Moon Canyon Park, 1.8 miles from campus
Tucked away in the hills of Mount Washington, Moon Canyon Park offers a web of trails for hiking, running or exploring. The area also makes a serene picnic spot. But bear in mind, while Moon Canyon Park is home to community gardens and hidden swing sets, it also contains a dog park, so patrons should keep an eye on their sack lunches. Moon Canyon Park is best suited for those seeking some animal interaction in addition to a dose of fresh air.
If students are looking for longer trails, they can continue just beyond the confines of Moon Canyon to Heidelberg Park. The route to this destination from campus is simple enough: Students can stick to Avenue 50 until San Rafael Avenue, where a right turn and less than a mile walk will lead to the outskirts of the park.
LA River Bike Trail, 4 miles from campus
The LA river has risen a bit thanks to El Niño, so much so that the county set up barriers along the river’s bike path in anticipation of flooding earlier this year. Since the blockades have been removed and the water is still running, Occidental students can enjoy the river and views of the mountains lining the 134 Freeway by biking or jogging along the trail.
Starting at Occidental, the closest trail opening is located before Hyperion Avenue between Atwater Village and Silver Lake, just past the entrance to the 5 Freeway. The path runs along the water all the way to San Fernando Road, with a number of green spaces positioned along the way, such as Rattlesnake Park on Fletcher Drive or Elysian Valley’s Marsh Park. Its long duration and underpopulation makes this trail ideal for group rides or runs. It concludes less than a mile from the Lincoln/Cypress Metro station. From there, students can take the Gold Line directly back to the Highland Park station, three stops away.
Rose Bowl Loop Track, 3.4 miles from campus
Before heading off to try the Rose Bowl Loop Track in Pasadena, it is vital to check if there is an event being held at the stadium that day. If so, forget about this adventure. But if the stadium is unoccupied, plenty of free parking will surround the Loop Track.
The loop itself is 5 kilometers, or just over three miles, with a relatively flat, paved track. This run does not present many obstacles, save for dodging strollers and large groups on the weekends. The path also borders the Brookside Country Club and adjoining golf course, providing a bit of shade along with the hazard of haywire golf balls soaring toward the loop. The Rose Bowl and this site sit just off the 134 Freeway, which students can quickly reach from Colorado Boulevard.
Ernest E. Debs Park, 4 miles from campus
Ernest E. Debs Park is worth the ride to Montecito Heights (or Hermon, depending on who you ask). A paved street directly off of Monterey Road leads up to the park, where plenty of picnic tables and barbecues adorn the base. On the weekends, patrons may be able to spot half a dozen bounce houses strewn across the area. Even then, a series of different paths lead to the park’s peak, where hikers can spot Echo Park Lake, the Dodger Stadium valley and a grid of streets lined with palm trees and blue recycling bins.
A small pond also sits up at the peak. Make no mistake, this is no swimming hole; It’s probably not even wise to dip one’s feet in, due to lack of water circulation. But surrounded by sloping trees, it offers a cool reprieve from the unshaded trails that lead upward.