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7 Sensational Family-Friendly Hikes in Los Angeles

Updated for 2024

When most people think about Los Angeles they think of Hollywood or the beach. But the mountain ranges are beautiful and they have terrific hiking trails. In fact, there are many great places to go hiking in LA – with or without kids.

There are tons of great spots to hike in and around LA but we narrowed down a few trails that are especially family-friendly and really get you out in nature. You can find specific directions to the trail heads here with their lengths, what to expect, fun facts and extra tips to help you on your adventure. 

boy near waterfall
This is a spectacular hike you can do with your kids in Los Angeles

The 7 Best Hikes for Families in Los Angeles and SoCal

Does the thought of getting out in nature and breathing the fresh air bring you joy? Us too! Does the thought of doing that with a whining child complaining that their legs are tired and you have six more miles to go bring you dread? We get it.

Embarking on a hiking adventure with your children can be an enriching and memorable experience, fostering a love for nature and creating cherished family memories that last a lifetime – but it’s not without its challenges.

With some careful planning, patience, and a sense of adventure, family hikes can bring the joy you’re looking for. There’s something about being in the great outdoors that helps wash away any stress or anxiety both kids and adults may be feeling in our day to day lives and, with all the time that we spend on screens, this time is needed now more than ever.

Temescal Canyon Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades

This is a great hike for big and little kids. It’s easy to drive to as it’s just off of Sunset Blvd near Pacific Coast Highway and there’s plenty of parking. The park has wide, well-maintained trails that are perfect for walking, jogging with or without strollers, and hiking. There are bathrooms, a camp store, and a nice grassy area for picnics. It can get crowded on the weekend, but the farther you go on the trail, the less people you’ll see.

Solstice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains

This is a fun and beautiful 3-mile hike that the kids will love. There’s so much to see including the remains of the Matthew Keller stone cottage built in 1865 and the house that famed architect Paul Williams built in 1952. Both were destroyed in the 1993 Corral fire that also destroyed a test site for satellite equipment used in space missions.

There are also streams, small waterfalls (depending on what time of year you visit), and rocks to climb. Families with older kids can try Upper Solstice Canyon. The view is worth the hike.

Pro Tip: park in the Solstice Canyon Education Center parking lot. You’ll see the trail head from there, you can’t miss it. 

The trail will take you through the Malibu hills to a small waterfall and the ruins of The Keller House that’s fun to stop and explore. From there, the trail takes you up an incline that, while not too steep, can get a little tiring. Luckily, it’s not too long and you are repaid for your hard work with beautiful views of the ocean on the entire way down.

It can get popular on the weekend, so try to get there early. If you’re a parent of little ones you are up early anyways right? Take advantage of that fate and get an early bird parking spot before the crowds arrive.

2 young boys on Solstice Canyon Hike
These kids are having fun on a hike in Upper Solstice Canyon in Malibu

Red Rock Canyon

This trail is fairly flat most of the way along a fire road which makes it easy. You will soon find yourself surrounded by canyon walls and incredible rock formations jutting out from the lush Santa Monica Mountain landscape. Some of the sandstone boulders along the way can be fun for the kids to climb on including some small arches and little caves to crawl in and out of. 

2.4 Miles to Overlook (Out and Back) or 4.4 Miles to Calabasas Peak (Out and back), Old Topanga Canyon

Pro Tip: Start at Red Rock Canyon Park. There is a dirt parking lot near the trailhead.

The trail is also close to town in Old Topanga so if you hike early, you can make a day of it by exploring the adorable town and getting lunch at a place like Endless Color. 

Related: If you’ve got a 4th grader, you could go hiking in America’s National Parks for free through their Every Kid Outdoors program.

Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park

This is where we always take visiting relatives. The hiking here is great and there’s so much to do. There are mountain bike trails, rock climbing, a swimming hole, and even the remnants of the old M*A*S*H* television show set. 20th Century Fox owned a movie ranch there and Viva Zapata!, Love Me Tender, and Planet of the Apes were filmed at the park. The park is 4,000 acres with a mix of easy to difficult trails. 

3 Miles (Out and back). Park in the lot and follow signs for the Grasslands trail. 

This hike is all about family fun with a wide, flat trail that’s easy to journey on and takes you to an incredible rock pool, i.e. “swimming hole.”  After you cross a little bridge in the beginning, it’s a moderate walk along the creek. Make sure to veer left and follow the sign for Crags Road toward the Visitor’s Center (if you head right you will go by the “M.A.S.H.” TV show set which is another fun hike for another day). 

Soon you’ll see the rock pool which usually has a small crowd of people either swimming or rock climbing along the steep canyon walls. It’s fun to sit back and take a little snack or lunch break here. On a hot day, it feels great to dip your feet in, splash around or go for a swim.

kid on parent's shoulders on a hike
Sometimes our kids want to hike on your shoulders! Which only works while they’re still small…

Switzer Falls

Switzer Falls is on the Altadena side of the Angeles National Forest, which is 700,000 acres and spans from Santa Clarita to Fontana. The Switzer Falls hike is not a difficult hike, but there’s still a lot to see. You can start or end the hike with lunch at the picnic tables and then down the the trail to see Switzer Falls. Look carefully and you might see the ruins of a lodge near the falls. The hike is shady to begin and sunny on the way back.

Angeles National Forest mountains and clouds
View from the Angeles National Forest

Will Rogers State Park

Even if you’re not big hikers, Will Rogers State Park with its big, grassy fields, stables, and historic ranch house is a fun place to visit. Movie star Will Rogers and his family lived on the ranch until Rogers’ widow left the 31-room house and all the land including the stables to the state in 1944.

You can take a tour of the house, let the kids run around for a while or take a 2 mile hike on the Will Rogers Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you like polo, from May to September the public is invited to watch polo matches in LA’s last remaining polo field.

4 Miles (Loop). Park at Will Rogers State Historic Park by the polo field (fees will apply, and they go to our State Parks). Follow signs for Inspiration Loop.

There are actually several hikes within Will Rogers Historic State Park that are all recommended. The Inspiration Loop is fairly moderate which makes it easy for families. Along the trail, follow signs for Inspiration Point and enjoy stunning views of the ocean and Los Angeles (and wildflowers in the Spring).  At the peak, there are some benches so it’s a nice place to stop for a snack or lunch break and enjoy the view.

Will Rogers Ranch House (photo courtesy of the California State Parks)
Will Rogers Ranch House (photo courtesy of the California State Parks

Wisdom Tree (and Behind the Hollywood Sign)

Start at the Wonder View Trailhead for this 3.5 mile loop. Park on Lake Hollywood Drive. You will see the trailhead marker on the corner of Lake Hollywood Drive and Wonder View Drive.

This hike has great views and overlooks including a peek behind the Hollywood sign. Check out LA’s famous lone pine, The Wisdom Tree, planted by John Smirch 35 years ago when he won it in a McDonald’s contest. It miraculously survived the devastating 2007 wildfire that burned in and around Griffith Park. Angelenos go there to think, dream and find inspiration so stop and take a rest when you get there. The ascent is a little steep at times but still moderate and well worth it for the views when you get to the top.

Some Pro Tips for Fun Family Hiking

We highly recommend downloading the All Trails app. It has helpful user reviews, super specific directions AND most importantly, a way to download your route before you lose cell service. You can also rate and notate your hikes afterward which helps to keep track of your experiences so you don’t forget.

Wear hats, sunscreen and a light layer.

While there’s plenty of shade on the trails we’ve highlighted above, there are also a lot of spots without shade, so make sure to wear hats and sunscreen. If it’s cold in the morning, have everyone wear a light layer that will not take up too much space in a backpack when everyone (inevitably) warms up and needs to take it off.

Bring a carrier (If you have a toddler or child up to age 5)

For little, little ones we HIGHLY recommend you borrow, buy or rent a hiking carrier. You can actually find good deals for barely used carriers on resale sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor so give that a try first or ask a mom group if you can borrow one. If you don’t have one and find yourself stuck on the trail with a kid that won’t budge, putting your kid on your shoulders is way easier than trying to carry them in your arms. Try tag teaming/ taking turns with your partner so you both get breaks.

Pack water (duh) AND snacks

Obviously it’s a no brainer to pack water but make sure you pack enough for EVERYONE on the trip. Also make sure to have a few fun snacks* up your sleeve to give the kids a little boost when they are starting to get cranky. Snacks = the key to life.

Bring the FUN

Let’s face it, the kids are going to whine at some point when they get tired so it helps to keep their mind off of their agony (insert eye roll here) by playing games like; “Eye Spy,” “Follow the Leader” (make them laugh by walking in funny ways), “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” scavenger hunts, singing their favorite songs or playing “Name that Tune.”

Pack a small bag (maybe a little backpack that they can wear) with binoculars, a magnifying glass and little containers for collecting bugs and little treasures so they have some activities to keep them extra occupied.

Always check weather and fire conditions before heading out on a hike and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and food. Good luck and happy trails!

This post was originally written by Yvonne Condes, one of the original co-Founders of This post was updated by Maggie Tancred, a writer and mother of two working in kid’s content with the goal of helping others and bringing good into the world. You can read more of her writing at The Mother Co.

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