Top Dog-Friendly Hikes in SoCal

Top Dog-Friendly Hikes in SoCal

Top Dog-Friendly Hikes in SoCal

Even before the pandemic, hiking was a hobby. Maddie, though stubby-legged, has really built up her endurance to go from 2-3 mile hikes to 5+ miles! I’m detailing below 16 hikes that you can also bring your furry friend. Each heading will be hyperlinked to the AllTrails site for convenience – I love this app so much and use it for all hikes to track GPS, especially when there’s bad signal. While a majority of these hikes are rated as moderate, they’re very doable at 5 miles or under! Except Runyon Canyon, these hikes require your dogs to be on leash, HOWEVER, I have gotten away with having Maddie off leash in areas where there are no other hikers around. Just use your discretion.

Runyon Canyon

Location: North Hollywood, Los Angeles
Length: 2.7 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Street parking in the neighborhoods near the trail entrance – pretty difficult to find parking
Off-leash: Yes

Runyon Canyon is probably the most popular dog-friendly hike in LA. You’ll find hordes of people with their dogs, plus the occasional celebrity sighting. I used to go in the mornings until a friend of mine suggested a golden hour hike – and I would never go to Runyon at any other time. This is one of the few off-leash hikes around, so be sure to keep an eye on your dogs and pick up after them! There are multiple entrances to this trail and multiple paths you can take, but I’ve always parked near the N Fuller Ave entrance.

Wisdom Tree

Location: Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Length: 3.9 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Street parking
Off-leash: No

Sweeping views of Downtown LA, but you have to earn it! This is a pretty steep climb up to the tree with a very rocky and narrow path. Griffith Park is full of dog-friendly hiking paths, but this one is popular because of this single lone-standing tree at the peak that survived a 2007 fire in Hollywood Hills. Under the tree sits a green ammo box filled with journals, where hikers can leave notes with their thoughts, feelings, and any bad poetry.

Canyonback Trail

Location: West LA
Length: 3 miles (out and back)
Difficulty: Easy
Parking: Parking lot
Off-leash: No

When I lived in West LA for 4 years, this hike was a favorite. It was a relatively short 20 minute drive away, and the hike (though rated as easy) had enough hills that I still broke out a sweat. There is no shade at all.
*Caution: You can see from the pictures above that the paths are lined with foxtails. Be careful that they don’t get stuck to your dogs’ paws, fur, and inside the ears!

Tuna Canyon Trails

Location: Malibu
Length: 3.8 miles (out and back)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Small parking lot
Off-leash: No

This is a popular hike, which means the small parking lot gets filled up quite quickly. There are a lot of different paths you can take, some leading you down closer to the beach. The trail itself is pretty wide and there’s a lot of up and down hills, so get ready for a workout and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean! Near the lower end of one of the trails, there’s this odd formation on the ground made with rocks and pottery bits.

Escondido Falls

Location: Malibu
Length: 3.7 miles (out and back)
Difficulty: Easy
Parking: Parking lot
Off-leash: No

As pictured above…this trail can get muddy! Of course, you can definitely avoid the mud and go around it but once Maddie got wet just a little bit, she went crazy and got the zoomies. Overall, this hike is pretty well-shaded, though the waterfall at the end is kind of underwhelming. It just seemed kind of dirty. But, the weather is always great and you’re traipsing through the forest.

Piedra Blanca Formations Trail

Location: Los Padres National Forest
Length: 2.6 miles (out and back)
Difficulty: Easy
Parking: Parking lot
Off-leash: No

This hike is really fun! You have to cross multiple small streams (I’ve seen people trip and fall) to get to these really cool rock formations that you’re able to hop around on. Maddie would have been full on swimming through these creeks so I carried her across. Bring a quick drying towel to dry off your feet if you take off your shoes to cross the streams.

Helen McCoy Loop

Location: Chino Hills
Length: 3.1 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Parking: Parking lot
Off-leash: No

To think I lived in my hometown for 15 years and never once hiked this trail until my mid-20s. Chino Hills has a surprising number of trails behind homes that meander into some farmland. You start off parking at the Chino Hills Community Park and make your way up some decently steep hills with 360Β° views of the town. The trail levels out as you hit the last 1-1.5 miles and you’re walking along the main road in front of farms filled with horses, donkeys, sheep, and cows.

Hagador Canyon Trail

Location: Corona
Length: 4 miles (out and back)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Street parking
Off-leash: No

This one is my most recent discovery, and only a 20 minute drive from my parents’ place! South of the city of Corona is a forest where this trail is located. The starting point is really unassuming, as you park along the main street and walk down a paved road that’s right behind some houses. Then you need to hop over a short barrier, cross a bridge constructed from planks, and continue onto an unpaved road. When I was walking towards the mountains, I was reminded of Hawaii.

This hike follows along a babbling stream and has plenty of shade after about 1 mile in. There are multiple water crossings, and what sounds like a ton of bugs! I thought this was a very nice easy-to-moderate hike that Maddie loved immensely. I will definitely be making a couple more trips back out to this hike!

Potato Mountain

Location: Claremont / Mt. Baldy
Length: 5 miles (out and back)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Roadside parking
Off-leash: No

You read it correctly: Potato Mountain. I found this hike to be the toughest out of all the ones listed here for its length and straight uphill climb. Hikers will often bring a potato offering to leave at a big round metal platform at the peak, and some are really well decorated! My favorite was a Plankton potato πŸ˜€

Bear Flats via Bear Canyon Trail

Location: Mt. Baldy
Length: 4 miles – AllTrails says 3.4 but I’ve clocked in at 4 miles every time (out and back)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Mt. Baldy Visitors Center or Village
Off-leash: No

This hike can be a bit difficult to find since the first 1/4 of a mile is going up a road lined with cabins. The trail itself is very narrow at points, and you trek through switchbacks until you get to a clearing with a sign labeled Bear Flats. This hike is shaded almost the entire time except when you pop out the side of the mountain for spectacular views. I thought this hike was slightly easier than Potato Mountain because I prefer narrower forest trails, but my dad had a tough time!

Inspiration Point

Location: Angeles National Forest
Length: 4 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Mt. Baldy Visitors Center or Village
Off-leash: No

There are about a million Inspiration Points, but the AllTrails link states that this one is 10 miles out and back. I only clocked in 4 miles but when you’re walking through the forest at golden hour playing some feels good music, then there’s no way you wouldn’t feel inspired.

Big Horn Mine Trail

Location: Angeles National Forest
Length: 3.9 miles (out and back)
Difficulty: Easy (I would consider this to be moderate)
Parking: Parking lot (Adventure pass required)
Off-leash: No

This trail leads you to an abandoned mine, which has been closed since 1906. It’s named after the Bighorn sheep that still roam the area, though we didn’t see any. There’s hardly any shade so bring lots of water and wear sunscreen! There are also a lot of loose and sharp rocks, which I carried Maddie over that portion. You can climb up and explore the mine, even going inside if you wanted to. Be very careful at the edge of the cliff!

Portuguese Bend Reserve

Location: Palos Verdes
Length: 1-5 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Parking: Street parking is TERRIBLE. You’d have to get very lucky to park close to the trailhead.
Off-leash: No

This trail starts off with you going downhill (it’s a struggle to climb back up, frankly) and some paths lead to the beach. There are tons of different trails in this Reserve, so it’s easy to keep wandering around until you’re ready to head back uphill. Maddie had a hard time getting back up and collapsed in the shade when we were so close to our car! Note that parking is really tough as it’s a popular spot.

Sagebrush Walk Trail, Palos Verdes

Location: Palos Verdes
Length: 1.7 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Street parking
Off-leash: No

This loop is really popular, and there are many alternative trails you can take. This connects to the Rancho Palos Verdes Coastal Trail, which is 5 miles along the cliffs with paths onto the rocky beach below.

Pratt, Foothill, and Fox Canyon Trails Loop

Location: Ojai
Length: 3.1 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Street parking
Off-leash: No

I actually don’t remember this hike very well but as this is a loop, my friends and I had great views of these switchbacks before coming down them. Overall good hike! Check out the little village in downtown Ojai when you’re finished.

Saddlerock Trail

Location: Montecito
Length: 3 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Very small parking lot
Off-leash: No

You start off the hike by following a long fence, and then you move into the mountains. I actually got quite lost at one point and almost trespassed into the backyard of someone’s home. But then you’re scrambling across rocks until you get to the top, and there are multiple paths you can take to complete the loop. I don’t think I had very good signal, but I was able to rely on my AllTrails app to get the GPS. One of my favorites!

And there you go!

I’m always going to be discovering more dog-friendly hikes along the way, so you can bet this post will be updated as the steps are accumulated πŸ™‚ Hope you find this helpful!

xx Sam

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meee

LA β†’ Long Beach. Focusing on health, food, travel, and simple living

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