I grew up on the Southside of Chicago, and lived there my entire life up until about a year and a half ago. While being an absolutely incredible city full of amazing art, culture and people, Chicago isn’t necessarily known for it’s good weather. Like, the HIGH tomorrow is -12 degrees. That’s the high. It’s disturbing. Other than some camping trips in the summer where we’d walk around Starved Rock and evening strolls in the summer around the neighborhood, growing up in this climate didn’t really lend itself into turning me into someone “outdoorsy.” Fast forward to June of 2017 when my husband and I took a big leap and moved to L.A. for his career. I was apprehensive of some L.A. stereotypes – who could actually hike that much and drink so much green juice? The answer, apparently, is me. Hiking has quickly turned into me and my husband’s favorite weekend activity. I like it because it feels like exercise in disguise. It’s hard work, but it feels more like you’re just exploring and talking. I have the knees of an 80 year old woman, so I tend toward hikes that aren’t crazy hard or long. Plus: After each hike we usually bring a picnic or hit up a happy hour, which I am strongly motivated by. If you’re looking for a medium-hard but beautiful hike in L.A., here are my current favorites:
It only rains a few days a year in L.A. After one of these rains, I highly recommend driving to Malibu and checking out Escondido Falls. The hike is about 3 miles round trip and the midway point has a really pretty waterfall in the middle of some gorgeous green vegetation. The initial trek up to the hike’s start is pretty steep, but you are rewarded with some beautiful views of the ocean. The hike itself is mostly shaded and forest-like. It’s never been super crowded and we always go on the weekends.
I have a million favorite places to have a drink in Malibu, but post-waterfall hike I recommend you drive just up the road to Malibu Seafood. It’s BYOB and has the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten. It’s right on the PCH, so you can watch the waves and the sunset while you eat fresh fish outside. Ideal.
Malibu Creek State Park
While in Malibu, my favorite place on Earth pretty much, you should also check out Malibu Creek State Park. This is where they filmed MASH (which tbh I’ve never seen) which draws some crowds. For me though, it offers gorgeous mountain views with not too much effort required. There’s a secret path about a mile and half in that leads to a beautiful little lake where you can picnic. Some of the park was lost due to the devastating Woolsey Fire, but it has reopened to the public. This is a really special place to stroll.
If you wore some chic lululemon on this hike, or have a quick change in the car, head over to the Malibu Café at Casamigos Ranch. It’s like stumbling upon someone’s dream-like backyard party. Think killer cocktails, string lights, s’mores and lawn games.
Will Rogers State Park
This has quickly become a favorite. Will Rogers State Historic Park is the former estate of Will Rogers. It’s in the Santa Monica mountains near the affluent Pacific Palisades neighborhood. This place is very calming to me. The hike is a nice 3 miles but you can make it longer – we try to hike a little higher each time. It offers both ocean and mountain views and also has horses (!!). We haven’t tried taking a horseback ride down the trail but it is high our to-do list.
The park has two picnic areas built in, which we like to take advantage of. My favorite spot is the huge field just off the horse stables. It’s peaceful and there’s usually a lot of adorable puppies running around.