Over spring break last year, I chose not to leave Los Angeles and instead decided to spend the week exploring the city in which I studied. My father flew out from California to join me and, using the Birnkrant residence hall as our home base, visited tourist sites throughout Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Beverly Hills, and the Santa Monica Promenade. My favorite part of the week though? That was hiking in Griffith and Will Rogers State Parks.
Before attending USC, my family and I hiked a great deal and made an effort to find neat hiking trails throughout Connecticut. Within my Boy Scout troop, I also spent plenty of time hiking and exploring the outdoors, and one of my favorite Boy Scout memories is hiking through downtown Boston. So, when my father suggested hiking to the Hollywood sign, I couldn’t refuse! After stopping quickly at Millions of Milkshakes to grab a pre-hike milkshake, my dad and I threw on our sunglasses and hiking shoes and began the 40 minute trek toward the Hollywood sign. As we climbed, the morning fog burned off, and the view of downtown Los Angeles slowly improved. After about 20 minutes of hiking, my father and I got our first good glimpse of the Hollywood sign and, to our astonishment, that the letters were offset from one another. When we looked at the sign from an angle, some of the letters blocked other letters, and the iconic Hollywood sign no longer appeared as it does in movies.
After snapping a few pictures, my father and I made our way to the top. To protect the Hollywood sign, hikers are not allowed to hike directly up to the sign. My father and I walked around the back of the Hollywood sign, climbing to an elevation higher than the sign and then coming down behind the sign. Peeking out between the letters of the Hollywood sign, we had a great view of Los Angeles and an even cooler, behind-the-scenes view of the sign.
Later on in the week, my father and I embarked on another hike, this one to Will Rogers State Park. For this hike, my father and I were joined by David Reich, a good friend of mine and a fellow engineer. The hike at Will Rogers State Park was interesting due to the assortment of paths we could choose to take. While all the trails had the same starting and ending points (the parking lot), each trail had its own level of difficulty and vantage point on the surrounding scenery. David, my father, and I chose the trail that took us to the highest elevation and gave us the greatest view of Los Angeles and Santa Monica. While the view was amazing, the best part of the hike was a small, steep section that took us to the look out. The trail had not been cleaned in a while, so, while we were busy climbing the steep slope, we also had to dodge branches from above and large rocks from below. As I whistled the Indiana Jones theme song, we leapfrogged over rocks and pulled back the branches to reveal the stunning view of the morning sun on Santa Monica and the ocean.
Los Angeles may be a large city, but LA does not lack unique hiking venues. So, when I need to relax or have a day off, I love grabbing a few friends and a water bottle and heading to a new, unexplored hiking spot to spend the day. For me, hiking makes LA seem more like home.