My gym is about 4 miles from home. And about 4 miles in the opposite direction is the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. This tiny state park is notable mainly for a killer flight of stairs. I find it much more rewarding and satisfying than the StairMaster at the gym, with all the benefits of a stair climbing workout and the added perks of amazing views of Los Angeles — from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. And this short hike can be done at whatever pace you’re comfortable with. Some people run it. Some do multiple laps.
Time: 30 min.
Elevation gain: 454 ft
When to go: Year-round
The trail itself is hard to miss. Right at street level you’ll see The World’s Most Clearly Marked Trailhead.
The trail heads up a switchback, bringing you to the foot of one, long staircase.
There are 282 steps to the top of the overlook. I should note that these “steps” are not normal steps. Some of them required that I lift my leg more than 90 degrees to step up. They are big steps, spread out.
At the top of the steps is an overlook with incredible views over Los Angeles. You get a clear shot of the San Gabriel Mountains, downtown LA, Hollywood, Westwood, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
A short side trip from the top takes you to a beautiful visitor center, which has restroom facilities and a native plant garden.
Instead of taking the stairs down, save your knees! Retrace your steps to the observation deck then head to the east end. You’ll see a trail that snakes back and forth down the hill in a series of gentle switchbacks.
With a side trip to the visitor center, this hike clocks in at about 1.5 miles. Going straight up the stairs and down the switchbacks it’s 1.3 miles. If you’re in the area, this is a great way to start your day. If you’re not in the area, you should swing by and check it out at least once. The stairs — and the views — are amazing.
Baldwin Hills Overlook Trail Map
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Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Tips
- Don’t cut the switchbacks. It speeds erosion.
- There are restrooms at the top in the visitor center.
- The park technically doesn’t open until 8am, but this seems to be routinely ignored.
- Looking to reward your effort with breakfast? Check out S & W Country Diner in downtown Culver City.
- Sorry, dogs are not allowed.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Resources
- Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook – official State Park web site
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