Drive through Los Angeles these days and you’re bound to notice something that we Angelenos haven’t seen in a long time – vibrant hills covered in emerald blankets of grass. The heavy rains of the last few months have brought LA’s hillsides and parks back to life, reminding us that despite the fact that we live in the second largest city in America, nature is all around us here in LA!
With the weather warming up and spring right around the corner, why not get out there and enjoy the natural side of LA’s watersheds? Here are four of our favorite hiking trails:
- Ernest E. Debs Regional Park – Located in the Arroyo Seco watershed, which is a tributary to the LA River, Ernest E. Debs Regional Park offers picnic areas, hiking and biking trails and views of Downtown Los Angeles, the Southwest Museum and Arroyo Seco below. It’s a dog-friendly park with a hidden pond that is fun to discover. This park has the added bonus of being the home of the Audobon Center at Debs Park. Here, you can go on a birding hike, learn more about native plants or participate in free weekend Tai Chi and Yoga classes.
- Wilacre Park – Located in the hills above Studio City and within the Los Angeles River watershed, this urban gem of a park offers excellent hiking trails and breathtaking views of the San Fernando Valley. Up the hill from Wilacre Park, one can find trailheads leading to Gene Autry Ridge, Fryman Canyon Park and Franklin Canyon Park. Another local treasure located just up the hill from Wilacre Park is the headquarters of TreePeople, an environmental organization. TreePeople works to support Angelenos to care for LA’s urban forest. Their events include citizen forester workshops, rain barrel distributions and moonlight hikes.
- La Tuna Canyon Park – La Tuna Canyon Park is located in Sun Valley, adjacent to La Tuna Canyon Road and within the Los Angeles River watershed. This park includes moderate hiking trails through oak- & sycamore-lined canyons. Hikers may even see a waterfall this time of year while enjoying views of the San Gabriel Mountains and San Fernando Valley. Just down the road from La Tuna Canyon Park is the Theodore Payne Foundation, located at 10459 Tuxford Street in Sun Valley. This foundation specializes in promoting and educating Californians about native plants and wildflowers. Native plants are available for purchase.
- Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area – This 308-acre park, located in the Ballona Creek watershed, features a quaint Japanese garden, workout course and scenic trails. Located just west of Baldwin Hills, this park affords hikers and visitors with stunning views of the Los Angeles basin, including the Pacific Ocean, Hollywood sign and Downtown Los Angeles. A recent visitor commented, “If you really look closely you may even see the Santa Monica pier to the far west. My personal favorite scene is the sunset. The reflection of the sun on the waters of the Pacific Ocean shows you how wonderful our planet is.”
So, take a hike! You’ll discover popping Poppies, lavender Lupines and learn how, even here in LA, it’s easy to be green!
Photo courtesy of Joyce Amaro, LA Sanitation, Watershed Protection Program.