Temescal Canyon LoopTemescal Gateway Park lamountains.com Distance: 4 miles $7 parking. Free parking on Sunset and Temescal (watch the signs).
Located a mile inland from Pacific Coast Highway, Temescal Gateway Park is a very popular hiking spot for Angelenos. Walk the entire Temescal Canyon Loop or skip the ridge trail and go directly up the canyon to the waterfall and back (about 2 miles). The trail eventually leads to a little bridge (nice place to rest) and seasonal waterfall. At this point, you can continue further up the ridge for spectacular ocean views and hike up to Skull Rock (about half a mile) or return down into the shady, wooded canyon and complete the loop. If you’re with kids, I recommend skipping the ridge trail!
Los Liones TrailTopanga State Park everytrail.com Distance: 3-7 miles
This trail begins at the end of Los Liones Drive, just north of Sunset Blvd in Pacific Palisades. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the Mormon Church on your left. Free parking is to your right. The trail climbs through lush, riparian landscape until you reach East Topanga Fire Road. (For an easier 3-mile hike, walk to the fire road and back.) Continue on up to the left to Parker Mesa Overlook, where on clear days you can see all the way to downtown and out to Catalina Island. Note: gain in elev. — 1,300 ft.
Solstice Canyon LoopMalibu nps.gov/samo Distance: 6 miles
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, just north of Malibu, Solstice Canyon offers a pleasant, easy hike. Highlights include: a creek, 30 ft. waterfall, mysterious ruins, and ocean views. Take an easy walk along the paved Solstice Canyon Trail, heading down into the canyon, or opt for the more challenging Rising Sun Trail.
Climb the stairs to the Rising Sun Trail on the eastern edge of the canyon (but beware of sun on hot days, hence the name). There’s very little shade. A small stream runs through the canyon and you’ll eventually come to the two-tiered waterfall. Soak your feet in a shallow pool and feel instant relief from the Rising Sun.
Liz Laing is a writer, Web designer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest projects may be followed on LizLaing.com.