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16 Best lunchtime hikes in the Santa Clarita Valley (When you only have 30-90 minutes)

February 8th, 2023 | 6 min. read

By Jen Azevedo

The Santa Clarita Valley is home to some of the most lovely natural terrain in Southern California. It is part of the chaparral, sage, and woodland ecoregion — home to bobcats, coyotes, desert cottontail rabbits, mule deer, and red-tail hawks. 

Getting outdoors to enjoy this dry land habitat may seem complicated to do. You have work, kids, commutes, errands, and more. With that schedule, who has time for a hike in nature?

The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley that has supported locals in their journey in health and fitness for almost twenty years. As much as our members and staff love the club, we enjoy getting outside to explore the Santa Clarita Valley too.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the SCV’s natural beauty is to hike the local paseos. 

We know you can not always fit in a long three-hour hike. So, in this article, we are focusing on sharing with you the benefits of hiking, why quick hikes are worth it, and where the best hikes in the Santa Clarita Valley are when you are short on time.


What are the benefits of hiking?  

Hiking outdoors breaks up the typical monotony of exercising indoors. It provides unpredictable landscapes and exposure to the elements — and the different terrains can work various muscles in your body.

Hiking outdoors is another great way to explore areas you might not otherwise experience.

Beyond the well-known benefits of exercise (reduced blood pressure, stress, and anxiety), being outside allows you to experience nature, fresh air, and the sun. 

Spending time in natural areas has a host of benefits:

  • Better mood
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved attention
  • Increased empathy 
  • Increased cooperation 
  • Better cognitive functioning
  • Increased sense of happiness
  • Improved overall mental health

Is it worth going on a hike even when you have a short amount of time? 


Sometimes short hikes are the best hikes. Even a quick 2-3 mile hike can increase your heart rate and provide a great workout. 


In the Santa Clarita Valley, you can go on the paseos when breaking up the monotony of working from home, in between errands, or on a lunch break.

A midday hike also gives you a way to refresh and refocus for the latter half of your workday — a healthier alternative to a pastry and another cup of coffee.

What are the best lunchtime hikes in the Santa Clarita Valley?

The Santa Clarita Valley is home to over 100 miles of paseos and 9,000 acres of open land. The combination of urban conveniences with preserved natural areas makes the SCV the great community that it is for residents of all ages. 

Although you may sometimes be pressed for time, there are still ways to get outdoors and enjoy your local wilderness zones. Here is a comprehensive list of the best lunchtime hikes in the Santa Clarita Valley.

1. Central Park

Flanked by a dog park, a baseball diamond, a playground, and a community garden, Central Park has amenities for all. The Central Park Trail is a little 3.1-mile gem right in town. You can hike, bike, or jog this trail, and it is easy to walk portions of it if you don’t have time for all three miles. 


2. East Walker Ranch

East Walker Ranch is home to three short trails of 1.6, 0.9, and 1.1 miles that are easy to complete in under an hour. Located just beyond Placerita Canyon, you will find this 140-acre preserve to be simply beautiful.


3. Elsmere Canyon Loop Trail

Elsmere Canyon Trail is part of a 1200-acre greenbelt that links natural areas together, providing a corridor for wild animals, including deer, bobcats, and deer. The hike is 3.1 miles in length and is a great place for seeing wildflowers in the spring. 

4. Golden Valley Ranch

Golden Valley Ranch has three short trails — and depending on your timeline, you can hike one, two, or all three of them. The trails are spread over 900 acres of oak and chaparral woodland and offer some exciting ascents to make your quick hike fun and exciting. Nadeu trail is 1.7 miles long. The Mitchell trail is only .6 long but fairly steep, and the Placerita trail is the longest at 3.4 miles.  

5. Newhall Pass Open Space

Newhall Pass Open Space has two 1-mile hikes (or sprints!) that you can catch off Old Road. This land is 540 preserved acres that act as a greenbelt and wildlife corridor. 

Placerita Canyon 

Placerita Canyon is a gorgeous part of the California State Park trail system — just the drive to Placerita Canyon will help put you in a peaceful mood. Hikes ranging from easy strolls to lunchtime calorie torchers — any midday slump can get handled here. 

6. Placerita Nature Center Loop: Those looking to get started will enjoy the Placerita Nature Center Loop. At just 1.4 miles, you can bring younger kids along and still be done before anyone is too tired. Check out the Oak of the Golden Dream, where the Gold Rush is said to have begun in 1842. 

7. Placerita Canyon Waterfall Trail: For a longer but gentler trek, you can take the Placerita Canyon Waterfall Trail. The entire trip will take you over 4.5 miles, but you can shorten it as your lunch break dictates. Many trees flank the trail, so shade is plentiful even at noon. If you have the time, head to the end to see a local waterfall (season permitting).


8. Walker Ranch Trailhead: If you are hoping to see the waterfall but do not have an extended lunch break, use the Walker Ranch Trailhead, which offers a more strenuous trail but only 1.5 miles in length. This trail does not permit dogs, but mountain bikes are popular

9. Ecology Trail: If you only have time for a quick walk, then the Ecology Trail’s lollipop-shaped trail is a good choice. It is ⅔ of a mile long, and you can complete it in under an hour. Plants along the trail are marked with signs so you can get a little botany lesson in as you stroll


10. Quigley Canyon

Quigley Canyon is an awesome spot for hiking, with five short trails to choose from . The trails vary between gentle, moderate, and steep. The Coyote Loop and the Rawlins Loop are the most challenging. 

  • City Loop: 0.9 miles 

  • CES Trails: 1.1 miles

  • Fox's Loop: 1.0 miles 

  • Coyote Loop: 1.5 miles 

  • Rawlins Loop: 0.6 miles 

Towsley Canyon 

Towsley Canyon has four trails — a longer one for a fierce lunchtime jog, and shorter ones for moderately challenging hikes. The trails take you through sedimentary rock canyons, called The Narrows, streams, and tar pits, making it a fascinating place to explore.

11. Taylor Trail: This is a 2.5- mile loop trail that takes about an hour or more to complete. This trail is often lightly trafficked, especially midday, providing a peaceful respite from any busyness plaguing you. It is open year-round.

12. Towsley Canyon Loop Trail: This is a 5.1-mile loop off Old Road. At the top of the 5-mile loop, there is a spot that looks out over the entire SCV. This is a great place to grab a photo or even a quick picnic lunch. 

13. Towsley Canyon Short Loop Trail: This is a popular trail with hikers and birders. Dogs are allowed but must be on leashes. If you need to break a sweat but are not a runner, this is a fun 3-mile trail for an hour-long hike. 

14. Elder Loop: At the mouth of Towsley Canyon is the 1.6-mile Elder Loop. The Taylor Trail at .3 miles is adjacent and easy to include in your hike. There is a mix of open, exposed, and shaded areas along the path. 


Whitney Canyon 

15. Whitney Canyon is right in the center of Santa Clarita, making it an easy spot to access for a hike in the middle of the day. Whitney Canyon Park encompasses 422 miles of sage scrub, chaparral, oak, and year around springs. The trail is a 2.9 mile out and back, so you can stroll as much or as little of it as you want. It’s a popular spot, and you will likely see others — including equestrians. 


Wildwood Canyon

16. Wildwood Canyon Trail is a little refuge in the southern part of the Santa Clarita Valley. It is only 95 acres, which is one of the smaller open areas of the valley, but it is still worth exploring. Much of the trail is in the shade, and there are scenic vistas to reward your efforts. The trail is 2.3 miles long with just over 900 feet in elevation, making it a great short hike option. 

How to enjoy your next lunchtime hike in the Santa Clarita Valley

In this article, you have learned why hiking and being outdoors is beneficial, and where you can go on quick hikes in the Santa Clarita Valley. 

We hope you feel inspired to hit the trails soon. One way to be ready to hike is to throw your gear in a backpack and place it in the trunk of your car so you can leave at a moment's notice.

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • Hiking boots
  • Hat with brim
  • Thick, moisture-wicking socks
  • Identification books of animals, plants, and trees

A fun activity to do on your hikes is to learn to identify trees, plants, animals, and birds. You can use identification books or apps for this. The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority offers a free Butterflies of Towsley Canyon brochure. 

When you are not out on a hike, come to the Paseo Club. The Paseo Club is the community hub for people who value social connections and being healthy and fit. 

The Club offers over 60 fitness classes each week. There are also tennis and pickleball courts, a junior Olympic pool, a cafe, and a spa.

View Athletic Calendar

If you are looking for a place to expand your social network and try out some new ways to exercise, then the Paseo Club may be just the place for you. Schedule a tour today!

Schedule a Tour

To learn more about the Santa Clarita Valley, check out these three articles. 

Jen Azevedo

Jen Azevedo is a person of many talents. She is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!