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5 Easy Dog-Friendly Hikes in Los Angeles

My favorite part of LOTR is when Galadriel tells Frodo, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." I'd like to think of my dog as the hobbit of the canine world. Our seven-pound rescue chihuahua, Lucy, is small in stature but big in heart. She's scrappy, totally fearless, and super ugly-cute. Plus, she's always up for a challenge, especially if it involves scaling a mountain—and she will always, always beat you to the top.

By / July 20, 2016

These days, Lucy is navigating a new challenge: living with cancer. As we face this together, I’m reminded to face difficult things with as much heart as she does. So, these hikes may not be the absolute easiest. But if your pack loves an adventure, try one of our favorites, will ya?

Firebreak Trail to Griffith Observatory

Los Feliz – Los Angeles, CA
1.3 Miles, Moderate

This short but challenging trail will bring you right to the Observatory door. Start at sunrise for amazing city views and reward yourself for waking up at the literal crack of dawn with a treat from Trails Cafe (located right by the trailhead). We often do this hike on weekday mornings, but even on a weekend it tends to be less crowded than the nearby West Observatory Trail. Take this hike easy on your first time. There are a few slippery parts that will likely trip you up more than your dog. And, be prepared to get that fine LA dust between your toes. Trust me, it’ll be worth it to see your four-legged friend scale some scrambles.

 

Elysian Park West Loop

Silverlake/Echo Park – Los Angeles, CA
2.4 Miles, Easy

This place is perfect for socializing your pooch with others, because I’m pretty sure there’s always more dogs than humans here. Plus, the trail is great for beginners of all species (you’ll probably see some horses here, too). Not only is Elysian pretty conveniently located, but it also has some killer city views and really beautiful botanical life. If only they allowed dogs in Dodger Stadium…

 

Wisdom Tree Trail

Hollywood Hills – Los Angeles, CA
3 Miles, Moderate-Difficult

If Firebreak is your sunrise spot, Wisdom Tree is the single most perfect place to catch the sun as it sets. This quick hike is technically part of Griffith Park, but the trailhead begins amongst the mansions of Wonder View Drive. It’s definitely a thigh-buster, but totally worth it for the views. The top is marked by a lone tree clinging to the mountain—the only in the area that survived the Hollywood Hills Fire in 2007—and a summit box with beautiful register entries. Our crew typically departs 30 minutes before sunset, enjoys a beverage (beer, to be specific) at the top while the sun is setting over the city, and we make it back down to the car just in time for nightfall.

 

Ernest E. Debs Regional Park

Montecito Heights – Los Angeles, CA
5.2 Miles, Easy-Moderate

This place is the best. Between the dog-friendly trails off the park’s 5-mile loop, Audubon Center, adorable pine tree-lined pond (it’s called Peanut freakin’ Lake!), and well-kept picnic area and restrooms, you could spend a whole day at Deb’s. If you’re visiting for the first time, I suggest picking up a map and borrowing some binoculars from the Audubon Center. You’ll see some amazing views of DTLA and Pasadena and, if you’re lucky, some incredible wildlife too. If you’re hungry when you leave, swing by Kitchen Mouse for some incredible eats. They have tables outside, so your pooch can hang with you.

 

Sandstone Peak

Malibu, CA
6.1 Miles, Moderate

Without a doubt, my favorite day trip includes a hike to Sandstone Peak and a picnic at the nearby Leo Carrillo State Park beach. Leave early to make a day of it, and head to the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. During the hike up, you’ll encounter a variety of landscapes and views of both the mountains and the coast, at which point you’ll remember why you deal with the traffic and anything else you can think to complain about here. But, the best thing about this trail IMO is what happens after a rainstorm: the sage, bay laurel, and other fragrant native plants come alive and it smells delicious.

By

An Angeleno by way of Brooklyn, Angela is Rally’s Managing Editor and a lover of chihuahuas, feminism, and ice cream. She speaks with her hands and major life goals include visiting every U.S. national park.

More articles by Angela Giacchetti

Comments

14 Comments

  1. great article on the dog hikes, but do you have suggestons for those of us with canines in orange county- north, near the LOng beach side of the OC?

  2. Michelle Dent

    BTW, dogs are allowed in Dodger Stadium on Bring Your Dog to the Park days. Your furry friend gets to watch the game and scarf Dodger Dogs with you. Dog eat dog.

  3. Diana Light

    Angela, Thanks for your lovely articles about dog friendly trails and our sympathies as you deal with Lucy’s cancer. We’ve been there and are still heartbroken after nearly two years. Diana Light, Orange County

  4. My little 7 lb rescue Chihuahua, named Big Daddy just passed last year; a clone to your Lucy in the looks dept. My new rescue, half Chi/half MinPin and I will run these routes together, in remembrance of my little man and as a hoorah for your Lucy! Thanks for sharing these nuggets of info for K9/Human hiking trails~

  5. Michael

    Please watch out for coyotes on these hikes!! We have a little Maltese and a Yorkie, and we have caught coyotes watching our pups and waiting for an opportunity to snatch them from us .. Be vigilant and keep your dogs on a leash, it could easily SAVE THEIR LIVES!! Other than that, great recommendations and have fun out there puppy people!!

  6. Angela Giacchetti
    Angela Giacchetti

    100%–we encounter coyotes every time we visit Griffith and have seen some rattlesnakes, too. Hiking on a leash is a must for us. Thanks for the PSA!

  7. Angela Giacchetti
    Angela Giacchetti

    RIP Big Daddy! Chihuahuas are special beasts 🙂 I hope you are your new pal have tons of fun. Thank you for reading and sharing your story!

  8. Angela Giacchetti
    Angela Giacchetti

    Thank you, Diana! That means so much to us. It’s not easy to say goodbye, but it’s worth it for all the love and and joy they bring to those around them.

  9. Frances Bojorquez

    Angela, You say Lucy is “super ugly-cute”. No way. She’s a beautiful tri-colored chi and looks just like my beautiful Roxie. I’m sorry to hear about Lucy’s cancer. In March Roxie showed all the signs of congestive heart disease at 12 years old. She’s on meds but her time is near. When it’s not in the 90’s in the Valley, I use an umbrella stroller to take to her favorites spots (you know what I mean) in the neighborhood.

  10. Angela Giacchetti
    Angela Giacchetti

    Thank you for your kind words and best wishes to little Roxie! It’s so hard to go through an illness with your furry best friend, but wonderful to still be able to enjoy those simple pleasures together.

  11. Kirby Shankln

    First, good luck and more happy trails to you and to Roxie.
    Further reason for dogs on leash is other small wild critters and ground nesting birds. Birdsong is part of a hiker’s philharmonic.

  12. Dyan Sublett

    I love the fact that you’ve written a hiking guide for folks with dog hikers! Kia and I hike half the summer in the San Juan mountains in Colorado, but are now exploring the Santa Monica Mountains. We have a simple question: Is the distance calculated one way or round trip? Is Sandstone Peak, for example, 6.1 miles to the top, and about the same (assuming we don’t descent the steep Backbone Trail) on return, for a total of 12.2 miles?

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