5 Dog-Friendly Nature Spots around LA for Hiking, Camping & Zenning Out

LA wellness guru Dave Coast shares his favorite places to escape the city with his Poodle.

by Dave Coast
October 10, 2021
Dave looks down at his dog Stanley, with the sea and rock cliffs in the background.
Courtesy of Dave Coast

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Home to more dogs than any other city in the United States — one million and counting! — Los Angeles has plenty of convivial spaces for pets. And with nearly 300 days of sunshine, it’s a great city to hike, camp, and explore with your furry friend. Whether you’re a resident Angeleno or are only visiting for a few days, these dog-friendly spots are sure to be a treat for you and your pup.

Dave Coast and his dog at Runyon Canyon

1. Runyon Canyon

The quintessential LA hike with terrific views that span from the ocean to downtown to the San Fernando Valley. Drinks and snacks are available for purchase at the Fuller Ave. entrance, and you can even pay via Venmo. There are multiple trails to explore in the park, including a few that are paved and stroller-friendly. If you get thirsty inside the park, there are multiple water fountains scattered throughout, many of which are dog-accessible too. Finally, Runyon offers some of the best “people and/or dog watching” in LA, which is a bonus to the already incredible views and cotton candy sunsets. 

Location: Hollywood, CA 

Parking: Fuller Ave. entrance, free street parking. Mulholland Dr. entrance, free parking lot available sunrise to sunset. 

Cost: Free 

Bathrooms: No 

Water: Yes

Off-leash? Yes 

Info: laparks.org/runyon


Dave Coast's dog at Tuna Canyon

2. Tuna Canyon

Much more secluded and tucked away than Runyon, if you’re looking for a dog-friendly hike in a quiet canyon by the ocean, go to Tuna. The drive over will be quite curvy and you’ll pass beautiful ranches with horses and vineyards. The ocean views are spectacular and there are a number of different trails to explore. Note: You’re more likely to see wildlife than another human (or dog, for that matter), so it’s a great place to take your pup if you need some 1:1 time. Be sure to check out the groovy town of Topanga on your way home. I really enjoy exploring vintage stores, coffee shops, and healthy places to eat in the town center.

Location: Topanga, CA 

Parking: Very small free “lot” by the entrance

Cost: Free 

Bathrooms: No

Water: No 

Off-leash? No (but it’s so quiet that most people just do it anyway and then leash up their pet if they spot a fellow hiker) 

Info: mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/tuna-canyon-park


Dave Coast and his dog at Malibu

3. Malibu Creek State Park Campground

Unlike many other campgrounds in the LA area, you can actually reserve your spot at Malibu Creek in advance and they usually have availability for the dates you want. Tucked away in Malibu Creek State Park, this campsite is closer to the 101 highway than the beach, so expect more sunshine and less fog. Additionally, the Santa Monica Mountains dip right into the campgrounds, so you get absolutely breathtaking views in all directions, and a plethora of hiking trails. The campground also has a lot of trees that are perfect for hammocks, so sit back, relax, enjoy the sunset, and watch some stars with your pup. My favorite campsites are 61, 62, 59, 57, 56, and 53.

Location: Malibu, CA 

Parking: Included in your reservation

Cost: $40-ish

Bathrooms: Yes

Water: Yes

Off-leash? No

Info: reservecalifornia.com/CaliforniaWebHome


Dave Coast's dog at Big Bear Lake

4. Big Bear Lake - Serrano Campground

A quick skip, jump, and hop to the local mountain of Big Bear, your dog will thank you immediately upon arrival. Set in the trees at the top of the mountain, the campground is walkable to the serene lake, where both you and your dog can swim and hike. Serrano also offers plenty of shaded campsites, advance reservations and nearby trails, including one that links up with the famous PCT. 

Location: Big Bear, CA 

Parking: Included in your reservation 

Cost: $50

Bathrooms: Yes

Water: Yes

Off-leash? No

Info: recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232250


Dave Coast and his dog in Ojai

5. Caravan Outpost - Airstream Hotel

Ojai’s best kept secret may just be Caravan Outpost, an airstream hotel equipped with five dog-friendly caravans. Tucked away on a quiet street in the heart of town, come early, work remotely, hangout with your pup, and enjoy a sunset dinner under the stars. Take your dog on a hike in the Ojai Valley by day, and return to a caravan equipped with a gorgeous interior, a full size bed (or larger), running drinking water, AC, and heat by night. Most of the town’s local restaurants and bars are also located within walking distance. 

Location: Ojai, CA 

Parking: Included in your reservation

Cost: Starts at $199 per night for an airstream + $40 per night for your dog 

Bathrooms: Yes

Water: Yes

Off-leash? No 

Info: caravanoutpostojai.com


It’s always a good time to get out into nature, but it’s more important than ever for both the mental and physical health benefits. Angenelos: Be sure to greet the fresh ocean air, enjoy the trails, and pack plenty of water for you and your pet. Happy Trails!

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dave coast

Dave Coast

Dave Coast is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Digital Creator living with his partner and dog, Stanley, in Los Angeles, CA. He founded www.thehealthycamper.com to create a wellness destination for the mind, body, spirit, and planet. His work has been featured in GQ, OUT, Mother Jones, VeryWell, Apartment Therapy and Outside magazines. He regularly creates content about nutrition, fitness, healthy living, men’s grooming, LGBT relationships, and sustainability. Watch his new IGTV series, Wellness Myth Busters on Instagram.