Little Loop and Lightscape

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

Hiker looking out to the mountains at Arcadia Wilderness Park in Los Angeles County

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

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