Yesterday was Modern Hiker’s 7th Anniversary, which a). is pretty cool and b). makes this web site ANCIENT in internet years.

Right now, I’m a bit light on the updates but for a good reason – I’m going through ALL of my hike write ups and updating everything – adding more photos, clearer directions, and lots of other good stuff that will debut when the site’s new design goes live. The end is in sight and I’m burning some midnight oil to try to get the new site up and running as soon as possible … but before it does go live, I’ve got some good news for you!

For the past few months, I’ve been writing essays for the Sierra Trading Post‘s Social Hub as part of #TeamSierra. I’m writing with some really excellent folks, including a few old friends from the inagural Columbia OmniTen group. The pieces run the gamut from exercise tips to adventure tales to how to snowshoe with dogs and I will say I’m pretty proud to be in such good company. They’re also letting me write a bit more philosophically than I usually do for this site with entries about hiking in silence and rejecting the consumerism of Black Friday in favor of backpacking. That’s all of our beautiful faces down below:


Now, in honor of this site’s seven amazing years on Planet Internet, Sierra Trading Post will give one lucky person a $100 gift certificate to use before December 17th at midnight!

All you have to do is leave me a comment here answering this question: What’s the moment you first fell in love with L.A.’s great outdoors? Was it a hike you read about here, a great view that made it all “make sense,” your first view of the snowy San Gabriels, or maybe a chance encounter with some wildlife?

Leave your entry in the comments below (and be sure to use your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win!). I’ll pick my winner by 5PM Pacific this Sunday and email the $100 code to you.

And while you’re waiting,the Post is also offering a 30%-off discount to Modern Hiker readers from now through midnight on December 17th! All you have to do is head over to the Sierra Trading Post from here and use the code SHUBTS0513 at checkout. Super easy!

Thanks again to everyone who’s read, shared, commented, and hiked with me over the past 7 years. Here’s to the next 7!


Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor at Modern Hiker
In addition to writing about the outdoors, Casey is also a seasoned television producer.He was the Head Writer on G4's "Attack of the Show," co-writer and host of "The MMO Report," and the Series Producer / Head Writer of pivot's "TakePart Live."

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This post was written by Casey Schreiner on December 11, 2013


  • David says:

    Thanks for the wonderful blog.

  • rb says:

    The traffic here has turned an appreciation for the wilderness into an almost pathological need to get there. I have found myself making a U-turn on several occasions, or getting off at the nearest exit, and literally heading for the hills. In New York I could walk and walk, lose myself in the crowd, ride my bike in circles around the park. And still the rain on the sidewalks was charming, the lights twinkled, the skyscrapers gathered conspiratorially. Here the sun turns the concrete bone white and the roads whisper ‘keep driving’. On a certain day, my legs stuck fast to the vinyl in my truck, even Warren Olney grated, the car in front of me had a plate that read ‘LA GIT’ – I seemed to develop a fever. I called in sick, headed up some winding road, finally cut the engine, and saw the dust settle into the cracks in my windshield. Knock knock knocks sounded, persistent woodpeckers. And suddenly the terrible screeching of wild parrots. I got out of the car and it was true love.

  • Linda says:

    I grew up less than a mile from the Gabrielino trail entrance near JPL. Even though I went there hundreds of times as a child, I think I really fell in love with the LA outdoors the first time I made it up to Echo Mountain. Maybe it was the view at the top, or seeing a deer, or hell maybe it was just because it was the first time I had ever climbed a mountain. But that’s when I knew I loved it, and I couldn’t wait for the next time I could go back.

  • Melissa Pena says:

    surprisingly, the most crowded trail in la…runyon canyon. when i discovered how close it was to home, i started doing it daily, and that was the start of exploring all of our la trails.

  • I think it might have been the first time hiking up Waterman Mt. I went up it along an abandoned road that climbs and then crosses over to the main trail in the ski area. I wasn’t aiming at the peak, but wondering where the road would go, and somewhere in that crossover section it feels like there should be grizzlies there. Sunset at the peak was nice, too.

  • An Nguyen says:

    The first time I fell in love with L.A.’s great outdoors was when a group of my friends and my girlfriend went on a “training hike” for our summer 10 day backpacking/camping trip through Utah and Yellowstone. We went to Escondido Falls in Malibu. I didn’t expect much from the hike but a good test for us to carry our backpack and test our gear. The hike was very beautiful and had some “sketchy” areas which was very fun to do. This began our addiction of the great outdoors. A lot of future hikes in the LA area was found on this website. It has helped us train for longer trips and taught us many skills. We look forward to doing more hikes on your website. Keep up the good work!

  • Eugenie says:

    The first time I fell in love with L.A.’s great outdoors was when I went for hike in the San Gabriel Mountains after a few day days spent in the city on a business trip. It was so wonderful to be walking in a natural environment after the time spent in the urban hustle and bustle.

  • Sarah J. says:

    I love Sierra Trading Post AND your blog — win-win!

    I fell in love with hiking in LA when I discovered the swing at the end of the Rainforest Trail in Fryman Canyon. I grew up in Northern California and did plenty of hiking with my parents as a child, but I always hated it. It felt like drudgery, and it seemed like we kids never walked fast enough. Once I tried going out on my own here in LA, though, I fell in love! I loved the silence, and I loved every fork in the trail because I knew I only had myself to rely on. And that swing at the bottom of the canyon! That was utterly amazing to me. It felt like I had discovered something amazing. :-)

  • Terry Priest says:

    Having grown up in Los Angeles, you are more apt to think of the beach and waves and concrete over hiking, mountain and trees. Our family was the exception as our stepfather was an avid outdoorsman. He played a pivotal role in a love for the outdoors that simmers in me to this day. I have not been back to California in many years, and the city I left as a young teen has changed in many ways returning as a adult. Though these years have passed, I will always hold a special place for fishing in the San Gabriel valley, hiking the Sierras and lodging at June Lake. This is where a city boy got his first taste of nature and dove head first into all it has to offer. Though I left LA years ago for Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska and now Washington state, I will always appreciate the love for the outdoors instilled in me by my home state.

  • John K says:

    It’s hard to pinpoint one moment where I fell in love with L.A.’s great outdoors. Moving to Los Angeles was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and a large part of that was discovering its more “wild” side. Despite being the 2nd largest metropolis in our country, I like that much of L.A., including the gigantic mountain range bisecting it, seem hidden to the rest of the world. Its that sense of mystery and seemingly infinite surprises that keep me happy and hungry for more.

    I think it all started to come together maybe a month into moving here, on a bike ride with some savvy friends. It was night time and we acceded Nichols Canyon, leaving the din of the city behind for a more bucolic sound-scape of frogs and wind. Before I knew it, we turned onto a dirt trail, rolling swiftly under the pylons of modernist mansions until even those disappeared and we were surrounds by steep undeveloped hillsides. Then, a gentle bend in the road brought the whole of central Los Angeles into view.

    We were in the Trebeck Open Space. Humble by the standards of Griffith or the Angeles National Forest, it sparked in me the spirit of exploration that has taken me across all of metro LA’s peaks and parks and out into the San Gabriels, the Mojave, and the Sierras (by foot or by bike!).

  • Zac says:

    Hiking in the Angeles National Forest hunting waterfalls… Some of my best memories hiking…

    • Ben B. says:

      I realize that this will seem horribly incongruent at first glance. But I first fell in love with LA’s outdoors on 9/11.

      I’m originally from Idaho, and my attitude upon arriving in L.A. was that it was nothing more than a concrete mega-jungle; a maze of streets and freeways and cars and buildings. But that evening I went to an overlook on Mulholland. Some friends I’d reached, others I hadn’t. I needed to escape the media onslaught and breathe a little. Looking out over Hollywood, there were hardly any headlights on the 101. There were no planes overhead. There was a strangely calming silence. And for the first time, I turned in all directions and saw the last gasp of sun reflect off the top of Cahuenga Peak; the moon hanging low past downtown; the trees swaying gently. And I fell in love.

      The next day, I returned to see it all in a fresh light. And from that point on, LA has become a maze of dirt trails and one lane paths and seasonal creeks.

  • Eric says:

    I was never an outdoors type. The first time I ever went camping was a couple years ago. I didn’t have any gear of my own, so I borrowed a friend’s tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Before arriving at the camp site, I made one last ditch effort to get out of it; I said to my friend, “It’ll be dark when we get there. Wanna just set up your tent and we can both sleep in that one?” He declined.

    I was forced to pitch my tent entirely on my own. It turned out to be a relatively easy task. I felt the same as I did when I changed my car tire by myself for the first time: A sense of accomplishment, a tinge of heteronormative masculinity. And that was just the start of the magical weekend.

    Community and bonding over a campfire. The beauty of the dancing flames. The darkness of the skies contrasting the brightness of the stars. The soothing hot springs, and the freezing cold air right before and right after. The “silence” of the great wilderness and the contentment of just being there.

    As we packed up our gear at the end of the weekend, we noticed that I pitched my tent on top of an anthill.

  • Stephanie says:

    I’ve lived in LA for just over 2 years now, and I started hiking a few months in- mostly out of being broke and lucky enough to have somewhat athletic friends to spend time with. I live for those gorgeous views- so incredibly rewarding.
    I have definitely loved hiking from the get go, but my trek through Placerita, following your guidance, was the biggest challenge I’ve ever put myself through, and so incredibly rewarding. I felt so accomplished after finishing those grueling uphills. So that must be when I fell in love!

  • Gianni says:

    What’s the moment you first fell in love with L.A.’s great outdoors?

    Icehouse Canyon, period. We were looking to try something new and took a local backyard hike and got enthusiastic about hiking. After searching for local trails, we stumbled upon this site a few years ago and decided to give Icehouse Canyon a go based on the write-up. It was unreal and couldn’t believe a trail like that existed in SoCal. Been hooked on hiking ever since, and most of all, that one experience has dove-tailed into all kinds of new trips, adventures, and experiences!

  • Ed says:

    I think I fell in love with LA’s outdoor scene the first time I camped at Oakwild in the Angeles National Forest. I couldn’t believe it was possible to find such solitude in less than a 30-minute drive from downtown LA. That was my first overnight backpacking trip and since then I’ve gone on to do multi-day trips, but that trip started it all for sure.

  • Brant Williams says:

    I fell in love with The Great Outdoors of Los Angeles on a remarkably clear night in June. I was sitting on a beach in Parson’s Landing on Catalina Island. I had just backpacked 10 miles of the Trans-Catalina Trail and was elated to find that I had the entire beach to myself for the night. The sun had set hours ago and my campfire had just settled enough that I could finally begin to see some of the stars that I had been missing from my balcony in Hollywood. I had seen plenty that day that would have made me fall in love with the wild side of LA: buffalo, sharks, Catalina Island fox, a rattle-less rattle snake…but the thing that I couldn’t take my eyes off of that night was the soft glow emanating from the horizon. It was LA, herself. There was something so comforting about the fact that in the midst of the magnificent solitude that I’d come there to find, I was still kept company by the gentle night light that was the place I was lucky enough to call home.

  • ADKinLA says:

    When I finally got a job offer out in Los Angeles I was excited but also sad. I had been dreaming of coming to Los Angeles for years (so excited!) but I was sad to be leaving my friends and family back east (plus all the mountains unclimbed in the Adirondacks!).

    As I got on that plane, I felt more sad than excited and as we traveled closer to Los Angeles we flew over Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. I always try and get a window seat and so I looked down and was impressed by the mountains and the lakes (they have mountains in Los Angeles, who knew?).

    The scenery looked so pretty and inviting I was like, wow their are mountains here that I want to hike, and I want to check out the fishing in those lakes! That is when I first fell in love with LA’s outdoors, from 35,000 feet, and I have been exploring them at ground level ever since!

  • Deborah Lopez says:

    I grew up in L.A., went to college in the midwest, traveled the world a bit, and then came home to “roost.” Although I’ve been on gorgeous trails full of flora in Hawaii, have hiked a bit through the Rockies, Appalachian, Andes and Alps, gone up volcanoes and down waterfalls …. there is no place I’d rather hike than home.

    I would say the moment I really felt this surge of gratitude, this love for L.A.’s great outdoors, was the moment I completed hiking the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. The BBT epitomizes SoCal for me: I love my scrub, my shady oak groves, creek-crossings, bouldering, etc.. Manzanitas, toyons, chaparral, laurels … that defines home to me. I love that you can have a view of the most gorgeous stretch of ocean over one shoulder and see snowy peaks in the distance over the other.

    I finished my BBT quest a few years ago, but every time I step back on it, I say out loud, “I LOVE L.A.!” I truly feel an indescribable energy when I’m on that trail, and I’m very thankful it’s in my backyard.

  • Amanda says:

    What’s the moment you first fell in love with L.A.’s great outdoors?

    I’m not sure if it was the first moment I fell in love with L.A’s great outdoors, but my first ride on the SM bike path was the first moment I REALIZED I loved it. I had just moved from the Valley to the West side and had been in the funk that comes on when you can’t get out of the city to clear your head.

    I got home from work one evening and instead of carrying on the moping I’d been doing for weeks I hopped on my bike and headed to the beach. The sun was setting, the path was clear and the experience proved just how easy it is to find little spots of sanity that mimic the solitude I seek so often in the parks and mountains in and around Los Angeles.

    Living in this city is one of the most frustrating things I’ve had to deal with in my life and I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it if it weren’t for the easy access we have to some amazing wilderness!

  • Angus says:

    What’s the moment you first fell in love with L.A.’s great outdoors?

    It’s been so long to be honest with you. However, I must say it was a few years ago when I first visited Big Santa Anita Canyon. I didn’t think something like that was accessible so close to the city.

    So many places…not enough time :)

  • Chuck says:

    After a lot of late nights on the elliptical, I decided one morning to get up before dawn and hike a local trail I’d heard of.

    On the way up, I was lucky enough to hear coyotes barking and crying, and I hit the summit about ten minutes before the sun peeked over the eastern crest of the San Gabriel Mountains.

    It gave me a new appreciation for morning solitude, and definitely shone new light on the city… bringing peacefulness to the chaos that is everyday in Los Angeles.

    And now, 6 years later, my daily routine includes a trek up that same trail… although it’s never the same experience twice.

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