• Jakob Irwin

The Hills of LA

The sun was shining and the weather was pushing 80 degrees out. The Uber driver dropped me off in what seemed to be the middle of no where. I could hear the birds chirping and took comfort in the chattering of the bushes which were likely home to some lizards or squirrels. With the filling of excitement coursing through my veins, I tightened up my shoe laces and took off on my running adventure.

The trails were rough and the hills were constant. The dirt quickly covered my fairly new shoes. Some of the other runners were walking up the hills while others took in the views with pictures and a breath of fresh air. Not a vehicle in sight, just the sounds of the wild and the passing footsteps of other runners out to enjoy the same escape that I was on. One might think that this adventure would place me in the Salt Lake Hills, or maybe the Adirondacks of New York, But alas...This Running destination had me creating dust trails in the Downtown hills of Los Angeles!

Who Knew???!!!

I grew up in Northern California and have spent the last ten years living in the Mountains of New York State. While I had been to Los Angeles several times, I never processed the fact that Los Angeles is actually surrounded by mountains. and I definitely did not even fathom the fact that Downtown Los Angeles, right next to the famous Dodger Stadium, would contain some of the most amazing trail areas to run.

Now let me be the first to say, that if you are looking to go log a fast 10 miles, than this is not the set of trails you want to go on. The hills were constant and not shy with the extreme grades. The turns were sometimes sharp, and even at 7am, the weather was pushing almost 80. Parts of the trail were definitely high and literally on the edge of some cliffs that were not protected by any kind of barrier, so a slower speed and a watchful eye were obviously required. But take in to account that you are downtown in one of the largest cities in the country, and it all begins to feel like someone picked up a runners paradise and dropped it off in Southern California.

The first day I stayed running on one mountain range, while the second day I discovered that the mountain range across the street was also full of trails. On that first day, as I paced my way to the top of the mountain, I was greeted by the views of the Valley and the city below. I could see the towering buildings, the highways lined with cars, Dodger Stadium, the clear blue was simply breathtaking. Pace was no longer a concern for me at this point, I just wanted to enjoy the moment. And I wasn't alone either.

Even at the early hour of 7am, a large group of walkers, joggers, and runners were along my running path. Many of them had there dogs with them, unleashed, as they too enjoyed all the qualities that this mountain rang was providing. And it was on this trail, just off the main path that I would discover a swing resting from a tree, simply calling for me to sit on it. I was happy to oblige


I suppose it is not fair for me to say I discovered this swing as it was obviously placed at this specific location for a reason. Sitting back on the swing and overlooking the world below, was definitely no accident. I would later discover pictures that other hikers and runners a like had posted on there "discovery" of the very same swing. Regardless, it was a beautiful find and likely what I would consider the highlight of my run that morning.

But the next morning I was dropped off at the same location, only this time, I crossed the main road and found my way through a different set of trails. I noticed that these trails did not have as many people storming them, and it didn't take me long to figure out why. about a mile and a half in I found that the trail was starting to shrink in width as it climbed higher and higher. Pretty soon my 7 minute pace had become a 9 minute pace and I found myself having to walk in many parts for fear of slipping down the edge of the mountain.

However with great risk, comes great reward and the view was well worth it all. I would have gone further had I been stopped by what appeared to be a portion of the trail caved in by some likely previous natural disaster. It was then that I stopped my watch and pulled out my camera to enjoy the gift I was experiencing. I was in downtown LA, but I felt like I was in a completely different world.

On my way back I found my way over to Dodger Stadium via some side trails that led to one of the parking lots. While I was denied entry to get any closer, I made sure to take in the experience for all that it was worth. And then, as I made my way down to the main road again, the sound of soaring engines coming from the distance raised my ear. I stood at the cross walk and was witness to a trail of custom street racing cars as they breezed by me. Oh yes, Now there is the Downtown LA that I know.

While I did take the time to run the city streets of LA, it was definitely these series of trails that I will remember most. It is surprises like this that inspire me to discover new places and experience all the running adventures that are thrown my way. LA is just another perfect example, especially in the world of running, that you should never judge a book by it's cover.

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