A brief respite: Temescal Canyon Trail

If New York is the city that never sleeps, then perhaps L.A. is the city that never walks. And yet Los Angelinos love to hike.  At times the treacherous traffic and constant hustle of a major metropolis can be chokingly claustrophobic.

Yet, with only a limited amount of effort and a short commute, Angelinos are able to easily escape the concrete confines of the big city.

Located in the Pacific Palisades, at the foot of Sunset Blvd., Temescal Canyon Trail is an ideal, entry-level, local hike just 15 minutes from the Santa Monica College campus.  Parking and amenities are available at the gateway entrance off Sunset, but make sure to bring exact change ($7) or be prepared to walk before you hike.

Even after a short distance up the well-marked path, it becomes increasingly easy to erase all memory of the big city and the big headaches that all too often accompany it. Follow Temescal Canyon steadily upward to see a seasonal waterfall, which flows steadily after rain. In spring it seems more like a stream but it nonetheless flows free, allowing your imagination to do the same.

Dustin Mote and his wife, amateur hikers, were take full advantage of the outdoor opportunities the mild, sunny Los Angeles region offers.

"We try to get out hiking and exploring at least a couple times a month," he says. "Yesterday we hiked Topanga Canyon, and the views were unreal."

Mote migrated from Chicago to work in the entertainment industry and appreciates the nature of this city.

"When I lived in Illinois we would have to drive 2-3 hours just to walk up a hill," said Mote. "In L.A. there's a great diversity of city and wilderness, and tons of outdoor adventures right at our fingertips. I love it." 

Although the shade of the oak and sycamore slowly disappear from the trail, overgrown chaparral surround to provide welcome refuge from the mid-day heat. Occasionally the shrubbery clears to reveal the vastness of the open canyon below.

Once at the ridge's crest, follow the path two-third of a mile upward to arrive at the unique skull-shaped rock formation that punctuates the peak of the trail and makes for the perfect picnic perch. Here, hikers are rewarded with sweeping views that span from Catalina Island to Downtown.

To head back down, loop along the steeply sloping Temescal Ridge Trail or, for the less precipitously inclined, follow the canyon path back down the same way.

The Skull Rock round-trip is 5.4 miles, with a 700-foot gain. At a leisurely pace it should take no more than a few hours. Bring water, comfortable footwear and a camera and enjoy some of the best views Southern California has to offer.

Los Angeles is a city where fitness comes first, yoga pants double as formal wear and treadmill line-ups fill the gyms that dot nearly every street.  However, if you are a city dweller who would prefer to peer at a picturesque landscape rather then the stark concrete walls of the local gym, Southern California's trails might be the perfect place for you.