Tips for Hiking Runyon Canyon

By Heather

I’m kind of freaking myself out a little. It’s always awesome to expand your horizons, but it’s disorienting to look back at who you thought you were and realize you had it all wrong.

Camping is one of those horizons. Hiking has become another.

Since we took on the Hermit Gulch Trail in Catalina, I got the bug. In fact, I got the bug the first time because we did not reach the end of the trail. And dammit, I am going to reach the end of the trail. We went a second day and did not reach the end of the trail. But we are going in August and we will reach the end of the trail, so help me god.

Then there was Mt. Lee and getting to go behind the Hollywood Sign. And now, I’ve done Runyon Canyon twice.

In 2015, it’s going to get crazier. I’ve resolved to hike Half Dome (the cable route; I’m not a climber and never will be, and this is a horizon I never plan to widen). I’ve also resolved to try and get a permit to climb Mt. Whitney. And I can’t wait. I want to do it right now.

Who is this person? No, seriously. I’m feeling like a stranger to myself… in a good way.

Hiking Runyon Canyon

Much like the Mt. Lee/Hollywood Sign post, I’m mostly going to offer you tips for your time in Runyon so it will be useful, safe and trouble free. I approach the park from the Mulholland Drive side, so these tips refer to that.

  • Parking: Don’t bother with the lot on Mulholland Drive. There is no parking for you in there and I wouldn’t even try and wait in that line of cars. You will never get a spot. Ever. This, unfortunately, leaves you with street parking and it’s not much better. A large chunk of it is blocked off with tow-away signs. And you want to heed those, because the trucks come out five at a time to tow cars. They live for weekends in Runyon methinks. You also have to watch out for permit parking. I actually got a ticket a couple weeks ago because I was parked in a permit zone. I’m contesting it because the sign informing me of that was behind my car and facing away. How the hell is anyone supposed to see that?  The main thing to remember about Runyon is that parking here is hell on earth; you just need to brace yourself for it, breathe, be patient and you will find a spot. Eventually.
  • Hiking: When you come to Ruynon, you’ll pass through some gates, walk by a couple houses, and then the trail officially begins. No directions are needed. It’s a loop and you can take different routes, but they all converge at various points. No need to be concerned about getting lost. I suggest that when you come to the first fork in the trail after the houses, take the one to the right with the incline. If you continue straight, it’s all well and good, but there is a very long, very shaky, very nerve-wracking set of stairs that awaits you. If you go this other route, you’ll wind up climbing the stairs, and trust me, it’s much easier if you don’t. If you continue straight and take the stairs down, you will have to hike back up and it’s a very long uphill push.
  • Views and dogs: Whichever route you take, you will eventually get views of Downtown LA and surrounding environs. You’re also going to see a ton of dogs, and most of the trail is within an off-leash dog area. If you don’t like off-leash dogs, this probably isn’t your hike.
  • Celebrities: Runyon is rumored to be a popular place for porn stars to work out, if that’s your thing. I didn’t see anyone who looked Ron Jeremy-y. There are also supposed to be lots of celebrities, but I only saw one haggard-looking Real Housewife once (Oh, I also might have seen BJ Novak. Just saying, don’t get your hopes up for anyone A-list). Also, I have found it to be true that if you’re looking for celebrities, you will never see them. Let go, young grasshopper, and they will come to you.