Griffith Observatory. Credit: Discover Los Angeles
Source: Discover Los Angeles

Los Angeles’ most beautiful runs

Travel and staying healthy rarely go hand in hand, especially when you’re in a destination where supersized meal portions seem to be the norm, like the United States.

Sure, there may be those super-dedicated people who religiously go to the gym every day on their holiday, but who really wants to look at the same four white walls for hours on end when you could be out exploring the area and staying fit in the process?

After watching La La Land recently, memories of Los Angeles and the city’s incredible parklands and gardens came to mind. Blessed with around 300 days of sunshine each year, Los Angeles is tailor made for spending time in the great outdoors.

The iconic Hollywood sign. Source: Discover Los Angeles

The running/walking/dawdling options are plentiful, with numerous parks, trails and attractions to explore in the diverse neighbourhoods that make up the city.

Here are some of the best places for exploration with a healthy dose of exercise:

Mount Hollywood – Griffith Park
The Griffith Observatory, which featured in one of La La Land’s best scenes, is one of my favourite parts of L.A. The views and observatory building are stunning. The park itself has a number of diverse trails twisting and turning through the hills.

For a fun off-road run, take the Hollyridge Trail from the Observatory car park to the summit of Mount Hollywood. In about 40 minutes, you’ll reach the highest peak of the park and be rewarded with spectacular views over the city.

West Loop – Elysian Park
At 600 acres, Elysian Park is the second-largest park in L.A. and offers epic views of Downtown L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. The trailhead for the 2.4-mile loop is located at Elysian Park Dive and Stadium Way. It’s an easy trail that offers good shade and several offshoot paths for those looking to explore the area further.

Depending on your fitness level, it should only take around an hour or so to complete the loop.

The view from Elysian Park. Source: Discover Los Angeles

Eaton Canyon
Situated at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, Eaton Canyon is a hugely popular exercise spot for humans and their canine companions. The star attraction of the canyon is its 40ft waterfall, which gently cascades down into a small round pool. It’s a great spot to cool down and catch you breath.

The trail is less defined than some of the others, and much more rugged, so be prepared for a bit of boulder hopping. Depending on the time of year and rainfall, you may also need to cross a few creeks too.

Topanga State Park
Considered the world’s largest wildland (an area unfit for cultivation) within the boundaries of a major city, Topanga State Park stretches all the way from the Pacific Palisades to Mulholland Drive. It features 58km of trails, and is renowned for its geological formations and ocean vistas.

There are more than 60 trail entrances, meaning you could have a completely different experience from one day to the next. For first time visitors, a good place to start is Trippet Ranch, from which many of the park’s trails can be accessed.

Ocean Trails Reserve
Located in the Palos Verdes Peninsula at the southern end of the city, the Ocean Trails Reserve offers more than 8km of scenic running trails at varying degrees of difficulty. Located adjacent to the Trump National Golf Course, there are numerous trails to explore within the reserve, including the Catalina Trail, Coastal Switchback, and Sagebrush Walk.

If you’re visiting between January and April, make sure you bring the binoculars – this is prime whale watching season. Humpbacks and Orcas are just two of the species you may see.

Inspiration Point & Clouds Rest – Runyon Canyon
Runyon Canyon is a popular place for celeb spotting (albeit mostly sweaty ones). It can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to reach the top, depending on how many of the view points you stop at along the way. Entering at Fuller Avenue, enjoy a gradual run up the back of the canyon, heading around the east ridge to Clouds Rest, and then come back down the steep slope and steps to Inspiration Point. From here, take in views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory all the way to the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. On a clear day, you may even be able to see as far as Santa Catalina Island.

Venice beach promenade
The beachfront promenade at Venice Beach.

Ocean Front Walk – Venice Beach
Honourable mention goes to the Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach, where you can stay fit and indulge in one of my favourite pastimes: people watching. The official route runs from from Navy Street in the north, winding south for around 4kms to the marina.

Along the way you’ll spot the famous Muscle Beach, the pastel-hued lifeguard towers and some stellar street art too. Sunrise or sunset are the most captivating times to run.

There are so many great places to visit across LA. Add your favourite locations below.

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Written by
Chris Ashton

We're Chris Ashton and Simon Ceglinski, two Aussie travellers with a love of exploration and adventure, and the odd bit of luxury thrown in. We seek out street art, street food, and scuba diving wherever we go, and prefer the road less travelled over well-worn tourist paths.

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Written by Chris Ashton