Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Finally, Runyon Canyon

In the many months I have lived in LA, I have gone far and wide to hike the trails of Southern California. The one trail I purposely neglected was one right in my own backyard, Runyon Canyon. I had heard many disparaging things about this park from other hikers. People on their cell phones, rampant dog-ification, not that challenging.

All these things are true to a degree but I  was not nearly as offended as I thought I was going to be doing the Canyon loop. There are even several side-kayak trails (albeit some of them are closed) that look like they can provide further challenges. What about the main trail?

Well, I got to Runyon around 8:45 or so on a Sunday morning after a pretty strenuous bile ride up the hills of LA to get to the Franklin entrance. Whether due to my inherent fatness or the uphill nature of the approach, I was warmed up and ready to rock the Runyon.

The first .10 did not disappoint.

Paved, palm trees. It was like a movie set. You follow this "trail" for a bit until you come to a junction.

Either you go left and up the dirt incline or you go right and up the other side of the canyon. If you are looking for a workout, I suggest going left. The elevation gain is much quicker and its a bit of a challenge to do it all in one stretch.

Eventually, you make your way to the "summit" of the left side of the canyon where I guess you can send mail to the tourists on Hollywood Blvd. right below you.

There is even a surveyor's disk from 1952 pointing the way to Burbank and my Verdugos.

I don't want you to think this hike is not worthwhile except for a little uphill section. There are pockets of beauty.

And some of the vistas do settle you into a wilderness frame of mind.

Still, its clear that people are all around you. You never really lose site of either people on your section of the trail nor on the canyon trail that snakes South to North but was really paved and dog central.

Eventually, you go around the canyon and loop back on the easier, Eastern side of the canyon. Most of the trail is sandy and the Eastern side has railroad ties to stop erosion but are a bit slippery because of the sand. Most people were wearing sneakers but if you have some issues with slippery terrain, I would recommend a more robust trail shoe.

Eventually on the Eastern side, you come into doggy central.

Time to take Rover off the leash? Oh joy! Luckily, all the dogs were cool but there sure were a lot of em. The dogs made their marks all over the sides of the trails (and those brave owners just kicked sand over it, truly a pack in/pack out philosophy). I am a dog guy, I can't wait for my next dog but the amount of dogs past this gate was a bit too much for me.

Making your way down, there are several side-kayak trails that can get your scrambling up a bit which was unexpected but nice.

Of course, I had to take a picture of this iconic bench.

Overall, Runyon surprised me. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought and the Western climb kicked my butt a bit so I was pleasantly surprised. That said, don't expect a wilderness mecca in the heart of Hollywood. There are lots of people and high tension wires on this trail so look at it as more of a chance to get outside and stretch those legs rather than watching the latest E! reality TV show on the elliptical.

If you want further info, check out Modern Hiker's great take: http://www.modernhiker.com/2007/08/16/hiking-runyon-canyon/

And for a bit of humor, a great little youtube piece on the "perils" of hiking Runyon. http://www.modernhiker.com/2010/07/16/runyon-just-above-sunset/

Finally, one of my favorite pics came on the end of the hike. Not too shabby for Runyon eh?


  1. Is your camera lens dirty or is that just the smog that blankets LA :-) Just kidding!

    Looks like a solid hike with great views of the city from the top.

  2. That last pic is pretty fantastic.

  3. Ha, nice one Adayak! I actually got up to the top of the ridge and looked out and said "yup, I can only see 5 miles". However, when it rains out here and clears out all the junks, wow is it pretty.

  4. Glad you weren't put off by the streams of people!


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