Forget Runyon Canyon:
Try These 7 Secret Hikes in LA Instead

by Wilder Shaw

March 25, 2015

original article on

generic water fall


Okay, you've been to Runyon. And Topanga. But there are other hikes in LA — ones with secret waterfalls, abandoned Nazi compounds, and horror movie-style abandoned mansions. Where? Well...

Corral Canyon Backbone Trail

Jeff Turner

Corral Canyon's Backbone Trail


Distance: 2 miles (the entire Backbone Trail is actually 12.2 miles out and back)

One thousand acres of the Santa Monica Mountains make up the Corral Canyon loop, but take the segment of Backbone Trail that leads you to Corral Canyon Cave, aka Morrison’s Cave, where Jim Morrison used to write. There's a zen rock spiral at the base of the cave formation left as a tribute to “The End” and Morrison.

Sycamore Canyon Trail

Colleen Greene

Sycamore Canyon Trail


Distance: 2.4 miles

Want some privacy on your urban hike? Sycamore Canyon in Whittier is still basically undiscovered, so you won't be crowded by tons of dog-walkers/yogis/dog-walking yogis. Bonus: the stream here runs all year long, and you can camp in the center of the park.

Wisdom Tree Hike

Eugene Kim

The Wisdom Tree Hike

Griffith Park

Distance: 3 miles

Sure, you've done the hike that gets you close to the Hollywood Sign, but continue up Beachwood Canyon past that trailhead to find The Wisdom Tree. Be warned — the hike is long and steep — but your reward's at the top, where you'll find the tree itself (which looks JUST LIKE the one from Six Feet Under), as well as ammunition boxes full of notebooks in which you can leave your own wisdom before you leave. Also, yes, the tree has its own Instagram account.

Murphy's Ranch Trail

Ezra Edmond

Murphy's Ranch Trail


Distance: 3.85 miles

Perhaps the most-discussed but still awesomest of all these hikes, the Murphy's Ranch Trail takes you through an ABANDONED NAZI COMPOUND that's nestled in the middle of the mountains. The dummies that thought Germany would win and come take over America built a little sanctuary here, which is fairly awesome: your inner Indiana Jones will geek out over engine parts, crumbled huts, and even an overturned '40s VW Bus nestled into the woods.

Grotto Trail

Puck 90

The Grotto Trail


Distance: 3 miles

Looking for awesome hidden stuff? Look no farther than The Grotto Trail up Yerba Buena Rd. You’ll trek through waterfalls, caves, crazy boulders, and... well, grottos. And to top that all off, when you're done, you can talk about your adventures at very-nearby Neptune's Net.

Solstice Canyon Loop

Alyse & Remi

Solstice Canyon Loop


Distance: 3 miles

Alright, we told you about this place a while back, but we forgot to mention the secret thing that makes this loop hike so amazing — you'll hike through the ruins of a TERRIFYING ABANDONED MANSION.

Sunken City

Fever Dragon

Sunken City

San Pedro

Distance: 0.8 miles

It's worth a drive to San Pedro for this crazy hike, which will convince you that Atlantis is real: definitely don't ignore the No Trespassing signs and squeeze through the holes in the fence to find yourself at the site of what is basically a lost city. Yeah, definitely don't. Because if you did, you'd find the houses on this cliff, which fell victim to a huge landslide years ago, and you could climb around the ruins and check out some awesome graffiti.