Hike a 2-mile loop at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Los Angeles

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in west Los Angeles is famous for its expansive views of Tinsel Town, but this urban park and landmark also offers a solid workout in its stairway and trail system. Take a 2-mile pseudo-loop in the 58-acre state park at sunset that gets your blood flowing and city views glowing!

Though there is a lot ($6/day) at the top, opt for street parking at the green space’s entrance and find the trailhead next to the concrete sign. There are actually a few options here, but we recommend taking the famous stairs up and the winding dirt path down … and then the dirt path up and the stairs down (for a complete double-loop)! Head east on the trail, already starting to get views of downtown, which soon u-turns and deposits you at the base of the stairs. The 282 steps are slightly uneven and climb 300 feet in about a quarter-mile, providing a gut-busting workout. The vistas become more and more phenomenal and are best enjoyed when you are catching your breath, perhaps among the many red toyon framing the stairs.

At the top, explore the meandering trails that traverse the chaparral. Look for interpretive signs talking about the area’s ecology, as well as the visitor center (when open, visit for cool historical exhibits) and the botanical garden area. There are multiple spots to snag some of the best panoramic views LA has to offer (and certainly west LA).

To the west, look for Santa Monica Bay and the Santa Monica Mountains, which are especially beautiful during a serene sunset. The east offers up the downtown skyline framed by the hulking San Gabriels, as well as the hills and oil derricks of Kenneth Hahn Regional Park (another local gem with epic views). Look north to find Griffith Observatory and the iconic Hollywood Sign beyond the urban jungle of mid-city. Talk about a unique spot for an Angeleno game of I Spy.

A scenic overlook, yes … but more appropriately a bona fide heavenly vista of the City of Angels. Soak it in before heading down, this time via the gradually switchbacking dirt trail for a different perspective on the park, and constant rewarding views. We recommend going around sunset for awe-bvious reasons.

To get to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park, from the east, take the I-10 to the Washington Blvd. exit. Make an immediate left onto Fairfax Ave., followed by a slight left onto La Cienega Blvd. Make a right at Jefferson Blvd., which takes you to the park (and street parking) in 1 mile. From the west, exit Robertson Blvd. and take a left onto Venice Blvd., followed by an immediate right onto National Blvd. After 0.7 mile turn right onto Jefferson Blvd. and, after another 0.7 mile, you will reach the park. No dogs!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik.

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