Los Angeles has a variety of hikes for those seeking a more challenging promenade than Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and these four offer an awe-inspiring perspective on the sprawling city and its nearby mountains.

Chantry Flats to Mount Wilson
This strenuous 14-mile-roundtrip hike in the Angeles National Forest is noted for its soaring views of the Mojave desert to the north and the Los Angeles basin to the south. The trail starts at the Chantry Flats trailhead above the city of Arcadia, 23 miles northeast of LA, and the end-point, Mount Wilson, is a southern California landmark. At 5,710ft high, Mount Wilson stands prominently above the suburb of Pasadena and is home to a vast array of LA radio and television antennae, an observatory and fixed telescopes. On a haze-free day, you can even spot Catalina Island, located 100 miles to the south of Mount Wilson.

The Hollywood sign hike
The big score of this six-and-a-half mile hike is the ultimate holiday snap: the back of the iconic Hollywood sign and a spectacular view of Los Angeles, from downtown all the way to the ocean. The famed sign itself is protected by security cameras and tall fences, but hikers can get within feet of its rarely-seen backside, with 360-degree views from atop the 1,709ft summit of Mount Lee. Start the hike at the trailhead at the end of Canyon Drive in Bronson Canyon Park, Hollywood.

Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa
From the trailhead at the end of Los Liones Drive in Santa Monica, it is a three-mile hike, over rugged single-track trails, through woods and on wide exposed fire roads, to the Parker Mesa Overlook, which grants a catbird seat of LA, from downtown in the east to Rancho Palos Verde in the south. Just below the plateau is the Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean is to the west. The trail is popular with mountain bikers, trail runners and the Sierra Club, an environmental group that meets for a hike every other Friday around the city.

Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak
If you want to feel as though you are sitting on top of the world, tackle this hike to Sandstone Peak. With an elevation of 3,110ft, it is highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains, and has breathtaking views of the Channel Islands in the west, Mount Baldy in the east, Los Padres National Forest in the north and the Pacific Ocean in the south. The trail for the seven-mile loop starts at the trailhead, one mile east of the Circle X Ranch on Yerba Buena Road in western Malibu.

Caroline Pardilla is the Los Angeles Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes Carolineoncrack.com.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Catalina Island is located 100 miles to the south of LA. This has now been fixed.