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5 LA Hikes To Take With Your Dog

By KCRW Recording Engineer Ray Guarna

There are few more rewarding ways to spend time with your dog than hiking the abundant canyon trails and fire roads surrounding the Los Angeles area. Here are five of my favorite easy to moderate city hikes that are family and canine friendly.  None of these hikes require special apparel or footwear. Casual clothes, decent sneakers, a bottle of water, and an eager pooch will be all you need.

1 – Fryman Canyon

Dogs – strictly on-leash only. Fryman is a 3 mile loop, in the Hollwood Hills just off Laurel Canyon Blvd in Studio City. It has parking, a well maintained fire road to walk on, and smaller paths that run parallel to the fire road most of the way. If you want a more rustic flavor, take those paths. There is a very gradual elevation gain throughout that rises little more than 400 feet. So it’s pretty casual hiking, or even strolling really. But that doesn’t take away from the wonderful smell of pine, awesome views, and plenty of shade most of the way. It’s easy on your dog and great for the older pooch who still has the ability to walk three miles. About a mile and a half into the hike, you meet up with a short trail from TreePeople, which is worth checking out for some great landscaping tips. Fryman is popular, but it’s not overrun with people and dogs on most days like some of the others on this list.

2 – Griffith Observatory Hike

Dogs – Off Leash. This is one of the oldest and most popular hikes in LA. Start at Fern Dell near Los Feliz Blvd and head up to the Griffith Observatory. It’s a little over 2 miles with a nice casual grade. Early morning or late in the day is best as there’s little shade and the afternoon sun can be brutal. Lots of playful, friendly dogs for your companion to pal around with. The payoff is the great view of the LA basin at the observatory.

3 – Corral Canyon Loop

Dogs – On Leash. The Corral Canyon loop is in Malibu and begins off the PCH next to the Malibu Seafood and Deli. Again, a modest incline of about 500 feet over just two and a half miles. There are awesome views of the ocean up and down the coast of Malibu and some of the more interesting rock formations you’ll see on a city hike. Every time I’ve been here there are almost no other people – just me and my dog – tranquility. Although this is officially an on-leash trail, who’s gonna know if you let them run around?

4 – Mandeville Canyon

Dogs – Off Leash. Mandeville Canyon Fire Road is in Brentwood at the end of Westridge Road.  It has a well maintained fire road and great views.  I once heard this place called the rich man’s Runyon Canyon. I don’t know about that, but it certainly smells better. The hiking here can be easy if you stay on the fire road, and moderately difficult on the side paths.  You and your dog should be in reasonably good shape to take those on. The only negative about Mandeville hiking with your dog is it’s also a popular spot for mountain bikers.  Some of them can ride downhill a little out of control.

5 – Runyon Canyon

Dogs – Off Leash in Designated Areas. I almost didn’t include Runyon because over the last few years it has become so popular and is overrun with so many people that it sometimes feels like you’re walking down 5th Avenue in New York. Street parking can also be a challenge. However, it is conveniently located and there is a good trail on the western part of the canyon that makes this destination worth the effort. And because that western trail is more difficult than the popular fire road, not as many people try to brave it.  The view at the highest point is better than at Griffith. Runyon has three entrances: One is at the top of Fuller Ave in Hollywood, one at the top of North Vista Street, and the other is off Mulholland Drive. If you go here, keep your dog on leash until you get off of the fire road and onto the western trail. Runyon is also the smelliest of all the city hikes. So please, do remember that we don’t live in Paris and bring a bag – strike that – bring two bags, and pick up after your canine buddy no matter where you happen to hike with them.

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