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Exploring the Outdoors

When the stress of college gets to be a little too much, it can be nice to take a break and go off campus to find some nature. One of my favorite things to do is hike. As a resource for future (and current) students, I have compiled a list of some of the different places I have gone hiking in the neighboring areas around Caltech:

  1. Griffith Observatory
    1. Length: 1.4 mi; Elevation gain: 360 ft; Route Type: Out and Back
    2. There are multiple trailheads around the observatory that give a beautiful view of the LA skyline and surrounding mountain greenery. You can even go and climb by the Hollywood sign! (though not too close or you could get in some trouble :o)
Griffith Observatory
  1. Inspiration Point
    1. Length 9.8 mi; Elevation gain: 2,755 ft; Route type: Loop
    2. This trail is only a few miles from campus! The hike is a little bit steep at points, but it wraps around the mountain giving you multiple, beautiful views of LA. Inspiration Point is at the very top of the mountain, but one of the lower stops, Echo Mountain, has a very cool lookout spot with some binoculars!
Inspiration Point
  1. Sunrise Hike! (Halfway up Echo Mountain)
    1. As a major out-of-character moment, I became an extreme morning person. My friend and I woke up at five AM, grabbed bagels and coffee from Einstein’s, climbed partly up Echo Mountain, and sat and ate our breakfast while watching the sunrise. 
Sunrise Hike! (Halfway up Echo Mountain)
  1. Switzer Falls via Gabrielino
    1. Length: 3.7 mi; Elevation gain: 692 ft; Route type: Out and back
    2. This hike is in the Los Angeles National Forest. It’s a pretty scenic hike through the forest, and if you make it to the end you get to see a waterfall!
Switzer Falls via Gabrielino
  1. Ski trip hikes
    1. One of Venerable’s house traditions at Caltech is an annual ski trip. Freshman year I went on Venerable’s ski trip to Mammoth Lakes. Personally, I am not much of a skier, so I chose to spend my trip going on some pretty breathtaking hikes. 
Ski trip hike
  1. Eaton Canyon
    • Here’s another waterfall trail! Eaton Canyon has two main paths:
      1. Down the mountain to the waterfall
Eaton Canyon

2. Up the mountain towards the skyline.

Length: 4.4 mi; Elevation:  521 ft; Route type: Out and Back

Eaton Canyon Sunrise
  1. Henninger Flats
    1. Length: 5.5 mi; Elevation gain: 1,410 ft; Route type: Out & back
    2. This is another pretty hike in the heights of LA (aka La Cañada). To get to the hike you get to drive through a fancy LA neighborhood, and at the top you get another view of the LA skyline. The top of the hike has a nice lookout area, and there is a campground and park benches.
Henninger Flats
  1. Beaudry Loop
    1. Length: 5.5 mi; Elevation gain: 1,515 ft; Route type: Loop
    2. One of my friends was graduating after first term this year, and despite countless attempts to spend the term hiking, we had only gone on a few hikes. So, on her final day, we decided to go on a hike. My flight back home left at 11 am, so we needed to leave very early to make the hike in time. We left for our hike at 5:30 AM, giving me a whopping two hours of sleep that night! However, the hike was gorgeous. We got a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the LA skyline. And, as a reward for our early wake-up, we got to watch the sunrise.
Beaudry Loop
  1. Attempt at finding Josephine peak
    1. Josephine Peak: Length: 8.3 mi; Elevation gain: 1,843 ft; Route type: Out & back
    2. We set out to climb to Josephine peak. However, due to some navigation errors we could not actually find the trailhead. Thus, we ended up hiking up a random mountain nearby 🙂
Attempt at finding Josephine peak
  1. Mount Thom via Las Flores Motorway
    1. Length: 4.6 miles; Elevation: 1171 ft.; Route type: Up and Back 
    2. Very spontaneously the other day some of my friends and I decided to go on an evening hike. We ended up getting stuck in a massive traffic jam on the way there, so we ended up getting to the trailhead only a little before sunset. However, the views from the mountain and the blooming wildflowers from California’s unbelievable season of rain made it all worth it. 
Mount Thom via Las Flores Motorway

In conclusion, there are many great opportunities to get off-campus and explore the surrounding California nature, and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of them!

Juni Polansky ’25

Hi I’m Juni, a junior from Baltimore, MD. I am majoring in bioengineering and minoring in English. I play on the women’s soccer team and run on the track team. In my free time, I like to read, play guitar, and paint.

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