park, located on the southwest side of the corner of Bluff Creek Drive and Centinela Avenue. The entrance to the parking lot is off Bluff Creek Drive. The park is located near (southwest of) the intersection between the 405 freeway and the 90 freeway).
Trailhead address: 12100 West Bluff Creek Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90094
Trailhead coordinates: 33.982744, -118.40128 (33° 58′ 57.87″N 118° 24′ 04.60″W)
View LMU Trail in a larger map
Or view a regional map of surrounding Los Angeles trails and campgrounds.
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This 2.5-mile hike ascends a grassy slope south of Culver City, crossing a steep staircase to an expansive viewpoint overlooking the Los Angeles Basin.
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This 2.5-mile hike delivers views over Los Angeles from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in the Baldwin Hills.
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Great walking trail that’s close to home. Everyone has their dogs off the leash which normally I do not mind. What I saw today changed my opinion of having dogs off their leash. I was walking with a friend & we came across a dog who had found a wild rabbits nest & pulled 6 baby rabbits from their nest. Unfortunately 4 of them were dead & 2 were barely alive.
It’s wonderful to see what little wildlife we have left in this congested city. It’s a shame that what little wild animals we have left could possibly be destroyed by people that are so unaware that dogs nature is to hunt. I wish people would rethink letting their dogs run freely.
Yes, I’m a dog lover and usually don’t mind seeing the dogs on this trail, however it has become overun with dogs off leash as today I had a large pit bull run into the back of my legs. I chastised the owner, it could have caused a confortation. Let’s be civilized and respect the rules.
Thank you for the comment. I agree, the number of people who let their dogs go off-leash is out of control. Something needs to be done.
I agree 100% why is it so hard for people to follow simple rules and instructions as posted? I honestly don’t need people’s dogs charging at me every 5 min (I’m allergic to dogs anyway). The amount of dog poo on the trail that these owners don’t pick up is ridiculous! If you bring your dog on this peaceful trail, keep it on a leash & pick up the freakin poop! It’s disgusting that a lot of these dog owners don’t clean up their dogs waste. There’s a dog park located right below the trail, that would probably be a way better and fun alternative than the trail.
Is the trail safe at night?
Well I’d respond with the question…”Is LA safe at night?” Definitely safer having a dog with you (contrary to those dog haters here).
OMG stop the drama! Every 5 minutes a dog is “charging” you?? Come on. While I would in general agree with your position that owners need to clean up their dog’s poop, the fact you exaggerated on your opening “charging” takes away your credibility. Absent that first drama, I would otherwise accept your second claim.
[…] answer to that dilemma may be the Westchester Fire Road (LMU Trail). Located in the small town of Westchester, this hiking trail is a hidden gem in the […]
The entire trail, I only saw two dogs on a leash! And there are multiple signs telling people to leash them. What would have been a beautiful hike got ruined when I got charged by a group of small dogs whose owners told me that I need to find some place else to hike.
Dog protest ! There is no place for sweet dogs to run free…dog empathy. Not to mention the millions of little dogs that are harmless. I think humans are being a little selfish on this one! ♥️
A few trails around Los Angeles do have off-leash areas for dogs. In addition to Runyon Canyon, check out Westridge Trail and Upper Canyonback Trail on the west side where:
“Dogs are permitted off-leash under their owner’s immediate control so long as the owner or person in possession of the dog exercises that degree of control that enables such person to recall the dog on command, and has a leash on his person at all times so as to be able to restrain the dog if necessary.”
I’m sorry but… no. I’m a solo female hiker and just as it was completely dark, I had something run up behind me and put its wet mouth in my open palm. I honestly freaked out. I looked behind me and it was someone’s off-leash dog. This is NOT OKAY. I DON’T want a dog anywhere near me when I’m jogging/hiking, especially when I’m alone.
I want to start hiking.. I want to know is any body hiking this trail daily..? I need company … even three days is fine too…
My 13 year old healthy dog was killed yesterday around 4:20 pm. It was just he (all 20 pounds of him) and I on the lower path. What I was able to see and piece together as my dog was trailing behind me off leash — there were 3 Coyotes who stalked us and worked as a strategic team. A smaller one I saw scurry away. A very large one was the killer. The large one stared me down and did not retreat. I never retrieved by dog. I’m very disturbed as well as devastated. I think the more success these animals have the bolder they will become. There are toddlers with families that will become targets! We need signs and warnings. Also, the Coyotes are populating my the Jefferson camps and getting used to people! Help.