Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area view from western Baldwin Hills; the bridge crosses La Cienega Boulevard and is part of the 13 mi (21 km) Park-to-Playa Trail
Map showing the location of Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
LocationLos Angeles County, California, United States
Nearest cityLos Angeles, California
Coordinates34°0′31″N 118°21′55″W / 34.00861°N 118.36528°W / 34.00861; -118.36528
Area401 acres (1.62 km2)
Governing bodyCalifornia Department of Parks and Recreation

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, or Kenneth Hahn Park, is a state park unit of California in the Baldwin Hills Mountains of Los Angeles. The park is managed by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.[1] As one of the largest urban parks and regional open spaces in the Greater Los Angeles Area, many have called it "L.A.'s Central Park".[2] The 401-acre (1.62 km2) park was established in 1984.[3] The land hs previously been the Baldwin Hills Dam, which catastrophically collapsed in 1963.

“Few Southern Californians seem to know about a park in Baldwin Hills, but the clean, well-developed park is no secret to nearby residents, who enjoy weekend picnics and barbecues on the expansive lawns,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in 1988.[4]


Downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains from Kenneth Hahn SRA

Hahn Park offers walking and hiking trails with some of the area's best scenic vistas.[4]

The park is a destination for picnics and family gatherings, having 100 picnic tables in various picnic grounds around the park. The park also has four playgrounds, a half basketball court, a multi-purpose field, and a sand volleyball court. Garden areas include a Japanese garden with a lotus pond and waterfall.[1] In 2017, a 9-hole disc golf course was added along the north bowl.

There are six sets of bathrooms for visitors.[1] Restrooms are locked at 5:30 p.m. daily.[5]


There is a lake for fishing, stocked monthly with trout or catfish, depending on the weather season.[6]

Since 2004, the park, primarily the bowl, has been the site of the Southern California USATF Cross Country Championships.[7][failed verification]


There are at least 7 mi (11 km) of walking paths through the park.[1] LA County Trails app for Android and iPhone has detailed maps and route guides.[8]

Entrance fee

Admission is charged for cars entering the park on weekends and holidays only (weekdays free). Transferable annual passes are available.

Day rates are $7 per car or $5 for seniors over 65 or disabled with handicapped placard.[5]

There is no charge to visitors using transit or hikers and cyclists entering the park. The county operates a circuit bus that visits the park every half hour on weekends and holidays,[9] and a map of nearby bus routes and bike paths is available.[10]

Kenneth Hahn SRA is one of the few California State Parks that does not accept the “annual day use pass.”[1]


The park is currently home to urban coyotes, California ground squirrel, elusive gray foxes, raccoons, striped skunk, desert cottontail rabbits, opossums, and California quail, among other animals.[4]

“Hummingbirds, hawks, northern mockingbirds and blue scrub-jays flock to Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area,” and the park is a nexus for the Black Birders movement.[11] The Baldwin Hills area is the nesting grounds for 41 species of birds, and the Audubon Society offers monthly birdwatching walks.[12]

The park is immediately adjacent to the 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) Inglewood Oil Field, which, when combined with the parkland, provides an unusually large habit range for Los Angeles urban wildlife. Kenneth Hahn and adjacent Baldwin Hills parks host four species of snakes: gopher snake, California kingsnake, ring-necked snake and red coachwhip. Warning signs to the contrary, rattlesnakes “don’t fare well in urban areas”[13] and there are no rattlesnakes in the Baldwin Hills at this time.[14]

The park's native habitat is the Coastal sage scrub plant community, with oak woodlands in northern arroyos and bunch grass grasslands on the southwestern windy and exposed terrain. Native plants present in the park include California sagebrush, coyote brush and prickly pear. Invasive species in the park include black mustard, castor bean, milk thistle, agave, ice plant, nasturtium, and lantana.[4]

“The native plant community has been greatly altered by the hand of man, so much so that botanists describe Baldwin Hills flora as being in a condition called disclimax,” reported the L.A. Times in 1988.

SRA sign
Olympic forest

To serve as a monument to Los Angeles’ role in the Olympic movement, 140 trees have been planted together on the hills where the 1932 Olympic Village was located, with each tree representing a nation that took part in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.[15]

The Olympic Forest includes “sea hibiscus from Seychelles, oleander from Algeria, sweet bay from Greece, Cajeput from Papua New Guinea…the paper mulberry from Toga, the carob from Cyprus, the date palm from Egypt.”[4]


The Hills

The Baldwin Hills were part of the homeland of the Tongva people, inhabited by them for over 8,000 years.[16] In the 19th century the area was part of the Spanish and Mexican Ranchos of California era, with the Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes and Rancho La Cienega o Paso de la Tijera in and around the present day park.[17] As Los Angeles quickly grew during the 20th century, only the rugged terrain of this section of the Baldwin Hills protected it from being developed.

In 1932 the area east of the park was used as the site of the first Olympic Village ever built, for the 1932 Summer Olympics in the 10th Olympiad, which Los Angeles hosted.[18]

Between 1947 and 1951 the Baldwin Hills Reservoir was built in the hills here. In 1963 the reservoir's dam collapsed disastrously, washing away residences in the canyon and flooding the landmark Baldwin Hills Village (now Village Green). The news coverage of the disaster was the first time aerial footage was televised live.[19] Before the county demolished the ruined reservoir bowl and converted the land into parking and picnic areas circa 1990s, “Fennel, chamise and dandelion pushed through the cracked cement bottom of the reservoir” and it was overlooked by a “observation tower” that resembled “a castle from the Middle Ages.”[4]

The bowl of the reservoir (now called Janice’s Green Valley) has been planted with grass and trees but remains visible and is the site of a popular jogging track.[20]

Further information: Baldwin Hills Dam disaster

In the late 1940s the city transportation master plan included building a new north-south freeway, the aborted Laurel Canyon Freeway-SR-170, that would have bisected the Baldwin Hills and park site where La Cienega Boulevard currently crosses the hills.

Park development

Los Angeles County Supervisors began negotiations to acquire the site of the Baldwin Hills Dam disaster in 1976.[21] In 1977 Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn convinced Vice President Walter Mondale to reuse the land, from former oil-drilling sites, for a public open space park.[citation needed]

At the time the area was also a very popular spot for the then-new sport of motocross, locals calling it “Motorcycle Hill.” An abandoned oil well at the top of the hill was decorated with sparkle lights during the holiday season and looked like a giant Christmas tree at night. [21]

Say’s Phoebe perched atop sign indicating Park to Playa Trail connection.

The park is named after Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Kenneth Hahn, also the father of James Hahn, former Los Angeles mayor, and Janice Hahn, former U.S. Representative and now one of the five County Supervisors.

The Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area first opened in 1983 as the Baldwin Hills State Recreational Area, and was later renamed in 1988 to honor Supervisor Hahn and his preservation efforts there. Also since its opening the park has been expanded, as some of the adjacent oil wells have “dried up” and the oil field land cleaned up and acquired.[citation needed]

The park is home to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Tree Grove.[22]

The park, which is part of the greater Ballona Creek watershed, is now connected to nearby open spaces across La Cienega Blvd. via the Park to Playa Bridge. Hahn Park is a keystone segment of the Park to Playa Trail, completed 2020.[23]

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Kenneth Hahn SRA". California State Parks. Archived from the original on 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  2. ^ Kelly, Therese. "Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw : Case Study". Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  3. ^ "California State Park System Statistical Report: Fiscal Year 2009/10" (PDF). California State Parks: 16. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-07-04. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e f McKinney, John (1988-06-18). "Taking a Stroll Past the Baldwin Hills Oil Field". Los Angeles Times. pp. D4.
  5. ^ a b "Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area". Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation. Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  6. ^ Archived from the original on October 5, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2010. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Cross Country". Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Trails LA County". APPLE App Store. Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  9. ^ "the Link - Baldwin Hills Parklands". Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  10. ^ "Bus and Transit Access Map - Kenneth Hahn Park" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-01-11. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  11. ^ Richard-Craven, Maya (2022-05-09). "Black birders are taking flight in L.A. Here's how to join them". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  12. ^ "Los Angeles Audubon - Bird Walks (Los Angeles, CA)". Meetup. Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  13. ^ Higgins, Lila M. (2019). Wild LA : explore the amazing nature in and around Los Angeles. Gregory B. Pauly, Jason G. Goldman, Charles Hood, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Portland, Oregon. ISBN 978-1-60469-710-0. OCLC 1065819118. Archived from the original on 2022-01-08. Retrieved 2022-08-01.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. ^ "Snakes". Baldwin Hills Nature. 2016-06-15. Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  15. ^ Faris, Gerald (1988-03-26). "300-Acre Wilderness at Home in Midst of Oil Wells, Power Lines, Traffic". Los Angeles Times. pp. I18.
  16. ^ "Prehistoric milling site found in California". USA Today. 2006-03-03. Archived from the original on 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  17. ^ "The old Spanish and Mexican ranchos of Los Angeles County". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2022-02-14. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  18. ^ "1932 Los Angeles Olympic Athlete's Village - Baldwin Hills". Baldwin Hills Info. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  19. ^ Pool, Bob (2003-12-03). "Serene Hilltop Marks Site of Landmark Disaster". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif. Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  20. ^ Higgins, Lila; Pauly, Gregory B. M (2019). Wild L.A.: Explore the Amazing Nature in and Around Los Angeles. Timber Press. ISBN 978-1604697100.
  21. ^ a b "New Park Will Ease Squeeze in Inglewood". Los Angeles Times. 1976-05-06. p. CS1.
  22. ^ Reed, Megan (2018-04-18). "Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is Dedicated in Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area". Archived from the original on 2021-04-14. Retrieved 2021-02-27.
  23. ^ "Trails - Department of Parks and Recreation". Archived from the original on 2022-06-29. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  24. ^ Chandler, Jenna (2016-11-11). "The 'Insecure' filming locations map". Curbed LA. Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.