Little Loop and Lightscape

Hike Arcadia Wilderness Park in Los Angeles County and Visit the Arboretum

We’ve all been told that it’s important to appreciate the small things, and for hikers in Los Angeles, that’s a reminder to explore green spaces of all sizes—like the half-mile nature trail that meanders through the 8.5 explorable acres of the 120-acre Arcadia Wilderness Park (part of which actually extends into Monrovia). 

Hiker entering the hiking area at Arcadia Wilderness Park in Los Angeles County

Holiday lightshow at Los Angeles Arboretum and bright floral display

After a lovely drive through the eastern Arcadia suburbs, park in the large lot and look for the small trailhead on the right (south) side. The trail flanks the park’s nature center, a must-visit for every patron that features local fauna and a rock pond, as well as various interpretive displays. It’s a great way to learn more about the wildlife (and more) of the San Gabriels, which loom overhead. 

Person sitting at a picnic table overlooking the mountains at Arcadia Wilderness Park in Los Angeles County

The path also passes a small archery range before leading to some surprisingly steep stairs. You quickly gain over 100 feet and are rewarded with fantastic views of the valley as well as the surrounding mountains and Clamshell Canyon. The terrain changes throughout the hike, which makes it an awesome “teaser trailer” for the region—scramble on rocks, admire massive oaks and sycamores, and sit at a picnic table set at the northernmost point of the loop, next to a surprisingly green patch of flora. Pass through the campground (reservations required) and by a cement amphitheater on the way back to your car.

Holiday light display at Los Angeles Arboretum in Los Angeles County

Llghtscape at Los Angeles Arboretum in Los Angeles County

Holiday light display at Los Angeles County Arboretum for the Lightscape show

BONUS HOLIDAY LIGHTS: Head to the nearby Los Angeles County Arboretum for their new holiday lightshow for the 2021 season, Lightscape ($32 admission), which features a truly incredible variety of themed luminous displays throughout the garden, such as lotus leaves on the lake, a shimmering cathedral walk, a musically synchronized light show by the fountain, and the awesomely unique disco fern forest. It’s not to be missed!

To get to the Arcadia Wilderness Park, take the I-210 to the Santa Anita Ave. exit and head north for 1.5 miles, before turning right on Elkins Ave. After 0.4 mile, turn left onto Highland Oaks Dr. After 0.8 mile, you reach the Arcadia Wilderness Park and lot. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Berkeley's Backyard Waterfall

    Tucked among the hillside homes of North Berkeley is a winding stairway that leads to the “secret” entrance of a Narnia-like canyon with a 40-foot waterfall.

    View
  2. The Carson Show

    Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike. The start of th

    View
  3. Falls of the Wild

    Through the redwoods you’ll go on this adventurous 9-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. This hike is loaded with charms, but the big riches come from viewing Maple Falls, a 30-foot stunner that comes to life after rains.

    View
  4. Hood's New Trail

    Tucked just on the edge of Sonoma Valley near Santa Rosa, Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve has a brand-new trail leading up to a brilliant picnic spot with a panorama of Sonoma Valley all the way out to the ocean.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Can You Keep a Secret?

    The Southern Oregon Coast's Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor between Gold Beach and Brookings has so many sights to see, it’s hard to know where to spend your time. We like this trio of suggestions because you can do them as a three-in-a-row jackpot of coastal wonders.

    View
  2. Secret Trail at Torrey Pines

    Find cliff climbs, sandy strolls, and secret hikes throughout “America’s finest sandy stretch" at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

    View
  3. Ojai There!

    If a substantive and super scenic bike ride is right in your wheelhouse, do the 30-mile (round-trip) Ventura-to-Ojai bike path that begins (and ends) near the Ventura shoreline, pit stopping in delightful Ojai for food and drinks.

    View
  4. Fountain to the Falls

    There are three ways to reach the lovely Monrovia Canyon Falls, but only one of them is worthy of being named a good challenge!

    View