Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Before offering Morning Dog Hikes at The Crate Escape, I wanted to make sure I did my research to find the best dog-friendly hikes in the San Fernando Valley. A couple of hundred miles later I’ve narrowed it down to a few favorites that AREN’T Runyon Canyon. Nothing personal, just the amount of foot traffic at Runyon can really excite the dog pack on our hike. I have hiked these trails individually, with my dog (a chihuahua named Alfredo), and with a pack of dogs. When reviewing these trails I evaluated: length, foot traffic, elevation gain, parking, views, the width of the trail, and shade. I can confidently say, these are my favorite 4 hikes to take my dogs on in the Valley.
Length: 1.8 Mile
Trail Traffic: Lightly Trafficked
Elevation Gain: 396 ft
Parking: Residential Street Parking; I’ve never had a problem finding parking.
To me, this trail has it all. A quick hike with an incline and spectacular views. I normally start off at the top of the trail because the bird’s eye view of the Sherman Oaks & Encino valley floors are amazing, but there is residential parking at both the top and bottom. This is not a long arduous hike (look down the list for those), but a hidden gem that is lowly trafficked every time I’ve gone. My main complaint with this hike is that the trail itself is fairly narrow. If you walk this trail with someone, you will need to walk single file. This can be an issue if you have a highly reactive dog and have to walk past another hiker. I will also note, because of its seclusion there are multiple runners/bikers who have their dog follow them off-leash. There are a couple of steep areas but a determined novice could walk those parts slowly. This trail also offers flowering shrubs, birds, animal dens, I’ve even seen a bunny. The Sunsets here are pretty but would not encourage hiking much at dusk currently; there have been two recent mountain lion sitings (one on Cody, one on Mountaingate) over the last two months.
Aliso Canyon Park
Length: 3.4 mile
Trail Traffic: Lightly Trafficked
Elevation Gain: 370 ft
Parking: Parking lot, which sometimes fills up and closes at sunset. There is also some street parking.
This hike starts with a little picnic area and park leading to a small bridge to begin the trail. The trails are wide enough to pass other hikers with their dogs no problem and provide plenty of shade on hotter days. The main trail does have little breakaways to the left, which leads to residential homes and a dead end. I suggest staying to the right for a longer and more scenic trail. The trail is filled with different knick-knacks and art; there's a tree where little birdhouses are hanging off the branches. Aliso Canyon Wash runs beside the trail (mostly dried up) coupling with the tall trees to create an almost rainforest-like environment. The halfway point is located on a small bluff that overlooks Granada Hills, before it loops around and brings you back to the parking lot. There are a few points in this hike where it gets a little narrow, but overall one of my favorite hikes.
Length: 6.1 miles Traffic Level: Minimally Trafficked Elevation Gain: 1,450 (holy smokes!) Parking: Residential street parking
This hike starts out TOUGH. I mean most of that 1,450 ft elevation gain happens in the first mile tough. The good news is this type of challenge deters most, leaving the trail almost empty every time I’ve gone. You can also see very far in front and behind you, in case you do come across another hiker. The good news is, this steep elevation gain gets you some incredible views and lookouts almost immediately into the hike. The width of this trail’s walking path is my favorite thing about it. There is more than enough room for you, your dogs, and your significant other to pass other hikers and keep a good distance. The biggest downfall is the lack of shade in the front end of the hike. There are two picnic tables and a bench next to a tree that provides nice shade at the peak point of this trail, but when you are climbing that initial elevation it can get very hot, especially for your dogs. I recommend going in the morning. If you and your dog are up for the challenge, this hike offers stunning views of The Valley, Downtown, and on a clear day even the ocean.
Length: 2.6 Miles
Traffic Level: Medium-Heavily Trafficked
Elevation Gain: 456 ft
Parking: Parking lot, but is usually full and street parking is mostly permitted.
This is definitely the most popular hike on the list and definitely the most difficult to find parking. Every time I’ve gone (including peak hour) I’ve been able to snag a spot, but be warned the surrounding neighborhood streets are all permit parking. If you do end up parking a couple of blocks away on the street, make sure to begin the hike on Iredell Lane, the end of the trail. This trail does not loop around, but you can cut through the neighborhood back to the parking lot, which a lot of people do. I do not because there is not ample sidewalk for your dogs on the way back. Most of the hike has a nice wide trail that is well maintained (and part of it paved). The asphalt can be a little hard on your back when you’re going downhill. The trail is nice and wide but is frequented by groups of hikers, so it can get a little congested. If you have a highly reactive dog, this environment may be overstimulating. The views of this hike are nice, but there is no real scenic overlook, as compared to the others on this list. Overall, this hike is perfect as a trendy activity, but not one to go on if you want to be close to nature.
Hiking provides natural stimulants for your dog, connecting them to their pack roots. It is important to pick a hike that is suitable to your dog’s energy level and temperament. Continued exploration and socialization help your doggie live a well-rounded and engaging life; resulting in a happier dog at home. If you don’t want your dog to miss out on enjoying the delights of nature with a group of doggie friends, please reach out to The Crate Escape to get your dog signed up for our morning hikes!