UPDATED FEB 14, 2020
Sandy beaches, rolling hills, and historic streets — LA has some pretty incredible spots for anyone looking to spice up their running routines. Whether you want to squeeze in a quick workout or rack up some miles, here are all the best places to run in the city.
From Adelaide Dr. to the Santa Monica Pier, Angelenos are treated to 26.4 acres of ocean-side (you’re parallel to Ocean Ave.) running bliss at Palisades Park. At just over a mile long, this stretch of city property lets runners enjoy dirt paths while taking in beautiful views of the Santa Monica Bay. And with plenty of shade (thanks to some 30 different types of trees and plants), getting in a good workout at Palisades Park is a breeze! Fitt Tip: Add more steps to your run by checking out the nearby Santa Monica Stairs off Adelaide Dr.!
One of the largest urban parks in the US and dishing out 53 miles of dirt routes between tons of interconnected trails, Griffith Park in Los Feliz is a long-distance runner’s paradise. With so much space, even the pickiest of runners will find a route here they enjoy. To top it off, you can hit up a number of nearby LA landmarks after a run here, including the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theatre, and the Hollywood Sign. So much room, so many activities!
Looking for a run with some elevation? Hit up Westridge Trail just off Mandeville Canyon Road in the Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park for a running path above the city and through the clouds. Both of the two main dirt trails—one gradual and winding, the other short and steep—are heavily trafficked, so expect to encounter plenty of friendly mountain bikers, hikers, and dogs along this route. And no matter if you’re going for a short or a long run, you’ll still be able to soak in magnificent views of DTLA and the Valley on clear days.
As part of the 22-mile network of trails in Arroyo Seco, the Rose Bowl Loop is a well-known running destination in Pasadena. This 3.3-mile-long loop not only offers runners spectacular views of the Central Arroyo, but it also provides a healthy mix of dirt and cement paths for use. Along the way, runners move alongside the famous Rose Bowl and the Brookside Golf Course. Flying golf balls will be the only potential danger, as the paved asphalt roads are clearly marked for runners/cyclists — no need to stress over LA drivers!
The Echo Park Lake Trail in (you guessed it) Echo Park serves as an urban track oasis to those wanting to get in some speed work. Measuring a mile, the Echo Park Lake Trail may be crowded with happy dogs and their companions, but it’s wide enough for you to still be able to kick up some dirt. Easily accessible and offering plenty of greenery and shade, what else could you ask for? Well, how about a water fountain spouting up three jets from the lake’s center that was installed for the 1984 LA Olympics? That will do!
Well south of the city in Rancho Palos Verdes, runners will find five miles of publicly-accessible, scenic trails in Ocean Trails Reserve. Park at either Ocean Trails Drive or La Rotonda Drive before hitting a network of 11 dirt trails. From hills to flat terrain, this spot offers up lush greenery to match the stunning blue views of the Pacific Ocean. Fitt Tip: Link Catalina, Sagebrush Walk (take a quick pit stop at the sand via Southshore Coastal!), Shoreline Park, and Gnatcatcher back to Catalina for a short and scenic looped path.
Coming in at a cool 600 acres, Elysian Park (the city’s second biggest park) in Central LA offers much of what other area locales do but on a smaller scale. Park at the corner of West Elysian Drive to access the West Loop, a 2.4-mile local favorite, dog-friendly dirt trail featuring a decent ascent that rewards the curious runner with picturesque views of DTLA and the Valley. It’s a short and sweet gem that’s hidden from LA, much in the same way Elysian Park is from the masses of the city!
The Strand winds with the coast along the Pacific Ocean, starting at Torrance County Beach and moving all the way to Will Rogers State Beach. You’ll get ocean breeze at your back, sea salt in the air, and a montage of people-watching as you hoof this flat, winding cement path to breathe in LA’s beach communities. From exploring the Santa Monica Pier to perusing shops on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, The Strand connects runners with several of Los Angeles’s coastal landmarks.
Want to work in a quick trail run, but the mountains are too far away? Well, Runyon Canyon Trail has you covered. Offering runners a 2.5-mile loop within Runyon Canyon Park, this running spot is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city (without having to travel too far). Dirt trails line rolling hills giving runners (and swarms of walkers and hikers) opportunities to elevate their running game. And panoramic views of DTLA and the Hollywood Sign reward those who make it to the top.
One of the oldest streets in the City of Angels, San Vicente Boulevard provides runners and drivers a way to share the road. With a wide and grassy median full of shade-giving trees dividing the boulevard into two, this spot lets runners do their thing in a safe and cool space away from notoriously bad LA traffic. It’s also four of the five final miles in the Los Angeles Marathon!
Home to the Bruins on UCLA’s campus, Drake Stadium grants runners a modern track facility ideal for year-round use. Sporting the public university’s signature blue, Drake Stadium’s 400-meter, nine-lane track allows runners to set their own pace and easily stick with it. A grassy field tucked within the track is great for stretching and cooling down, while the stadium’s stairs offer a wide range of possibilities for potential running workouts. Fitt Tip: Drake Stadium is often used by UCLA’s soccer, football, and track & field teams; check for hours of operation that are open to the public.
A stretch of paradise along Malibu’s public shoreline, this flat path is a great spot for runners who want to crank up the tunes, soak up some rays, and pound the pavement while watching the waves roll in. Stop by early in the morning or late in the evening for some unforgettable sunrise and sunset views. And if you want to make your run a little longer, you can continue east to Westward Beach or west up Broad Beach Road.
While the paved, looped path around Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley may not be the longest (it's just over a mile), it's ideal if a peaceful, lakeside run is what you're after. And there's lots more to do here than just run. After you've worked up a sweat, you can enjoy the park's multiple picnic areas, rent a pedal boat and cruise along the lake, or sit back with your fishing pole. But if you complete a few laps and feel up to adding a bit more mileage, you can easily connect to the nearby trails in the Sepulveda Basin or the Orange Line Busway bike route.
Get the latest news on LA’s fitness scene.