More big news in Finn’s world, we’re back in Los Angeles. Because of a few things out of Finn’s control it just wasn’t working out so we decided to come back to the land of Sun with a new plan to take advantage of all the things we neglected in the past. That means lots of beach visits, enjoying cool new restaurants, seeing friends, and checking out LA’s mountains for some good hikes. And what better kickoff to these hikes than Runyon Canyon Park, considered by many to be the premiere place to view Los Angeles while still feeling like an escape.
Runyon Canyon is a massive, 134 acre, hiking trail and park located in the Hollywood hills between Hollywood boulevard and Mulholland Drive. Parking is a hassle on the southern side (street parking is available all around the Fuller St. entrance, a small lot sits near the trail head at the Mulholland entrance) and can add a mile to a hike if you go at a busy time. The off-leash area, which is signed but functions essentially as anything inside the main gates, is packed with people from dawn until dusk and there are loads of dogs around. Personally I keep Finn on a leash when we are there simply because he is excitable and I worry that he’ll go scampering off down a slope that is too steep for a chase, or he’ll find some wildlife that I don’t want to save him from. As you can see from the picture below (taken of the west trail from the eastern trail) the path is fine but there is a lot of area in the park that you do NOT want a pet going. That being said, the park is gorgeous. The western side has a paved service road that is almost entirely off leash. The eastern path (above) is an unpaved trail that winds up the side of the hill and provides some great lookouts of L.A. The two do meet up for a total hike that is about 3-4 miles of off leash excitement. More trails at the top of the hill attach the off leash area to the Mullholland entrance (which does have some limited parking).
The park caters to dogs and dog owners and there are plenty of water stops at the base of the trails and a few along the way. You do have to bring your own bags though, the park does not provide any and is notorious for being a “toilet” thanks to the off leash nature and some irresponsible pet owners.
There are some picnic tables and a garden by the Fuller entrance where you can catch your breath after a long hike and along the trail benches and well positioned rocks provide a place to sit (albeit unshaded) to admire the scenery.
Views from the trail are amazing. On a clear day everything from the Hollywood sign, to downtown, and even Santa Catalina can be seen. It sure is nice to be back.
Finnegan back in Hollywood (the sign can be seen in the distance).
Before the storm clouds rolled in today Denver had some beautiful weather. Nice and cool thanks to the impending rain, Finn and I decided to go check out a new dog park. There are a few right by the house but if I’ve learned one thing from having a dog it’s that not all dog parks are created equal and it’s worth a shot to check some out.
"Aerial" view of the park from the road
A few miles south of us is Highlands Ranch which in the past 10 years has expanded a lot putting in thousands of homes and essentially creating a suburb of Denver that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Luckily the folks planning the area were big on keeping the landscape of the area, with lots of bike trails, public parks, and green space. They even managed to find a way to sneak in 4 off leash fenced dog parks.
Rover’s Run at Redstone park was the pick for today. It’s about 2 acres set in the middle of a meadow on the Southeast corner of Town Center Drive and Foothills Canyon Blvd. Parking is easy enough thanks to the Tennis club just across the street.
Playing fetch at the dog park
Finn playing in his pond
As part of the open space bags are provided along with a watering hole just for the puppies although cleanliness is a concern, while we were there the faucet was situated in the center of a small pond it had created. Even so there was plenty of room to play some fetch, balls were all over the place. Being in the middle of a meadow a little more shade would be nice, the single small tree next to the picnic tables just wouldn’t cut it on a hot day.
The biggest concern though was the FIRE ANTS!! All over the park there were mounds with swarms of ants running around doing whatever it is the devil ants do. I made extra sure to check Finn’s paws upon our exit, along with my own legs. There is a whole chapter about fire ants and seeing so many made me freak a bit, more so than the coyotes that I know are in the area (why the sign for coyotes and no sign for fire ants? I’ve no idea).
Warning Coyotes. Also warning, terrifying fire ants
All in all the park is a nice place although the bordering network of walking paths seemed a better place for a dog and those with great recall could likely go off leash without too much hassle. Finn enjoyed himself, but there are other parks in the area we have a better time at.
There are only a few Los Angeles area beaches that allow dogs, and even fewer that allow them to run free off leash. Huntington Beach Dog park is one of the few and is a great place to cool off with you pet while enjoying the waves. The off leash portion of the beach is located between 21st and Seapoint on PCH in Huntington Beach CA and offers a well protected beach that is packed with dogs. Although not as expansive as some other southern California beaches this park has enough room to play fetch, throw a ball, and relax in the sun; assuming you don’t mind the occasional wet nosed visitor.
There is limited parking just west of PCH across from the oil fields. It is all metered, which can be a hassel, so remember to bring some quarters. We lucked out when there and someone pulled out right in front of us but if it’s a nice day you may be better off parking a little ways away.
The day we were there there were literally hundreds of dogs playing around. The atmosphere is fairly relaxed and we didn’t see any signs of aggressive dogs, always a concern at a public dog area. After setting up are spot and checking out the scene we let Finn off leash and he immediatly burst towards the water jumping over smaller dogs and making immediate friends with a few kids who were kicking a soccer ball.
My one complaint about the beach is the surf. Waves break very close to shore so it is dificult even for big dogs to really do any swimming. That being said for the ability to let you dog run free and discover what a wave is this park is one my favorite places we’ve gone with Finnegan. For a more secluded on leash park you can try Malibu’s Leo Carillo State Park or just a few miles from Huntington is the Long Beach off-leash dog zone(a smaller but still off leash park that is the only one in L.A. county). Don’t forget to dry your dogs ears to avoid ear infections after the trip, and enjoy your day at the beach!
Although it is technically not in Los Angeles (as no beaches are), Leo Carillo State Park is one of the few sandy ocean side destinations that allows dogs without the threat of a fine. We took Finn up there in hopes of letting him play in the waves, which we didn’t let him do the last time we brought him to a beach. After pawing at a few mild splashes Finn dove in and within minutes was letting waves crash on top of him.
The on leash rule, even in the water, is a bit of a bummer but we did see a lot of extending leashes and stakes with leads attached. Of course Finn was upset that he didn’t get to run free but unlike other dog parks you are allowed to bring food so we were able to entice him to relax for a few minutes. There were tons of other dogs at the beach, in every size, and most owners were friendly with well socialized pets. As always though, Finn was the best looking one of the bunch.The beach does provide a great place to run with a dog, but for those who want a more intense walk the park also contains a few miles of hiking trails as well as overnight camping spots.
There are no bags here but it is a beach so it is pretty easy to figure out a way to “pick up” after a pet. Also there is no water (fresh… clearly there is salt water), which could be a big problem for dogs that like drinking salt water (which causes dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea). If you are going to a beach with a pet you may want to look at some more tips about taking a dog to a beach.
Getting to Leo Carillo beach was an easy hour drive from the westside of Los Angeles, but if PCH is backed up it could be quite the haul. The park is located at 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and parking there is $10 for the day, not bad by L.A. standards. Of the 1.5mi of beach area about .75mi is a designated dog friendly area. As you enter the park you drive under a bridge and follow the road north of tower 3 to the second parking lot, dogs are allowed ON LEASH anywhere north of tower 3. Here is a little more on the features of Leo Carillo State Park, and below is a map of the area.