Most people think of Los Angeles as just beaches, movies and palm trees. But there’s a lot more out there on offer. We caught up with adventure madman and content creator Wade Holland who’s been lucky enough to discover loads of outdoor adventures in Los Angeles.
Oli Russell-Cowan: When people think about Los Angeles, they think about the movies maybe heading down to the beach and Disneyland but there’s so much more. What are some of your favorite outdoor adventures in LA?
Wade Holland: Yeah, man, you’re right. There’s Disneyland out here. But Mickey Mouse is getting way more rad than people realize. I can promise you that.
It’s true, man. Most people think of Los Angeles, like you said, Hollywood. And then the beach culture. Of course, there’s rad surf and skate out here. But there’s a whole other section of Los Angeles with mountain culture that I think is kind of overlooked. Being a dude from Montana, when I moved out here, I was like everyone else, when you hear of Los Angeles and the outdoors, those two usually don’t mix because you just don’t think of it as being an outdoor market.
Russell-Cowan: When you moved over to LA were you seeking out outdoor things to do?
Wade Holland: When I first moved out here I heard about Griffith Park. The main outdoor area right close to Los Angeles. It has the Hollywood sign, but it’s a huge section of wilderness. I read that the area was considered urban wilderness. So I said, alright, I gotta go check this out. So I started hiking along a bunch of these trails. The deeper I got, the more I realized, like, wow, no one’s coming back here, it’s me and that’s it.
Everyone hikes the Hollywood sign, you’ll see that but there’s so much more within Griffith Park.
I learned that Griffith Park is actually the largest section of urban wilderness in all of North America, which is a crazy fact. Urban wilderness means that there’s enough local wildlife living there away from human involvement. Like there’s a population of mountain lions that live in Griffith Park. Crazy, right.
So you go out there and you see it’s right in Hollywood. It’s kind of bizarre, but once you start hiking into Griffith Park, it’s super accessible, so I always list that for someone who’s just coming out to LA:
Reasons to visit Griffith Park
1. Easy to get into
2. Incredible sunset views
3. Anywhere in the park, you’ll be able to see the Hollywood sign
There are some pretty cool hikes in Griffith Park like the Wisdom Tree trail.
Russell-Cowan: There’s a small ski area close to you right?
Holland: Yeah. Mount Baldy, I’m putting that on my list as one of the coolest little gems of Los Angeles, Southern California, I would even say maybe the United States as a ski hill.
The reason I say that is because it embodies the old school spirit of skiing. There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s not all glitz and glamour but you get great skiing, and you would again, never think that being in Southern California. Most people think of Mammoth, Big Bear. And of course, those are great places to ski.
What makes Mount Baldy rad:
1. 45 minutes from Los Angeles.
2. Accessible and affordable. $35 lift tickets. Come on, how are you going to beat that?
3. No crowds
And when it does snow, that’s probably the biggest hurdle there is. It does snow there because you get up to 10,000 feet. Even if it’s not snowing in Los Angeles, mountain Baldy does get some decent snow.
When it does get snow, not many people ski there. So you’re almost guaranteed to get fresh snow. For $35 to get powder skiing 45 minutes from Los Angeles. That in itself is something phenomenal that I would never thought existed out here.
Russell-Cowan: Coming from Montana. I know you’re a keen mountain biker. What mountain biking spots have you discovered in LA?
Holland: Yeah, man, the mountain biking here is epic. Every time I go out into the San Gabriels, the mountain range right on the east side of Los Angeles, 15 minutes from downtown LA.
The thing about the San Gabriel’s that make it such fun mountain biking is they’re close to Los Angeles but you gain elevation really quickly. They’re not really gradual mountains. You gain a few thousand feet in elevation just in a few miles. So for mountain biking you get a crazy workout just huffing up these mountains. And then once you get to the top, the single track downhill is so flowy and fun.
The local bike community here, it does exist, because anytime I go out there, you’ll see a bunch of fun berms and little jumps. Really playful stuff that I had no idea was even a part of Southern California culture.
The thing that makes it so cool in Los Angeles is you never see anyone on these trails.
Russell-Cowan: Going on those trips have you discovered any other things like hiking locations or climbing or things like that?
Holland: Yeah, man. The cool thing too is there’s a bunch of hot springs, kind of all around the SoCal area. There’s definitely some in So Cal that I have my eye on that I want to go explore to. There’s some that are a 10 mile hike in to get to.
There’s these little back country hot springs sprinkled around the area that you can get to some of them are closer than others. But that’s a really cool piece, I think, to the equation out here is there’s the biking, hiking, but if you can bike or hike out to a hot spring that makes it even better.
Digging into the outdoors in Los Angeles has given me a whole new perspective and appreciation for this market with getting outside.
Russell-Cowan: Are there any other places that you want to discover?
Holland: Yeah, man. So one thing I want to get a little deeper on is the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands is a string of islands right off the coast of California. So right by Ventura, Santa Monica.
Most people think of Catalina Islands because of the Stepbrothers movie and the Catalina Wine Mixer. So like everyone knows the Catalina Island from that. That’s the one island that’s commercialise with shops and stuff on it. But north of that there’s the rest of the islands and five of those islands are a national park called the Channel Islands National Park, which are completely protected. It’s true wilderness when you get out there. No development, no commercialization.
The wildlife is amazing man. you can kayak around the islands. We’ve seen humpback whales, dolphins. There’s like 145 endemic species. They have species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world, except right there on the Channel Islands. So we saw this, like little island Fox that was running around and like that fox only exists right there on that island and nowhere else in the entire world. So there’s tons of species 145 that that you’ll see.
And to me that’s so incredible man. 30-45 minutes off the coast of Los Angeles. And, yeah, there’s all these species which is why they call it the Galapagos of North America. And it really is like, you feel like you’re transported into a whole other world. They have these incredible kelp forests, so people scuba or snorkeling through these kelp forests. That’s something I 100% want to be doing. Because it’s you see these kelp forests and they’re 80 feet long, these huge kelp vines. It’s crazy, man.
Coming to So Cal you just don’t think of mountains. Then realizing like, oh, there’s very real mountains right here. I can bike, I can hike, I can ski. I can camp. All this stuff I could do in Montana, just a different environment, a different plant, different little animals. And I dig that man. I think it’s important for people to experience different places like that.
It just opens your perspective on the natural world. It’s very rad out here. I can tell you that.
If you are heading over to Los Angeles why not explore these epic outdoor spots in and around LA but remember one of the main things to bring with you is of course the Stoke but also travel insurance.
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Watch the FULL Episode of the first RAD Days with Wade Holland below
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