Five of The Best Off-Leash Parks and Trails in LA

Whether you want an easy hike or a sweaty trek, LA has the perfect trail for you and your dog.

By Jennifer Grant

Image: Casey Christopher

Going off-leash is a definitely in your dog’s top five favorite things to do. For one, it means the two of you have left the urban setting for the wide open and that brings freedom and so many interesting smells, unperturbed by city pollution. And it offers the opportunity to play in ways that are not permitted on-leash, like rolling in the dirt with other dogs and racing ahead of the pack.

If you live in and around Los Angeles, California, you must check out these top recommended off-leash opportunities for you and your pup.

Image: Barna Tanko

Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon is one of the favorite spots to meet up with celebrity doggys. There are over 90-acres of off-leash running to wear out even the most energetic of canines. The only downside that we could find is the parking. Tough to get a spot. Best to go early in the morning and approach from Mulholland Drive. It’s one of the city’s top hiking choices, which means there can be a lot of tourists. Again, go early.


A word of caution: bring your own water for yourself and your fluffer. There is only one water source and that’s just inside the main entrance at the end of North Fuller Avenue.


The Wisdom Tree at Cahuenga Peak

The Wonder View Trail was added to Griffith Park as a 3-mile trek (round trip) that is probably not for beginner hikers. The elevation is 872 feet and there are steep drop offs that can be dangerous to inexperienced hikers (both human and canine). The view is incredible, though…well worth the effort to get up there. Be sure to remember to bring water and be aware there is zero shade on this trail, which can be extremely hot for your dog, so mind the weather before you head out.

The Wisdom Tree at Sunset. Image: Flickr

A bit of history – the Wisdom Tree is the only tree that survived the 2007 Griffith Park fire, making it a significant and poignant photo op for your dog.

Image: Instagram/@raldaek

Solstice Canyon

In Malibu, this trail is rated “easy.” The trail is wide and level which allows for wheelchair access and bringing the kids.  You and your dog will enjoy a scenic walking tour past fascinating ruins and even a small waterfall. The whole trip is about 2.5 miles. There are old sycamores, alders, and oaks that will give shade or a beautiful spot to stop for a picnic.

The ruins of Roberts Ranch House. Image: Santa Monica Mountains Fund

You’ll find an interesting bit of history at the end of the trail as you discover the ruins of the Roberts Ranch House. The harmonious design was built by architect, Paul Williams, in 1952. Included in the design was a pump system that drew water from the pool in order to protect the home during a fire. Unfortunately, this was not maintained after Williams’ death and the home was lost during a wildfire in 1982.

Sullivan Canyon

Sullivan Canyon is a beautiful trail through Santa Monica Mountains. Image:

If you want to feel like you have been dropped into the wilderness, far, far away from city life, then Sullivan Canyon is the trek for you. It is 9.5 miles round trip and offers a sycamore-lined trail and a rest at the shores of a flowing creek. The trail is dirt and gravel, however, making it a popular spot for mountain bikers, especially on the weekend. Keep your dog close if you trek this one.

Escondido Falls

Tucked into the Santa Monica Mountains, this 3.8 mile round trip hike will get you close to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in LA. The Pacific Coast Highway is the start of the trail, which may look off-putting with its paved road access. But, very quickly, the road heads downhill to Escondido Canyon Park, a wooded area that is ready for everyone to enjoy.

The lower tier of the falls can be reached quite easily (50 feet), but if you are a more experienced hiker with a younger/fit dog, go for the upper tier (150 feet) because the view and the beauty are breathtakingly worth it.

Image: Kate K via Yelp

Are there any trails that you would add to this must try off-leash experience? Please add your reviews and recommendations in the comment section.