7 Hikes Near Los Angeles That Lead To Stunning Waterfalls & Ocean Views

Your guide to the best hikes around Los Angeles.

Waterfall at Solstice Canyon in Los Angeles. Right: A woman with a red hat on a hiking train in Solstice Canyon.
Contributing Writer

Waterfall at Solstice Canyon. Right: Hiker in Solstice Canyon

One of the things that makes Los Angeles unique is the fact that you can be in bumper-to-bumper traffic one minute and the next you can be surrounded by peaceful nature as you hike to one of the city’s many stunning trails. The magnificent landscape of Los Angeles makes this city a hiker's dream, with its breathtakingly beautiful coastlines, sweeping hills and mountains, and ample wildlife.

Here are some of the best hikes in and around Los Angeles, filled with captivating terrains, waterfalls, and ocean views.

1. Griffith Park

Address: Fern Dell Dr., Los Angeles, CA

Why You Need To Go: There are many starting points to this hike, but we recommend starting at the Los Feliz entrance on Fern Dell Road. From there, start your hike at the ever-so-charming Trails Cafe, a small wooden cabin with communal picnic tables where you can enjoy coffee, pastries, and sandwiches, a perfect spot for a pre or post-hike meal. From Trails Cafe you can make your way up the mountain and be in awe by the outstanding views of classic Hollywood landmarks such as the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory. Once at the top, there are countless lookout points from the grounds of The Griffith Observatory where you can take in the views of the vast city below. The museum at The Observatory is also open daily free of charge and well worth the visit!

Griffith Park Website

2. Runyon Canyon

Address: 2000 N. Fuller Ave., Los Angeles, CA

Why You Need To Go: It’s amazing that Runyon Canyon is located in the heart of Hollywood, because once you're in the park you're surrounded by mountains and beautiful nature. Considering its central location the trails in the park can get quite busy, but luckily there are a few to choose from and some are lesser-known than others making finding solitude in this park a possibility.

The 3.3-mile loop in the park is a more treacherous hike and a great workout, and on this specific trail there are fewer fellow hikers and some amazing views of Hollywood and the mountain range beyond. Runyon Canyon is a dog-friendly hike and one of the most famous and well-known ones in Los Angeles, making this not only an incredible place to exercise and take in views but also incredibly fun for people and dog-watching and the occasional celebrity sighting.

Runyon Canyon Website

3. Solstice Canyon

Address: Intersection of Corral Canyon and Solstice Canyon roads, Malibu, CA

Why You Need To Go: This Malibu hike is a little slice of heaven. Tucked away in the foothills of one of Malibu’s most beautiful canyons lies Solstice Canyon Park. Here you can enjoy hikes up into the Santa Monica Mountains that lead to sweeping views of The Pacific Ocean along Malibu’s breathtaking coastline. At the rear of the park, there is a cascading crystal clear waterfall which is a peaceful and drop-dead gorgeous landscape to enjoy a picnic or take a rest from the day’s hiking. In the park, you can also find the burnt remains of an old ranch and cottage, making it a fun place for some off-path exploring.

Solstice Canyon Website

4. Inspiration Point Loop Trail

Address: Will Rogers State Park Road, Los Angeles, CA

Why You Need To Go: Inspiration Point is located in The Pacific Palisades next to the historic Will Rogers Park. This is an easy-to-moderate hike, so it's great for all levels of hikers. It also provides picturesque views from Santa Monica to Downtown LA. The trail is covered in towering eucalyptus trees making for a peaceful and shady stroll along the trailhead. You can also appreciate views of The Will Rogers 186-acre ranch which was the home to the famed actor and radio personality of the 1930s, which is complete with its very own polo field.

Will Rogers State Park Website

5. Portugues Bend Reserve

Address: Burma Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Why You Need To Go: This stunning hike is located on the Palos Verdes Penisula and offers jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean and the island of Catalina. The wildlife is abundant here, with wildflowers in the spring months, native trees and plants, rabbits, lizards, and — be careful — the occasional rattlesnake. The Portugues Bend Reserve offers trails for all levels, ranging from 1-6 miles in length. One of the trails in the reserve leads you to the mind-blowingly beautiful Sacred Beach. Before descending to the shores of Sacred Beach, take a moment to appreciate the astounding views on the bluffs as the turquoise ocean spreads out in all directions. Once at the rocky coast, let your inner child run free as you could spend hours alone exploring the tide pools and unique wildlife that this truly sacred beach has to offer.

Portugues Bend Reserve Website

6. Fryman Canyon

Address: 8401 Mulholland Dr., Studio City, CA

Why You Need To Go: Fryman Canyon is a perfect hike for those who don’t want to stray far from the city of LA, but still want all the good views, landscape, and exercise. Located in the Studio City area of Los Angeles, this hike offers a loop with a range of landscapes, from the streets in the surrounding neighborhoods to the dirt paths that wind through lush green shrubbery, trees, and streams. This trail brings unbeatable views all year round. Natural surroundings blend with the vistas of the sprawling city of Los Angeles as it unfolds in front of you. In the winter months, you might even spot the snow-capped peaks of The San Gabriel Mountains.

Fryman Canyon Park

​7. Charmlee Wilderness Park

Address: 2577 Encinal Canyon Rd., Malibu, CA

Why You Need To Go: Charmlee Wilderness Park is located on a bluff in Northern Malibu and provides stunning 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding mountains. If you're looking for a tranquil and less frequented hike, Charmlee is a great choice. Due to its remote location, you rarely see too many other hikers on this trail, making for a peaceful and humbling hiking adventure. During the Woolsey Fire in 2018 much of the park was damaged, but luckily in 2020 it was reopened to the public and hikers can come and enjoy the views, wildlife, and nature of this incredible Malibu hiking paradise.

Charmlee Wilderness Park Website

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

Jordan Mautner
Contributing Writer