Car-Free Hiking in Los Angeles: Temescal Gateway Park & Will Rogers State Park

A couple weeks ago, I wanted to go for a hike, but I didn’t feel like driving (this is one part not wanting to pollute the air, one part not wanting to burn out my clutch in weekend traffic, an one part I’m afraid of parallel parking).

The bus can take you pretty much anywhere in this city. Now it may not run frequently, but it’s extensive. I tried looking on the internet for hiking areas accessible by public transportation. A search for “car free hiking” gave me lots of ideas for New York and Seattle, but not so much for Los Angeles. I really wanted to hit the San Gabriel Mountains as I heard that they’re beautiful, but I found the most info on Will Rogers State Park, accessible by the Metro Bus via the 2 or 302 which shoots down Sunset from Downtown L.A. all the way to the Pacific Coast Highway (close to the Pacific Palisades and Malibu). Will Rogers State Park had a few good reviews on Yelp, so I hopped on the 2 at Sunset and Western.

The trip was a little under 90 minutes. A car ride probably would have cut it in half, but I found it more relaxing staring at my fellow bus riding kooks. The bus was moderately full. No one was standing but pretty much all the seats were taken. I caught the 2 around 9:50am and got the park around 11:30am.

Well I got to a park at 11:30am. Most L.A. buses have an electronic annoucement of what stop is next. The announcement machine was broken on my bus. Instead of doing the practical thing and asking the bus driver where the Will Rogers State park is, I thought I’d just eyeball it. Well, I eyeballed the stop right as the bus flew by Will Rogers State Park Road. So I got off the bus with a gaggle of UCLA students toting water bottles and a platoon of elderly women with sunhats and backpacks. Welcome to Temescal Gateway Park.

I’m glad I missed by stop because Temescal Gateway Park was the place to be. First of all, you don’t have to hike a mile to the park from the bus stop, as you do from the Will Rogers State Park, i.e. the bathrooms are more accessible after the 90 minute bus ride. Plus Temescal Gateway Park was happening. There was some maypole ceremony and tons of other folks wandering around.

Temescal Gateway Park has a parking lot if you travel by car. I forget how much parking costs, but I vaguely remember it being something like $7.00. There’s also the before mentioned restrooms, as well as picnic tables, a store which advertises maps for sale (but was closed on a Saturday at noon), as well as a few hiking trails to choose from. There was a trail map close to the entrance which at one time offered free copies to hikers, who hiked away with all the free maps.

A trail to a waterfall seemed to be the most popular, but I wanted something a little less crowded so I picked the trail from Temescal Rivas Canyon to Will Rogers State Park, which is around 2 miles if I remember correctly. The trail was a little rocky but my old pair of running shoes seemed to work fine (better than on some of the dusty trails in Griffith Park).

Although I always had some sort of sense that traffic and buildings were within sight or sound, I enjoyed the hike and took in some great views. I found the trail well marked, except towards Will Rogers State Park, where I wandered on to a residential street. Fortunately the street conencted to Sunset Blvd., close to the Will Rogers State Park Bus Stop. I then hiked up the windy road (watch out for cars!) and finally made it to Will Rogers State Park.

I was able to use the restroom at the park and even take in a polo game. I still had a couple hours left, so I started off on a trail towards Inspiration Point. I didn’t find inspiration as when I almost reached it, I realized I had lost my sunglasses. So I retraced my steps and a nice couple of polo fans had found them for me. I then headed up the Inspiration Point trail again, but turned back as I had run out of water and decided it was best to head home.

Photos forthcoming.