Los Angeles may be a city famous for cars and smog, but there are also lots of outdoor spaces. This is mildly delayed but spring is a perfect time to visit a lot of these places while the weather is warm and not yet hot. I am not covering the popular Griffith Park, the Malibu area, or Runyon Canyon areas as I’ve been making an effort to explore places I had not been yet.
First up is Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. I’d been here many years ago on a misguided mountain bike adventure that I am still not skilled enough for. As a hike it is lovely with a small fishing area, barbecue and picnicking areas, hilariously fake waterfall, and lots of beautiful, if somewhat smoggy, views of Los Angeles.
It’s near impossible to find a map of the park online for some reason. The trails are outlined but it’s hard to find your way around them as there are a lot not shown on this map. Luckily the 308 acre park is easily navigated.
It feels like an oasis of plants in the middle of what is otherwise an endless sprawl of buildings. I’m not sure if it’s technically the same park as the Baldwin Hills stairs but they are only separated by La Cienega and an oil field. This park is much bigger with better trails, less people, and similarly great views.
This is the view from an empty lot near where I live. The oil fields are not the most scenic or full of nature but it is probably an important cause of why this area hasn’t been completely developed yet.
April brought the annual blooming of the poppies at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. I wanted to go in years prior but the drought meant that there were not many flowers to be seen. This year was not the best bloom they’ve ever had but it was enough to make the trek out there.
It felt like endless fields of orange and yellow. I can only imagine what this park looks like on a good, non-drought year. On our drive in even the highways are lined with endless fields of wildflowers. Purple, white, yellow, silver, orange and pink explode in patches everywhere. Even the car is not immune as the monarch butterflies were out in force and can’t seem to avoid your car.
The season for these beautiful flowers is not very long but luckily it is before the desert gets too hot. The park is about an hour north of the city and requires lots and lots of water even for these mild 90 degree days. I’m not sure I want to know what full summer looks like. I love how the flowers ranged from pure yellow to pure orange and every fade in between.
On the way back we stopped at Agua Dulce park. I am amazed that Los Angeles handles so many parks of this size and across such a large area. This park is famous for being the filming spot for many television shows and movies, particularly for the original Star Trek series.
I often take the Ballona Creek off street path but not the other paths so I ventured out to Playa Del Rey to check out Cabora Road. Unfortunately it is not great for road bikes but would probably be fine for mountain bikes. It seemed great for all the walkers and their dogs. The only information I could find about this path online were outdated from 2007 and mentioned the path being closed. Luckily it seems very much open with helpful signs and even paper maps.
Now the path mostly looks over tech companies but the area has an interesting history as well. This is the old Hughes Aircraft headquarters and warehouse where the Spruce Goose was made.
Riding out to the beach takes you past lots of condos and high speed roads with no bike paths but you also get this beautiful view of the Ballona Wetlands.
I grew up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles but wasn’t much of a hiker while growing up. My parents’ idea of the great outdoors involved staying in cabins and maybe doing a nature walk. I revisited the area recently and it looks like various groups have popped up to make the area’s trails more accessible.
The views are incredible as always and the tide pools and caves are fun to explore. The strange part about this area of Palos Verdes is that there are technically four cities so as you pass through trails they are in different states of accessibility and marking.
I also visited the Lake Balboa park in the San Fernando Valley but did not get any good pictures. I’m happy to see such large expanses of green space set aside for everything from picnics to model airplane flying. I have also revisited the Griffith Park area and note that the river bike and pedestrian path has been improved a lot in the last few years. You can even take a kayak down a portion of the river now. Get out there Los Angeles, and enjoy the seemingly endless perfect 70 degree days.