Discovering Los Angeles Through Its Outdoor Spaces

October 23, 2016

I arrived in Los Angeles two days after my visit to San Francisco and decided, yet again that a hike was needed to fully introduce myself to the city. A photographer friend of mine had shown me pictures of the impressive Griffith Observatory a few weeks before. After a bit of research, I discovered that the 4,310-acre park was one of the largest urban parks in America. As a committed outdoor adventure seeker in my hometown of New York City – I was intrigued and ready to explore nature in another urban center.

The first major challenge I faced was getting to the park. The city of Los Angeles is massive, spread out, and connected by a series of highways. I thought I would get ahead of traffic by leaving at 3:00 PM in the afternoon, which I later learned was the apex of traffic in LA. Sitting in a car, burning fossil fuels as you wait to inch forward definitely seemed contradictory to my goal of connecting with nature. Yet, I stuck with it and after over an hour on freeways, I made it to the park. I grabbed water, a hat, and my cell phone and headed up from the parking to the chosen trail for the day that would bring me to Glendale Peak (with views of the Griffith Observatory).

You know that you’re both there because of a shared passion and that your time in nature is a happy one, and not rushed as it is on the way to or from work.

When I stepped off the concrete and onto the dirt trail, I immediately saw a warning sign for rattlesnakes and sun exposure. The heat of the day and the dusty trail had already started to seep into my skin at that point so I knew which danger seemed more present. A large part of the trail was on wide fire roads, meaning that though the hike was on an incline, the actual path was level, allowing me to focus on the views rather then navigating rocks or roots underfoot.

I walked along enjoying being outside and “away.” Views of LA’s downtown loomed in the distance, but on the trail surrounded by nature I felt I was in another world entirely. And though I was hiking by myself, I was not alone on the trails; runners, families and other groups passed me.

Passing someone on a hiking trail is never the same as passing someone on the street. You know that you’re both there because of a shared passion and that your time in nature is a happy one, and not rushed as it is on the way to or from work. People said hello, smiled, and the collective energy made the trail feel even more alive.

Discovering Los Angeles Through Its Outdoor Spaces


Sweaty and dusty throughout the hike, I made my way past an idyllic looking bridge, alongside a graffiti sign-post, and to the high point of Glendale Peak which allowed for views of the Griffith Observatory. After a mostly downhill hike back to the car, rattlesnake and dehydration free, I slowly made my way out of the park. I was back to the freeways, the traffic and the people who didn’t really smile when you passed them. I hadn’t left the confines of the city of LA that afternoon but the scrub brush and the open trails offered a different set of views, a different demeanor of people, and a different LA.

About Sarah Knapp

Sarah L. Knapp is Brooklyn-based adventurer who has traveled to the summit of Africa, the countryside of Belarus and the ski slopes of Patagonia. Her love for the outdoors and belief that adventure is just a mindset led her to create OutdoorFest, a ten day festival to spread the excitement of local adventure throughout her hometown.

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