If you’re looking for an outdoor spot with something to interest everyone in your family, I highly suggest checking out Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. The park has a number of different areas – a duck pond, a stream with waterfalls, a forest, hiking trails, toddler play structures, picnic sites and more. Our biggest challenge was deciding where to explore first!
For our first visit, we started at the community center where The Big Explorer (5 years old) quickly spotted a stream. He began walking alongside it looking for small rocks he could throw in and creating his own “hike” in the process. He told me we should “see where the trail takes us” before beginning a game of follow-the-leader, nature-style.
At the end of the stream was a waterfall, which fed into a huge lake. Both he and The Little Explorer (21 months old) were enchanted by all the ducks that call this place home. My oldest seemed to be honing his tracking skills by seeing just how close he could come to the ducks before they would scamper off.
After exploring the stream and lake, we headed over to Olympic Forest, mostly because I love trees so much. We hunted for pinecones and ooed and ahhed at all the big trees. Honestly, I almost felt like I was in Yosemite.
Kenneth Hahn SRA makes a great spot for playdates and picnics. There are plenty of traditional play structures to choose from for younger kids; older kids might enjoy hiking the trails.
There is much else to discover here, including more than 150 species of birds, plenty of coastal prickly pear cactus and large areas of native coastal sage scrub habitat. If you make it to the top of the park, you’ll be rewarded with views of the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains, Pacific Coast and all of the Santa Monica Bay.
The best part is that it seems like no one knows this place exists. Seriously, we’ve visited on several occasions and never had a problem with crowds. Which makes it a rare gem in Los Angeles.
- Parking is $6 on weekends and holidays, free on weekdays. Note: This is one of the California State Parks that does not accept the Annual Day Use Pass.
- Park amenities include a fishing lake, stream, waterfalls, four playgrounds, a lotus pond, forested areas as well as open, grassy fields, plus five miles of trails
- Some 100 picnic tables are found throughout the park, along with six restrooms and a community center
- Maps of the park and hiking trail distances are available at the community center, but aren’t very user-friendly; you’re better off exploring the place on your own
- Several parking lots are available, each in close proximity to a different feature of the park
- Start points for most of the park’s hiking trails aren’t clearly labeled, so plan accordingly
Our Tips for a Great Visit
- Let your kids lead the adventure. Your first visit might feel a little overwhelming since there really is a lot to see. Instead of picking one spot to spend your entire visit (like a play structure or the lake), let your kids wander around at their own pace. If you don’t see everything, you can always come back for another visit.
- Remember your sunscreen. Much of this place is not under cover of shade, so be prepared with sun protection for you and the kids.
- Bring a picnic lunch. I know I always say this, but what’s more fun than a meal outside by a lake? Enjoy it at a table or on a blanket, whichever works for you!
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area is located at:
4100 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90056
Directions to Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area