Growing up in Colorado gave me the opportunity to develop a deep love for the outdoors through hiking, climbing, and skiing. When deciding on a college, I knew access to the outdoors was essential to my college experience. At first glance, USC seems purely metropolitan and isolated from outdoor opportunities, but in reality Los Angeles offers a plethora of amazing outdoor trails and areas. The outdoors are an excellent way to relax and reflect while balancing an engineering course load. While there are many gems near USC, I have compiled a short list of my favorite spots.
1. Angeles National Forest
About an hour from campus, this incredible 700,000-acre pine forest offers a remarkable variety of hiking opportunities. With over 100 trails, you are bound to find some hikes that match your desired difficulty and length. For more of a challenge, the Baldy Bowl Trail is one of the most iconic hikes in Los Angeles and leads to the 10,070-foot summit of Mt. San Antonio. If you’re not into hiking or backpacking, fishing and fossil hunting are also great options to explore in this area.
2. Griffith Park
This city park (as seen in “La La Land”) offers relaxed hiking just 15 minutes from USC. Despite being embedded in the city, the land has been left relatively untouched. Visitors can see the natural canyons and wildlife of the area as well as breathtaking sunset views of the city. Interestingly, the park is home to a mountain lion named IP-22, which is one of the only big cats to live inside a major city! While you probably won’t see IP-22 (mountain lions are notoriously shy), you may see mule deer, grey fox, or even unique species of butterflies.
3. Palos Verdes
Just 30 minutes from campus, Palos Verdes offers incredible hiking along the peninsula with access to secluded and quiet beaches. Specifically, the shipwreck trail offers a beautiful panoramic view of the cliffside as well as the opportunity to see the remains of a wrecked Greek freight ship from the 60s. Whether you want to spend the day exploring tidal pools or catching up on homework by the beach, Palos Verdes is a beautiful site to see.
If you’re looking to explore more of California and beyond, I would highly recommend signing up for an SC Outfitters or Peaks & Professor’s trip. As an SC Outfitters guide, I have found these trips to be a great way to forge new friendships while exploring our lovely surroundings.
I hope you have fun exploring the beauty surrounding Los Angeles while at USC!