Hikes: Upper Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon is by far one of the most popular hikes in Los Angeles. Because of its proximity to residential areas of Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, celebrity sightings are common. The park is also noted for having a fairly liberal dog policy, with dogs allowed off-leash in 90 of the park's 160 acres. This is a crowded park, so if you are expecting peace and quiet, Runyon Canyon probably isn’t for you. Crowds aside, Upper Runyon canyon trail is home to a variety of wildlife including birds, owls and hawks; snakes and lizards; and deer and coyote.

The first hike described here is one of those inverted hikes where you descend to the destination and ascend back up on the way out. Not my favorite type of hike (I like to get the work out of the way up front) - but the total elevation gain here is rather minimal, about 150 ft over ¾ mi - so the overall effort required would classify this hike (walk, really) as an easy one.

Approaching Clouds Rest

Begin at the parking lot on Mulholland Dr. at an elevation of 1,215 ft, where Pyramid Pl. and Desmond Estates Rd. intersect (about ½ mi west of Outpost Dr.). Stay to the left, walk past the park gate and continue down Runyon Canyon Rd. You'll pass a few private homes initially, but after about a ¼ mi, views to the south will begin to open up. In ¾ mi, you'll arrive at Cloud's Rest at an elevation of 1,065 ft.

Runyon Canyon from Clouds Rest

From here, the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory can be seen to the east; Downtown Los Angeles (7 miles away) is to the south-east; Park La Brea, Wilshire Boulevard (3 miles away) and the Baldwin Hills, which obscure LAX (11 miles away), are due south. The Pacific Ocean (12 miles away) and Catalina Island can be seen on clear days to the south-west. Nearer at hand, the Sunset Strip and the Pacific Design Center can be spotted with Century City behind them. The Hollywood and Highland Center (with the white elephants on the roof), and the Chinese Theatre, can be spotted on Hollywood Boulevard; the circular Capital Records building, to the left of them, is on Vine St.

Briar Summit from Indian Rock

Alternatively (or additionally), you can take a short jaunt to the highest point in the park, Indian Rock, at an elevation of 1,320 ft. From the parking lot, stay right this time and take the trail up the hill where, in about 100 yds, it will swing left, and quickly head up a switch-back. Just after the switch-back you will come to a junction: stay to the right and continue south for about a ¼ mi to Indian Rock. From here you will notice Briar Summit Open Space Preserve to the north-west; the San Fernando Valley to the north and Griffith Park to the east. Views to the south and south-east however, are somewhat marred by the power lines running through the top of the park. For better views over Hollywood and the L.A. Basin, you're better off heading down to Clouds Rest, as described above.

Details - Clouds Rest
Distance: 1.5 mi
Duration: 1 hr
Elevation Range: 1,215 ft - 1,065 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 150 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 150 ft
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.119374, -118.353065
Description: Clouds Rest in Runyon Canyon has commanding views of Griffith Park, Hollywood and the L.A. Basin.
Details - Indian Rock
Distance: .66 mi
Duration: .5 hrs
Elevation Range: 1,215 - 1,325 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 110 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 110 ft
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.119374, -118.353065
Description: Indian Rock, at 1,325 ft is the highest point in Runyon Canyon.