13 Best Hiking Trails in Pasadena, CA [2024 Edition]

Summer is fast approaching… which means that it will soon be time to start hitting the trails to enjoy the fresh, clean air and the great outdoors. Hiking is also a good way of getting in better shape

Pasadena hiking trails are among the best to take advantage of this free exercise. But which trails are the best for hiking? Follow me as I count down the best hiking trails in Pasadena!   

Why Pasadena?

Pasadena is a historic town in California, incorporated in 1886, famous for its Rose Bowl football games and tournaments. In addition to hiking on Pasadena’s trails, you might want to visit various historical landmarks such as the:

  • Gamble House 
  • Historic Old Pasadena 
  • The Fork in the Road 
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory  
  • Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens

10 Key Benefits of Hiking (Physical & Mental)

  1. Hiking helps clear your mind.
  2. It can help reduce your blood pressure.
  3. Hiking helps to get the blood flowing.
  4. By being outside, you can get fresh air.
  5. It can help with creativity and give artistic inspiration.
  6. Hiking may help you lose weight.
  7. It can help you meet other people (provided the trail is populated.)
  8. Hiking can help with blood sugar control.
  9. It may help strengthen relationships.
  10. Hiking may improve your mood.

Some General Tips for Hiking on Pasadena’s Trails 

  • Keep in mind that natural park areas are dedicated to the natural wildlife and preserving and protecting this beautiful natural resource.
  • Don’t litter. Take out anything you bring with you. Remember the motto: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”
  • If you can, find trail maps and download them to your phone/ computer. Print them out if you need to.  
  • Never go off trail. Many places don’t have adequate cellphone service if you get lost or injured. At least if you’re on a trail, you have a better chance of being found.  
  • Keep dogs leashed at all times. Please pick up after them.
  • Because specific trails may be popular, overcrowding can occur. Think of where else you can go if a parking lot is full.
  • If using street parking, keep the neighborhood in mind.
  • Check the weather – some parks may close due to inclement weather. Some natural areas are prone to flooding.
  • Wear long pants to prevent exposure to ticks and poison ivy, oak, and sumac, boots to help out on unsteady terrain, and a hat to help with sun exposure.
  • Before leaving to go on a hike, check the location’s website for closures.
  • Bring water with you for you and your dog to help prevent heatstroke.
  • Bring sunscreen and bug repellent if you need it or apply it before you leave.
  • Always notify others of where you’ll be, when you expect to return.
  • If you bring your dog(s) with you, make sure to keep them on a leash at all times.   

Hiking Hotspot #1 Brookside Park

Not all of Pasadena hiking trails are wilderness areas. Some are parks that have other facilities. Brookside Park is located at 360 N. Arroyo Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91103. Its hours are Sunday – Saturday, 6:00 am – 10:00 pm. Situated on 6.11 acres, it has playgrounds, baseball diamonds, picnic areas, and an aquatic center.

A trail goes from Lot 1 North, around the dog area, on either side of the Fannie Morris area, past the lawn area, annex, and the other side of the lawn area, out to Rosemont Ave.

If you want a longer path, trace your way past the bandshell and tennis courts, around the restrooms, and then, to the other side of the lawn area, back to Rosemont. If you’re looking for a trail in the city with lit paths, make sure to check out this park.

Hiking Hotspot #2 Eaton Canyon

Eaton Canyon Natural Area is a 198-acre nature preserve located at 1750 North Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107.

This nature preserve boasts hiking and horse trails, breathtaking scenery, and various natural habitats at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains.

It also has a picnic area, a nature center complete with restrooms and a gift shop, rest area, natural habitats, live animals, and more.

The Park and Nature Center is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, but the parking lot is available from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm.

Hiking Hotspot #3 Arroyo Seco

The Arroyo Seco, known by locals simply as Arroyo by Pasadena residents, is a protected natural ecosystem that includes several native plant communities that provides shelter, nesting sites, and food for hundreds of animal types.

It has 22 miles of flat gravel trails, eight of which wind their way through western Pasadena.

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Hiking is a good way of getting in better shape physically and mentally.

You’ll note the trails feel enjoyably wild and undeveloped, despite them being close to the city. While hiking through the Arroyo, you’ll see an up-close view of the historic Colorado St Bridge as a bonus.

Though much of the route is exposed, keep in mind during the summer heat. Arroyo is located at Arroyo Blvd at Norwood St, Pasadena, CA 91105

Hiking Hotspot #4 Henninger Flats Trail

The Henniger Flats Trail is a moderately demanding trail that is a five-and-a-half-mile round trip that takes about 3 hours to complete. The trail has dirt paths and beautiful vistas. There are even a few benches to stop and enjoy it as well.

It’s a popular area for those who want to walk their dogs, backpack, camp, or hike, so you’ll often encounter other people while on the trail.

Located past the closed gate on Pinecrest Drive, there is an opening for those afoot or on bikes to enter. Parking is limited at the trailhead.

Hiking Hotspot #5 Hahamongna Watershed Park

Located at the south-east corner of Oak Grove Dr. and Foothill Blvd, the Hanamongna Watershed Park is a 1300-acre park near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition to horseback riding, hiking, and biking trails, it has an athletic field and frisbee golf course, restrooms and drinking fountains, and picnic and BBQ pit areas.  

Hiking Hotspot #6 El Prieto Trail

El Prieto Trail is an almost 6-mile trail located at 915 Ventura St Altadena, CA 91001. This shady trail is popular with dog walkers, bird watchers, bikers, and hikers; the El Prieto Trail takes about two and a half hours to complete.

Hikers should keep alert so as not to get run over by bikers, who will often ring their bells to alert them of their approach.  

Hiking Hotspot #7 Rubio Canyon

The Rubio Canyon has three entrances for you to choose from:

  • Rail Trailhead – next to 1330 Rubio Vista Drive, Altadena
  • Edison Trailhead – near 3351 Camp Huntington Drive
  • Education Center – 1101 East Loma Alta Drive

The Rubio Canyon trail is a shaded trail that follows the former Mount Lowe Railway, taking hikers on a shady one-mile walk that passes the Rubio Pavilion Hotel and the Rubio Incline past several waterfalls.

Conservation efforts are underway to turn the canyon into a rich natural community resource. By removing invasive species, refurbishing trails, and creating outdoor education programs for local students, Rubio Canyon should be a natural site of interest for years to come.

Hiking Hotspot #8 Sunset Ridge Trail and Dawn Mine

Located at 4047 Chaney Trl, Altadena, CA 91001, the main part of the trail is a 4.4 mile loop and is quite popular with mountain bikers and hikers and can be completed in about 2.5 hours.

However, you can extend the hike to approximately 6 miles if you don’t mind going off-trail to the ruins of the once moderately successful Dawn mine area.

The rough, somewhat tricky, and sometimes steep trail along this path travels through a rugged canyon on the banks of a river. At its end, you’ll find wheels from mining carts and other miscellaneous junk scattered along the canyon floor in this area.

Hiking Hotspot #9 Cobb Estate Trail

Located at 3302 Lake Ave, Altadena, CA 91001, the Cob Estate Trail is a 16.5-mile trail that takes about eight hours if you insist on doing the whole thing at once.

It’s an excellent trail for backpacking, camping, and hiking, but it definitely requires quite a bit of endurance. There are parts of the trail that are extraordinarily steep – basically rock climbing. If you’re looking for a challenge, this trail’s for you!

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When going on a hike, wear long pants to prevent exposure to ticks and poison ivy.

A 1.5-mile loop for those less adventurous will take you around the property.

Unlike other trails on this list of Pasadena Hiking Trails, this one is purported to be haunted.  

Hiking Hotspot #10 Gould Canyon Trail 

Located at5009 Gould Ave, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011, this roughly 5-mile round-trip trail takes about two-and-a-quarter hours to complete. The multiuse trail sees traffic from horses, mountain bikes, and hikers.

It goes through the new construction in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, spilling out into a wash plain. Beyond the area Angeles Crest Bridge passes, the trail opens up to a beautiful natural area.

Hiking Hotspot #11 Flint Canyon Trail

Located at 4157 Hampstead Rd, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011, the Flint Canyon Trail is close to an 8-mile long trail. The horse trail runs through the city, through the La Canada Flintridge, and connects to Devil’s Gate Reservoir, crossing several streets in the process.

You’ll see the back of people’s yards, by the picturesque estates of the Flintridge Riding Club, and a couple of undeveloped areas as well. Instead of remaining one width the entire distance, it may become 25 feet or more wide.

Hiking Hotspot #12 Altadena Crest Trail

Accessible from various locations, including Zane Terrace and Tanobele Dr. in Altadena, California, the Altadena Crest Trail negotiates several diverse environments such as rural roads and scrub-filled hills.

The approximately 4-mile trail takes about 2 hours to complete. From the trail, you can see downtown LA, the Pacific Ocean, and the Angeles National Forest. Because of the difficulty of the terrain, less experienced hikers may have trouble.

Hiking Hotspot #13 Scholl Canyon Fire Road

Located at 2755 Valle Vista Dr, Glendale, CA 91206, this short 2-mile roundtrip trail near Pasadena, CA, only takes about an hour to complete. The dry trail gets traffic from bird watchers, hikers, and runners. A few sparse trees and wildflowers dot the trail.

Because of the openness and lack of shade on the trail, I’d recommend using the trail either in the early morning or evening hours. You can even do the hike as a moonlight stroll, as, unlike some of the other trails, it never closes.

On clear days, you can even see out to the Pacific Ocean.  

Final Thoughts on Pasadena Hiking Trails  

As you can see, there are a variety of trails in and around Pasadena for some great hiking. Each of these unique locations offers a different experience.

Some trails are attached to parks, while others go through the city. A few might even be considered authentic wilderness experiences for you to enjoy.

Whichever of the trails you decide to visit, have fun and be safe!  That means making sure you are prepared with the proper gear and have checked the weather ahead of time.

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