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Riggins look over the spine at Runyon

Riggins look over the spine at Runyon

Happy National Dog Day!  On such a wonderful holiday I thought I’d give you the lowdown on the different hikes the dogs and I enjoy in Los Angeles.

General Hiking Rules of the Road –

  • There is only one hike in the area that allows dogs off leash and that is Runyon.  In all others it is illegal to keep your dog off leash.  Do as I say not as I do.  You know my theory on off leash hiking.  To simplify my thoughts, “I like it.”  Generally dogs are better behaved off leash and can take their time sniffing and having fun.  I especially like it for Riggins since he can run from shady spot to shady spot and hang out there until I catch up.  Of course, if your dog isn’t use to hiking or doesn’t have a rattlesnake vaccination (during season). or is prone to foxtails (during season), or is aggressive to dogs/human on/or off leash then keep your puppers tethered to you.  If you want your dog to learn to be a better hiker than I suggest going with friends with dogs.  Dogs in packs tend to look out for each other and will help keep the novices in-line.
  • Hike with a friend.  This is especially true for any path that may not be that populated.
  • It may be the Girl Scout in me but I like hikes where the folks on it say “hi” or “good morning.”  Almost everyone I say “hi” to and smile at returns the gesture.  This is true for all hikes except Runyon.  Runyon is a Hollywood gathering and you can expect minimal hiking niceties.  A smile and kind words also tends to disarm folks that may be judging me for allowing Riggins off leash.
  • Just like in a car those going up hill have the right of way.
  • Always bring water.  Even if you are expecting a short hike that has water available.
Lousy and Lordy take a time out in the shade at Runyon

Lousy and Lordy take a time out in the shade at Runyon

#1 – Runyon Canyon.  This is every dogs favorite.  It has been described as Disneyland for dogs.  There are three main paths (although one is technically private property).  The paved road (in the middle), the stairs (to the east) and the spine (to the west).  Riggins and I tend to go down the paved road and up the spine.

Good things:

  • Legally your dog can be off leash in the marked areas.  That ends up being most of the paved road and the stairs.
  • Lots of people so you don’t need to bring a friend to remain safe.
  • Lots of dogs which is always fun.

    Snowbell runs down a hill at Runyon

    Snowbell runs down a hill at Runyon

  • Multiple path options allows you to make the hike hard, really hard, are crazy hard, depending on what kind of work out you are looking for.

Bad things:

  • Not the nicest fellow hikers.
  • Parking can suck.  Go early.
  • No bathrooms.  Admittedly I’ve ducked behind a bush more than once.

Dog friendly:  Super dog friendly since it is a dog park.  You will see a few dogs off leash on the private road and most dogs off leash on the spine even though both of these areas are technically on leash.

Lousy leaps for joy at Runyon

Lousy leaps for joy at Runyon

Keep alert if you buck the system as rangers do ticket here.

#2 – Elysian Park.  Despite what I wrote in my post about this area it has become one of my personal favorites.  Just stay on the “nice loop.”  It’s not difficult and is almost more of a “walk” than a “hike.” My suggestion is to park at the Grace E. Simmons Lodge parking area (there will be signs directing you there).  Once parked you will see a street that is blocked off above where you parked.  Take that to the trail head (or at least one of the trail heads).  Once on the trail just go left at any fork in the road.  You will end up down at the street you took to get to the Lodge.  From there it is a short walk on the road to your car.

Good Things:

  • Near the 1/2 point there is an oasis that includes water for the dogs.
  • Bathrooms can be found in the park at the beginning and end of your hike.
  • Lots of trash cans along the path so you don’t have to carry that dog poop long.
  • Great views of the Echo Park, Glendale, Burbank, etc.
  • There are a number of smaller paths that connect to the main path making it easy to cut your walk short if need be.

Bad Things:

  • Traffic.  During Dodger games or morning commute it will be a pain to get to the hike.

Dog friendly:  Very.  There are lots of dogs and most will be off leash.

#3 – Griffith Park.  There are lots of hikes in Griffith Park but my favorite is the one tha

Riggins, Bear, and Jax look out toward the Hollywood sign at the observatory

Riggins, Bear, and Jax look out toward the Hollywood sign at the observatory

t goes from Fern Dell to the observatory.  Park near the Trails cafe and walk past the kid’s playground.  There you will find two paths.  Take either.  They go the same place.  The one to the right is a tiny bit shorter and a tiny bit easier.

The Good:  

  • It’s just fun to end up at the Observatory!
  • There are bathrooms at the top and bottom.  You can also refill water for you/dogs at the top.
  • If you want to extend your hike just walk to the back of the parking lot and you have access to miles and miles of more trails.

    Shug makes her way up the path to the observatory in Griffith Park.

    Shug makes her way up the path to the observatory in Griffith Park.

  • If you want to take pretty pictures then pass up your car on the way back and take the little Fern Dell walk by the stream.

The Bad:

  • Be cautious if you allow your dog off leash.  I can admit those that it makes unhappy are technically in the right.  I put Riggins walking leash on that has a short “leash” attached to it so I can easily grab him if I come across a pack of kids or others that are fearful of dogs.
  • The observatory can get crowded during certain parts of the day.  I suggest going early before it opens to the public so you can wander around at the top with less trouble navigating around folks.

    Riggins and Kona pose in front of the Observatory.

    Riggins and Kona pose in front of the Observatory.

  • If you throw caution to the wind and let your dog off leash remember to put him/her back on before you get to the top and/or the bottom.  Both are very public areas and full of children and cars.
  • Depending on the time of day you will either have a good amount of shade from the surrounding mountains or none.  Be prepared for it to be sunny and hot.

#4 – Hahamonga Watershed Park – Sweet little park that, per it’s website, is the home

Asscher takes a breather near the soccer fields at Hahamongna Watershed Park.

Asscher takes a breather near the soccer fields at Hahamongna Watershed Park.

to 22 miles of hiking trials.  I’ve done *maybe* 6.  Pick a path and go.  I assume you can get to the Rose Bowl from here I just haven’t figured it out.

The Good:  

  • It’s kinda cool to walk past JPL.
  • Lots of open space and a number of trails.
  • Super easy and lots of parking.

The Bad:

  • There are horses here.  If your dog, like Riggins, think horses are the devils ride, then keep your eyes open.
  • This is a disc golf field.  There are lots of folks playing frisbee … very seriously.  I suggest
    Dexter and Riggins ham it up for the camera at Hahamongna Watershed Park.

    Dexter and Riggins ham it up for the camera at Hahamongna Watershed Park.

    keeping out of their way.

Dog friendly: Yes.  Although, like all the hikes, keep your eyes open for rattlesnakes.  Most dogs will be off leash.

#5 – (Beyond the) Rose Bowl Loop I usually skip the Rose Bowl part of the Rose Bowl loop and instead take the dogs to the path that starts above the Bowl and goes around the golf course.  It’s not hard to find.  While most folks loop back around the Rose Bowl head the other way and you will come upon a more secluded path.

The Good:  

  • It’s an easy hike.

    Dragon and Riggins hang out on the trail beyond the Rose Bowl loop.

    Dragon and Riggins hang out on the trail beyond the Rose Bowl loop.

The Bad:

  • Heads up as it is possible that a stray golf ball will come flying towards you.

Dog friendly: Yes.  Some dogs will be off leash.  This is one that I actually keep Riggins on leash the entire time.

#6 – Echo Mountain – Park at the top of Lake (in Pasadena) and take the path up to the ruins of the Mount Lowe Railroad and Echo Mountain Resort.  If you want to go crazy you can continue on to Inspiration Point.

Riggins among the ruins on Echo Mountain.

Riggins among the ruins on Echo Mountain.

The Good:

  • The historical part of this hike is really fun.

The Bad:

  • Make no mistake you are hiking “up” a mountain.  It’s not a difficult path but it is up!

Dog friendly:  Yes.  Some dogs will be off leash.

#7 – Eaton Canyon.  A popular and fun hike that ends at a waterfall.  A bit of a surprise for the Southern Californian!  You can park at the

nature center area or skip some of the hike by driving up the street and parking near the second entrance.

Clover loves the waterfall at Eaton Canyon.

Clover loves the waterfall at Eaton Canyon.

The Good:

  • Water is always fun.  It also gives you a nice place to get your toes wet before heading back.  I also force the dogs to get wet so that the hike back isn’t so hot for them.

The Bad:

  • In summer expect lots of crowds.  This spot becomes a public wading pool.
  • The beginning/end is full of people and can be hot and sticky.
  • 1/2 the path zig zags back and forth over the stream.  It becomes a bit of a balancing act.  I am always more pooped than I think I should be
    Chloe dives in at Eaton Canyon.

    Chloe dives in at Eaton Canyon.

    after this walk.  I assume it is the extra core workout from trying to keep from falling into the water!

Dog friendly: Yes but keep in mind that there are a lot of people.  A few dogs will be off leash but not many.  I suggest going early to try to miss the crowds.  I tend to keep Riggins on leash until we get to the water and rocks and then let him free.  I have a much better chance of keeping up right if he isn’t pulling me along!

There you go!  The 411 on the paths near LA that we frequent.  If you see me say hi!

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