I had no idea that this park existed in the middle of urban Hollywood!
- Difficulty: Hard (steep!)
- Terrain: Pavement and dirt paths – some uneven in parts
- Length: 5km loop
- Flow: Excellent
- Scenery: A small canyon park with excellent city views from the heights
- Safety Issues: Off leash dogs – but all I saw were very well behaved
- Bathrooms: No
- Drinking water: Water fountains
- Transit Access: n/a
- Parking: Free street parking
- Night Access: No
- Special Features: Views of the iconic Hollywood sign
- Nearby Attractions: Hollywood Boulevard
As usual, on my arrival in a new location, I had looked on a map to try to figure out some good running spots. I was immediately drawn to two parks on the north side of Hollywood. Runyon Canyon Park and Griffith Park. Griffith Park is home to the famous Hollywood sign and also house Griffith Observatory. It’s the larger of the two but also has a lot more elevation gain. I looked at Runyon Canyon Park and realized that it was closer to where I was staying, had great views of the Hollywood Sign and while it had some good elevation gain it seemed more doable. I haven’t been running any major elevation and with a half marathon race planned in less than two weeks I didn’t want to kill myself!
It was December and pretty cold when I woke up but a good temperature for running, about 10C at 7am. The streets around Hollywood were pretty quiet at this early hour but as I approached the park I could see lots of joggers, hikers and dog walkers making there way in and out. It is obviously a popular early morning spot.
The trails are well marked, and I was immediately greeted by a water fountain, which is always a good sign! I chose to head left up a pavement path that twists up the west side of the canyon. It wasn’t too steep at first and I ran for quite a while before taking some walking breaks. It is all of 2km uphill. By halfway up I turned around and was rewarded by some amazing views of Los Angeles stretched out below me. As I neared the top I could see all the way to the ocean. The terrain of the park itself has a desert feel with some scattered trees pretty typical of southern California, and there is water in the center at the bottom of the canyon. There was no shade, which wasn’t an issue on a cold December morning, but it would be in the summer! In hotter months you were need to go early or later to avoid the direct sun.
This is an off leash dog zone, and there were a lot of dogs, but every one I saw was well behaved, and I never felt unsafe or even concerned. These are city dogs well used to their regular walk in the park; they know the rules and follow them.
Once at the top I could see over the east side of the canyon and was rewarded with a spectacular view of the iconic Hollywood sign. You could see from there all the way to the skyscrapers of downtown and the sprawl of city beyond. I took some pictures and contemplated the way down. I could see that there was a dirt path that led down the other side, but I really want to do some running and I was worried about obstacles, so I decided to turn around and go back they way I had come, taking the safe wide pavement path.
It was a lovely run and a great way to start my day in Hollywood before heading north to do the famous Warner Brothers Studio Tour.
We stayed at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which was wonderful, it has managed to maintain its old world charm while still being clean and comfortable. It also has an excellent central location right along the Hollywood Walk of Stars. It isn’t cheap, but we lucked out on a good deal at Hotwire.com so be sure to check the discount hotel sites to see if you can find a good deal.
It wasn’t the best run I have ever had. But I did enjoy the views and it was definitely an excellent travel run experience that I would highly recommend. Just be aware if you aren’t comfortable with hills, it may be more of a hike up and a run down.
I am told celebrity siting in Runyon Canyon Park are common, so keep your eyes out!