Memorial Day weekend is known for getting outside and savoring the unofficial start of summer with family and friends. It was an unseasonably overcast and cool three day weekend in Los Angeles. Not the best beach weather, but the perfect weather to grab my dogs and hit the trails.
Los Angeles has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, varying from easy walks to strenuous uphill climbs. La Tuna Canyon is closer to the latter. Parking next to the 210 freeway it doesn’t seem like much at first. The trail begins on asphalt and crawls alongside the bustling freeway. The sound of traffic is prevalent at first but dies out as you take your first turn onto the wide dirt path. Thankfully it was overcast because this trail lacks shade. In the heat of summer it would be brutal on me and my pups paws.
This trail is a butt and thigh burner of an uphill hike. I definitely felt it in my legs the next day. Just keep telling yourself the way home is all downhill. As I climb higher the scenery unfolds all around me. A beautiful desert landscape with bold rocks and ornamental grasses waving in the slight breeze. Lush pockets of green shrubs dotted with highlights of red cover the hillside. The trail weaves along and every once in a while you catch a glimpse of the freeway below reminding you you’re still in the city. One of my favorite things about Los Angeles is how close to nature you can be without ever leaving the city limits.
The trail is not crowded, even for a holiday weekend. I see some families out strolling together, couples hiking with their dogs, and a cyclist or two. I smile at the widely spaced groups of people and allow our dogs to greet before continuing on. The trail is big enough that you can easily enjoy the quiet of nature.
I consult my hiking tracker. Three miles in and I’ve climbed 1500 feet to an elevation of 2700. The houses look like tiny orange tic tacks from up on this bluff. The trail continues on much farther. If I keep climbing I could look all the way out onto Glendale. But my dogs and I are ready to head home. After a short water break, I make my descent. The sun peeks out for a brief moment as I think, “ahhh downhill. Feels like a reward.”