After months of Los Angeles residents having limited options for recreation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Park to Playa Trail is complete just in time to offer Angelenos a long-awaited and safe opportunity to explore the outdoors.
The 13-mile trail connects the Baldwin Hills Parklands to the Pacific Ocean via the Stocker Corridor, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, Stoneview Nature Center, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, and Ballona Creek Bike Path. It represents the first regional trail in South Los Angeles, and the entire Second Supervisorial District of the County of Los Angeles.
To celebrate the trail’s completion and grand opening, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hosted a socially-distanced ribbon cutting with partnering public agencies and community members, followed by an inaugural hike across the brand–new pedestrian bridge that crosses La Cienega Blvd and connects Hahn Park to the Stoneview Nature Center.
“When we broke ground on this trail 8 months ago—the world looked entirely different. Despite this, some things remain the same, or perhaps have become even more important,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The value of human connection and opportunities to experience the beauty of our natural environment has become paramount to our wellbeing. Today we celebrate the Park to Playa Trail, which represents the best of what public agencies can do, when they come together, to create special spaces and experiences for our community.”
The trail was built in seven different segments over the past ten years, with the connection between Hahn Park and the Stoneview Nature Center representing the final segment—and previous missing link—to the now seamless trail.
“Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas understands that trails connect people not only to the outdoors but to each other–and this bridge stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to community engagement and empowerment,” said the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation Director, Norma E. García-González. “The Park to Playa Bridge and Trail will become a destination for hikers and nature lovers; a recreational route for the community that will join together Hahn Park and Stoneview Nature Center, onto the Ballona Creek and finally to the Pacific Ocean, forming a 13-mile trail. It even includes a wildlife corridor, a landscaped path for small animals to cross La Cienega Blvd.”
Baldwin Hills Conservancy Executive Officer David McNeill added, “Not only will this connection provide a safe elevated crossing for pedestrians and bicycles, it creates an opportunity for wildlife to visit both ridgelines which increases the region’s biodiversity. While the ongoing expansion of Baldwin Hills Parklands has brought a lot of openings, the anticipation from the public for this bridge has been higher than I have seen in years. The Conservancy has been getting emails and calls for months leading up to this day. We’re just grateful the final piece of Park to Playa has come to fruition.”
In its entirety, the trail amounts to a $23 million investment in outdoor recreation for the Baldwin Hills and surrounding communities. An additional $20.5 million was invested in new amenities along the trail, including in the creation of the Stoneview Nature Center, Milton Street Park, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Tree Grove, as well as the transformation of the community center at Hahn Park into a state-of-the-art Interpretive Center in addition to a variety of other accessibility, habitat restoration, and recreational improvements within the parklands.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas worked in partnership with the County Departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works, the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, the Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority, and the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority to complete the trail, which spans multiple jurisdictions, including the cities of Culver City and Los Angeles, and State Parks property.
“As the County’s builder, LA County Public Works is constantly looking for ways to improve a community’s quality of life through investments in public infrastructure,” Los Angeles County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella said. “Nearly 60 percent of workers on this project are from the community—which means the bridge has both connected communities and created local jobs.”
“Today we take stock of what we have accomplished. This bridge and trail have more than just a practical use—they have a symbolic one. The Park to Playa Trail connects us, not just to nature, but to each other,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.
With the trail complete and ready for visitors, the only question that remains is: how will you Park to Playa?
For more information visit: trails.lacounty.gov/Trail/237/park-to-playa-trail.