Dog Heaven

Dog-Friendly Hiking in Will Rogers State Historic Park

Will Rogers once said, “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” So it’s fitting that Will’s 186-acre Pacific Palisades ranch, preserved as Will Rogers State Historic Park, is heaven on earth for dogs, not to mention people and horses.

In fact, the 2-mile round-trip loop trail to Inspiration Point almost always sees a steady parade of proud pooches and their leash-bearing owners. It’s one of the most convivial hikes in Greater LA, with plenty of places to picnic, park on a bench, and to stop and smell the, uh, ceanothus. The trail starts opposite Will’s showcase stable just uphill from his ranch house. Bear right as you draw near the stable and you’ll find the trail on your right when you reach his old carpenter’s shop. As the path winds gradually uphill, you’ll enjoy alternating views of the Palisades out to the ocean, or various inland cityscapes, including Century City and downtown LA. In the foreground are hilltop fantasy houses to ogle. But think about it: At this moment, what do they have that you don’t?

Inspiration Point is halfway along the trail and the apex of a gentle 320-foot elevation gain. It’s a great place to water the hounds and let them make friends as you enjoy being inspired. The return leg of the loop descends a chaparral-covered slope with views of Will’s old polo field, the ranch house, and the huge lawn that fronts it—verdant acres for picnicking and frolicking in Will’s dog heaven.

TIP: Docents and rangers lead tours of the Will Rogers ranch house Thursday through Sunday. No matter when you come, be sure to watch the short film in the visitor center. It gives you a quick life story of the beloved cowboy-actor-humorist-writer-globetrotter who died in 1935.

Take Sunset Blvd. to Will Rogers State Park Rd. and turn north. The intersection is 3.8 miles east of Pacific Coast Hwy. and 4.7 miles west of I-405. Parking is $12, or free where permitted in the nearby neighborhood.

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