Runyon Canyon is a quintessential Los Angeles hike with sandy soil and plenty of grasses and flowers; Plus you can look down to the city and the Hollywood sign. This was by far the busiest trail we visited in LA. It’s a great option if you are looking for an established trail with chances for people (and puppy) watching. Don’t do this hike expecting a peaceful escape from the city! It is a fun, busy urban hike.
We were only in LA for a few days because Marc won an award for his work on the movie, Dune. This was our final hike of the holiday, the day after the award ceremony (in March 2022). Runyon Canyon is easy enough to hike with a slight hangover.
Runyon Canyon Map
Runyon Canyon trail – the basics
Distance: 3 miles (4.8km)
Elevation gain: 790ft (241m)
Time: 1.5 hours
What to bring: You need grippy shoes and at least a water bottle.
Facilities: There are quite a few water fountains, but no toilets
Dogs: Dog friendly. (Dogs need to be on a leash in some areas)
How hard is it?
This trail is great for a mini workout. It’s steep in a few places so will get your heart pumping.
Extra notes: Watch out for snakes!
Runyon Canyon – Getting started
We started from the top of North Fuller Avenue, which is a couple of blocks from Hollywood Boulevard. We were staying in Hollywood, so this was a super short taxi/uber trip to the park entrance. If you’re driving, there was some street parking, but not much!
Clockwise or Counterclockwise?
You can hike in either direction. We went clockwise as I prefer to hike up the steepest sections and come down the steps.
West ridge of Runyon Canyon
The trail ascends pretty quickly so you can look down to Los Angeles. Near the start, there is a small Canary Island Pine tree that needs you to share a sip of your water. There are a few places to fill up water bottles along the way, so be generous with this tree.
This is the view up to the high point of the west side of the canyon.
Look west towards Beverly Hills (where Marc received his award the previous night – woot!)
Once you’ve made it up, you get to hike along the ridge with fantastic views of LA. There are a couple of slightly sketchy areas on the way up. The trail is very steep and sandy, so not very grippy. This is an urban hike, but you do need hiking shoes with a good grip!
We got our first view of the Hollywood sign. Look off in the distance, by my hand…
Smiley Face garden
There are some mansions at the top of the west ridge, below one of these is a smiley face garden. The trail goes below the giant smiley face, then climbs up some steps to the power lines in the photo below.
Best Runyon Canyon views
My favorite area of the trail was at the far end, where you can look down to Los Angeles between the canyon ridges.
This is the view from the steps at the far end of Runyon Canyon. Gorgeous eh!?
Heading to the East Ridge
There are a couple of options for returning. First, hike along a paved fire road. The easiest way back is to continue along that road back to the start. The more picturesque route is to stay high on the East ridge to inspiration point.
We found a swirl made out of rocks as well as some massive aloe plants along the paved road.
This was the best place to view the Hollywood sign (and the posh looking houses that surround it!) The east side of Runyon Canyon was also pretty great for LA views.
If you plan to stay high and follow the East trail; Turn off onto the sandy hiking trail when you reach the water fountain. It’s pretty fab to have so many fountains on the trail.
There are some fences by the side of the trail with hundreds of locks attached. Once you’ve seen them, keep hiking down the stairs down towards the bench at inspiration point.
Don’t forget to look backwards to see the gorgeous views of Runyon Canyon that you just hiked around. From here, simply hike back down to the North Fuller Avenue gate.
Panoramas from Runyon Canyon
I’ll finish with a couple of panoramas so you can see the full views from the canyon.
Runyon Canyon is a fantastic urban hike that is very easy to reach from Hollywood. It is pretty short, so it is a great way to look down on this super-fun city, even if you only have a few hours to spare. It is also great for furry friends, so you’ll see plenty of happy dogs along the way.