LAKE ELSINORE, CA – Every week, the LA Trail Hikers get together to explore a different part of Los Angeles.

  • LA trail hikers serving bigger purpose
  • Founder diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes
  • Lives and health enriched through nature

From Lancaster to Lake Elsinore, they hike through mountains, coastal regions and deserts but now its poppy fields. For many members, these hikes service a bigger purpose than to take in the great outdoors.

“Back in 2009, we had started the group, we were just doing this for health and activity,” explains Jason Bazalar, founder of the LA Trail Hikers. “In 2011, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and you know, found out that actually the hiking had been doing a lot of help.” 

Bazalar is a web developer by day and hike guru on nights and weekends. It all started informally as a way to reconnect with friends through a growing appreciation of Los Angeles. 

“And we’re supposed to have some great views up there too,” says Bazalar after snapping a photo. “There’s been a lot of positives over the year. I mean, I’ve met thousands of people. It seems I’ve heard so many stories of how people’s lives have been enriched with nature. How their health has also changed, but ultimately, it’s changed my life by impacting other people in ways I didn’t know I could.”

On average, 10-20 hikers join Bazalar every week and he has had to recruit hike leaders to help manage the group. 

“We’re to leave wildlife alone. We’re not here to disturb nature. We’re here to admire it,” says LA Trail Hike Leader Carol Martinez.

When Martinez joined, she didn’t have much experience hiking, but now she regularly leads the hikes.

“I got started hiking with LA Trail Hikers in 2010,” says Martinez. “I met the group and I started hiking with them. I weighed over 300 pounds at the time and it was a big challenge for me and no matter how hard it was for me, the views and the trails and being out in nature so it totally brought a lot of life to me.”

Los Angeles doesn’t get enough credit as a hiker’s paradise says Bazalar and everybody benefits.

“It’s been amazing to know, you put a little bit of nature in somebody and it flourishes just like this,” says Bazalar as he admires a field of poppies coloring the super bloom. 

From oceans to waterfalls and deserts to trees, nature is open and free.