If you’re looking for a fairly short hike that will still get your heart rate up and give you great views of Downtown L.A., give El Sereno‘s Ascot Hills Park a try. Ascot Hills Park has a few different trail options, but for this post, we’re going to focus on the trail that takes you up the east side of the park to get the best views. I also didn’t loop this hike, as it was a fairly hot day and the trail doesn’t offer any shade, but I still feel like I got a great hike in just climbing to the peak itself.
To get to the park, turn onto Gate View Drive. You’ll pass through a large open wooden gate, and there will be a big parking lot on your left. Once you park, head toward the large paved path that leads you out of the parking lot and to the white gate. Keep left to get on the dirt path just past the gate, and take the first left at the fork.
You’ll immediately notice views of Downtown that only get better as you rise up the incline. It’s a fairly steady gain the rest of the way to the peak. The path is wide, so you don’t have to worry about bumping into anyone. When I went, the trail was also fairly secluded. It is dusty, however, so definitely wear shoes you don’t mind having to wash off and watch your step so you don’t slip. At the next fork, keep right.
There is a distinct lack of signage here — something LA parks in general are slowly working to improve — but it’s not too difficult to stay on the right path. Although there are a few forks, as long as you keep Downtown on your left and notice that you’re still gaining elevation, you’ll reach the peak. At the next fork you see, keep left. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for some friends — I saw some beautiful dragonflies and a handful of lizards. There were also hints of straggling summer wildflowers — I bet in the midst of winter and spring the trail is a lot more green.
You’ll know you’re at the pinnacle when you reach the barbed wire fence. Here’s where the option to continue on the loop comes, to the right of the fence. But when I was here it was a hot day and the path seemed really steep, so I opted out. Spend a moment taking in the views and when you’re ready, simply turn around and head back the way you came.