Guidebook

The Best of LA's Hard Hikes

Challenge yourself on these tough trails near Los Angeles.

Description

Spend just a little time exploring Los Angeles on foot, and you’ll quickly realize how hilly it is. The city is in a broad basin, but one that’s rippled by small mountain ranges and surrounded by larger ones. The mountainous terrain, plus an abundance of parks and public lands providing access, provide for many challenging hikes near LA.

Many of these hikes are ascents to peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains just north of the city, but there are more. The Santa Monica Mountains rise in the middle of the urban area and have some surprisingly rugged topography. There are also the San Bernardino Mountains to the east, home to Southern California’s tallest mountain, San Gorgonio. Then there is Catalina Island, a mountain in the sea that rises to the west. All are worthy arenas for outdoor adventure, and some of their best trails are highlighted here. Whether you seek the satisfaction of a huge summit, solitude in the wilderness, or simply a great workout, these tough hikes near Los Angeles have it all.

Temescal Ridge to Temescal Peak
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Temescal Ridge to Temescal Peak

Los Angeles
3 - 4 hrs
15.2 km
778 m
774 m
A long, scenic ridgeline overlooking the ocean and downtown LA.
Difficult
Private
Echo Mountain Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Echo Mountain Loop

Los Angeles
2 - 3 hrs
9.1 km
556 m
556 m
Historic path to a ruined resort and one of the best views over Pasadena, plus the waterfalls of Rubio Canyon.
Difficult
Private
Inspiration Point and Muir Peak
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Inspiration Point and Muir Peak

Los Angeles
17.1 km
941 m
939 m
Incredibly scenic uphill journey linking multiple overlooks in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Difficult
Private
Mount Baldy Summit Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Baldy Summit Loop

Los Angeles
4 - 5 hrs
16.4 km
1,218 m
1,218 m
Challenging and scenic hike in the alpine terrain of Los Angeles County's tallest mountain.
Difficult
Private
Cucamonga Peak
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Cucamonga Peak

Los Angeles
5 - 6 hrs
17.9 km
1,281 m
1,269 m
Uphill journey to a jaw-dropping view over San Bernardino Valley.
Difficult
Private
Santa Anita Canyon - Mt. Zion Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Santa Anita Canyon - Mt. Zion Loop

Los Angeles
3 - 4 hrs
13.4 km
701 m
698 m
Full-value loop combining Sturtevant Falls, Mt. Zion summit, and swimming holes in Big Santa Anita Canyon.
Difficult
Private
Mount Wilson
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Wilson

Los Angeles
6 - 7 hrs
21.4 km
1,512 m
1,506 m
Towering above the Los Angeles metro area, Mount Wilson is a formidable—but rewarding—objective.
Severe
Private
San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek Trail

7 - 8 hrs
28.1 km
1,655 m
1,656 m
The most direct trail to the summit of Southern California's tallest mountain.
Difficult
Private
Trans-Catalina Trail: Avalon to Little Harbor
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Trans-Catalina Trail: Avalon to Little Harbor

7 - 8 hrs
30.5 km
1,249 m
1,252 m
The first half of the Trans-Catalina Trail, from the ferry dock over the mountains to a secluded cove beach.
Difficult
Private
Trans-Catalina Trail: Little Harbor to Parsons Landing and Two Harbors
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Trans-Catalina Trail: Little Harbor to Parsons Landing and Two Harbors

7 - 8 hrs
31.3 km
1,313 m
1,314 m
The second half of the Trans-Catalina thru hike, crossing over mountains and the island's isthmus to camp on a remote shore.
Difficult
Private