We have always heard great things about Runyon Canyon and know it as one of the most popular hikes in Los Angeles. Even with high expectations, we were pleasantly surprised by this fairly urban getaway.
Parking is the biggest challenge since there is no specific lot and the street parking is competitive to say the least. We arrived early afternoon and needed to park a few blocks away.
The lower section of the trail is very busy and if that level of crowd had persisted, we wouldn’t be recommending this trail. Fortunately, as you begin to make choices to hike higher and steeper sections, the crowds thin considerably. We chose to take the early turn to the right and to make a counter-clockwise trip around the Canyon.
The first significantly steep section is a staircase that is fairly eroded to the point that people walk to the left, right, and up the high steps of the wooden timbers that were used to unsuccessfully hold back the soil.
The trail rejoins a paved road above the stairs and continues upward at a more gradual pace until it leaves the ‘dog park’ section, where dogs are allowed off leash. If you watch to the left, you’ll find the trail that continuous up to the highest point of the park.
We found our way up to the highest point on the trail which by that point was not crowded and limited to those who you’ll typically see in tougher places to reach. It involved some steep sections that didn’t have the best footing but were no challenge for Mitch and Gwenn.
The way down was even more challenging with Gwenn eagerly pulling over very rough and loose terrain. Once down the steep section, though, it was easy going the remainder of the hike.
Runyon Canyon is a good getaway but we wouldn’t consider it to be a very difficult or long hike. It is close to the city and has great views of Los Angeles and is also a great off-leash dog park.
An excellent spoof on Runyon Canyon, check out Modern Hiker.