The Getty View Trail is the ultimate city hike, bringing you up into the Santa Monica Mountains for birds-eyes views of the deep canyons as well as the 405 freeway.
The out-and-back trail is 2.6 miles round trip, and has a steady but doable incline that’s sure to get your heart rate up.
Despite its proximity to the freeway, this trail also has a huge variety of native plants, birds, and insects that you might spot along your hike. Depending on the air quality, you can see the Getty Center and the skyline of Westwood to the south.
- Trail type: Out-and-back
- Difficulty: Easy
- Length: 2.6 miles
- Elevation gain and loss: 416 feet, -416 feet
- Trailhead Coordinates: 34.088888, -118.472556
- Location: Santa Monica Mountains
- Season: Year-round
Getting to Getty View Trailhead
From I-405, take exit 59 towards Getty Center Drive and turn left on North Sepulveda Boulevard. Continue for 1.5 miles, then turn left on Moraga Drive. Keep going for 289 feet, then make a left on Bellagio Road. Follow Bellagio Road until it turns into Casiano Road, then drive for 1 mile before reaching the trailhead.
There isn’t a dedicated parking lot, but there is free street parking on Casiano Road right by the trailhead. The hill is steep, so remember your parking brake!
The Getty View Trail begins in Bel-Air and follows the East Sepulveda Fire Road, so the trail is smooth, well-marked, and easy to follow. Dogs are allowed on leash, and the trail is suitable for mountain biking as well.
Because the trail starts at the ridge, you gain most of your elevation on the drive up to the trailhead. Once you park and step out onto the trail, you already have views of the Getty Center and the surrounding mountains.
The Santa Monica Mountains are the only mountain range in the world that divides a city in two, separating the San Fernando Valley from the Los Angeles Basin. They’re home to a vast array of native species, creating a wilderness that’s only a few minutes away from the bustling city.
The Getty View Trail definity doesn’t remove you from urban life, but it gives you a unique perspective of the city. The first 0.75 miles of the hike follow a ridge above I-405, and I enjoyed standing and watching the traffic patterns for a few minutes. It’s a view only rivaled from a seat in a helicopter, and it sure beats being stuck in traffic yourself.
Because of the proximity to the freeway, there is a steady hum of traffic noise for the first portion of the trail. Even so, there is plenty of nature to be heard as well. Small birds flit around the shrubs, crickets chip off the trail, and crows circle overhead, calling to each other.
Although the landscape is dry and rocky, there is still a wide variety of hardy plants growing along the trail. Besides small wildflowers, there are oak trees, yucca, and tree tobacco growing on the hills.
About 0.75 miles into the hike, the fire road turns east away from the freeway and the traffic noise starts to fade. From this angle you get views into a (mostly) undeveloped canyon, scattered with houses along the top of the opposite ridge.
After 1.3 miles and 400 feet in elevation gain, you’ll reach a gate that marks the end of the trail. On the other side of the fence is Bel-Air Crest, a gated community located across the freeway from the MountainGate Country Club. The country club is easy to spot, because it’s incongruously green compared to the mountains, especially if you’re hiking in the summer or fall.
There are several cutaway trails that follow along the main fire road that you can take if you’re looking for a more challenging hike or a better view. I chose to take a short ridge trail on my way back, and since the fog was burning off I got a great view of the Getty Center and the buildings in Westwood. On very clear days you can see all the way to downtown Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Bay.
There is no shade on the trail, so it’s a good idea to go in the morning or late afternoon. Of course, the views aren’t as great if there’s a cloud cover, so come prepared with sunscreen and a hat if it’s sunny out. The trail suitable for hiking year-round, but the mountains will be greenest and most active in the spring after some rain.
The Getty View Trail is short but satisfying, and it’s conveniently located and easy to find. Because it’s smooth, wide, and has only a gradual incline, it’s perfect for families as well as beginning hikers. There aren’t any benches along the trail, but it’s large enough to stand off to the side if you need to break for some water. Plus, since it’s an out-and-back trail, you can turn around and head towards your car at any point if you want a quicker hike.