Reasons to Love Running in Los Angeles

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You know the tired cliché: nobody walks in Los Angeles. Why not? Because it’s way more fun to run. L.A. occupies a vast 466-square-mile swath that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the San Gabriel Mountains, which rise thousands of feet above the cityscape. In between are countless urban routes, trails, parks, and paths that weave together L.A.’s unique neighborhoods and form a sun-soaked playground for runners.

“We have so many different vibes,” says Kate Olson, founder of L.A. Running Connoisseur, an online guide to the city’s running scene.


Olson has lived and run in Los Angeles for more than 12 years, and she has experienced firsthand how the city’s varied terrain, diverse population, and enthusiastic running community create a truly epic place to run. We recently talked with her to get her recs for must-do routes, notable running events, and key resources. Consider this your invite: step into the sunshine and get ready to discover why everyone runs in L.A.


Runyon Canyon: Perhaps the most famous trail in Los Angeles, Runyon Canyon is a killer workout and an excellent place for people-watching. Road runners can ascend the paved fire road for an out-and-back adventure of 2.8 miles, and trail runners can follow a rugged three-mile loop that circles the park. It’s also a great place for dogs, with an off-leash area on a section of the paved road.

The Hollywood Sign: “Everyone wants to run behind the Hollywood sign,” says Olson, and getting to the iconic landmark comes with a bonus experience: exploring the 4,200-acre Griffith Park, one of the largest municipal parks in North America. Olson suggests a three-mile out-and-back along the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail. This route features sweeping views and a stop at the Wisdom Tree (a lone pine growing atop a prominent peak) before topping out just above the Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood Reservoir: Not into climbing? Head to the Hollywood Reservoir for a paved 3.3-mile loop around a large body of water. In addition to panoramic views of the city and the Hollywood Sign, you might spot some local wildlife—Olson recently encountered deer while running here.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook: This state park is an island of wilderness in the middle of West L.A. Start at the trailhead on Jefferson Boulevard and make a one-mile switchbacking ascent to the overlook’s 500-foot peak. Once there, you can enjoy 360-degree views of the city, including downtown skyscrapers and the Pacific Ocean. For more mileage, continue on trails to explore the adjacent Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.

Marvin Braude Bike Trail: This is L.A., so a trip to the beach is required. Get your fix while jogging on this 22-mile paved trail—specifically the Santa Monica to Venice Beach segment. You’ll pass under the Santa Monica Pier (mid-run Ferris wheel ride?) and run through the famed Muscle Beach bodybuilder hangout. Pro tip: Make a pit stop at the Venice Beach Skatepark to watch skaters pull off all kinds of aerial stunts.

Los Angeles includes a vast variety of routes to entertain every kind of runner. (Photo: Getty Images)


CicLAvia: This recurring series of events closes L.A. streets to car traffic and opens them to pedestrians and cyclists—an ideal way to explore new neighborhoods and see the city from a different perspective. Recent editions showcased South L.A. and Venice Boulevard, and each route has sitting areas with food and drink vendors, so you can stop for a mid-run snack.

Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Sunset Run: You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate this event. Dodger Stadium, set amid the hills of Elysian Park, is one of L.A.’s most notable landmarks, and this race series (there’s a 5K, 10K, and kids’ run) is a great way to experience it. The event is held at sunset for incredible views of the stadium, city skyline, and surrounding parkland.

Homeboy 5K: For more than 30 years, Homeboy Industries has helped formerly gang-affiliated and incarcerated people get back on their feet. This fun race, held in Chinatown, near downtown L.A., is an excellent way to support the group’s work and explore a unique corner of the city.

Los Angeles offered every kind of terrain from mountain trails to coastal paths. (Photo: Getty Images)

Local Resources


Keep It Run Hundred: Olson loves Keep It Run Hundred for its welcoming, beginner-friendly atmosphere. The group hosts weekly runs in Inglewood and Culver City and places a special emphasis on supporting underserved communities in South Central L.A.

New Basin Blues: Running with New Basin Blues is a must for anyone who’s trail curious. This club explores the best dirt routes in the L.A. region. All levels are welcome at their weekly runs on Thursdays and Sundays.


Run With Us: Olson is a big fan of this independent running store in Pasadena thanks to its weekly group runs and top-tier apparel. “I am obsessed with their sock collection,” she says.

New Balance Stores: Browse the latest apparel, get your feet scanned and fitted for a pair of shoes, or meet up for a guided run at one of New Balance’s two L.A. retail locations. (There are storefronts in Brentwood and Santa Monica.) They’re the perfect launching points for diving into the city’s running scene.

Independent since 1906, New Balance empowers people through sport and craftsmanship to create positive change in communities around the world.

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