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Vista Hermosa Natural Park: Exploring Downtown's Newest Open Space

Photo by David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A.
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By David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A. / Special to LAist

Vista Hermosa means “beautiful view” in Spanish, and on clear days, that’s just what this park provides. When the ten-acre park opened in 2008, it was the first new park in downtown Los Angeles in more than one hundred years.

While Vista Hermosa’s tiny size deprives it of the hiking opportunities of nearby Griffith Park and Elysian Fields Park, it provides a quiet spot to sit and enjoy nature in an area that can really use it. Easily accessible to downtown, the park features a 0.4 mile walking path (wheelchair accessible) which is the perfect length for a lunchtime stroll, or a quick walk before or after work.

To be sure, the word “natural” in the park’s name isn’t entirely accurate, as many of the habitats (which include a small waterfall) are man-made. Indeed, the park’s best asset is probably the commanding view of the downtown L.A. skyline, which one often sees only briefly, when driving by it. But Vista Hermosa Natural Park’s purpose is twofold: in addition to bringing downtown L.A. a taste of nature, this unit of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s parkland jurisdiction might well inspire Angelenos to explore some of the more remote outdoor areas not far from their city. The Conservancy offers a free monthly bus shuttle service from the park to the Santa Monica Mountains.

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Vista Hermosa Natural Park’s address is 100 Toluca Avenue in Los Angeles. To get there, use the 3rd St. exit from the 110 Freeway. The park is open from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.