Los Angeles isn’t just about finding boys on the beaches and in bars. Turn away from the beach and, through the California coastal haze (and perhaps a bit of smog), take note of the mountains that surround the area: the city is also the gateway to miles of mountain trails, through everything from lush forest to craggy peaks. Thanks to the rise of the lumbersexual movement, hiking is the hot new hobby around town, with packs of bearded gays roaming the hills to soak in the sun and the enjoy the beauty of the mountains, the canyons, and the general sense of peace.
Popular trails wind through the city itself, including Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park, and they become more scenic through the cliffs and canyons of Malibu. The Angeles National Forest sprawls north and northwest of the city, with trails leading to waterfalls and soaring vistas.
Sometimes tackling a trail for the first time is easier with someone who has experience. And who doesn’t enjoy a hiking buddy? There are several hiking groups in the L.A. area, including a few LGBT-themed clubs: Take-A-Hike/LA, led by Tony Biel (photo above), is the preeminent group, great for active hikers who enjoy conquering the trails, while Hiking Vikings organizes outings with smaller, chattier groups.
When joining a hike on one of the group Facebook pages, watch for the difficulty level detailed on the trail description. Anyone who has never been hiking before probably should not go on a 10-mile trek with intense bouldering and no trees to provide shade.
Easier hikes don’t mean there is less to see. For instance, the hike through the Santa Anita Canyon to Sturtevant Falls is rated as relatively easy hike, and it leads to this:
All hiking clubs are open to first-timers, and everyone is happy to welcome an out-of-town visitor. Although if you join the Hiking Vikings, they may ask you to pose with them for one of their trademark photos to commemorate reaching their destination (photo mildly NSFW).
Even the easiest hike is still great exercise, so pack your water and wear sunblock. Although there are usually lots of opportunities to pause, rest, and pose for photo ops on big rocks and trees.