A completely subjective list of four fabulous hiking trails in breathtaking Griffith Park.
WELCOME TO GRIFFITH PARK
Griffith Park is a gem sitting right in Los Feliz’s backyard. Sprawling some 4,000+ acres, it’s the largest publicly owned park in the United States.
In terms of what to wear on the trails, I’ve literally seen it all. There are some brave fashionistas out there who sport jeans and slip-on shoes, and I applaud their ability to pull it off. I, myself, am a sneaker/workout pants/T-shirt kind of gal. What can I say? I like mobility and comfort.
There are a few things I would strongly suggest arming yourself with as you head out to the trails. Bring an ample amount of sunscreen. Many of the trails leave you exposed to the sun and, although it can be argued that a little tan looks good, skin cancer is so 1989. I would also recommend bringing bug repellent, as dense vegetation often equals visits from pesky, flying friends.
The other half of my two cents is that it’s important to remember that, as with any patch of wilderness, it’s entirely possible to run into wildlife, including snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, and foxes. So show off that big brain of yours and hike with awareness and common sense.
Here, I’ve offered my completely biased and totally unsolicited opinions about what I refer to as
“The Fabulous Four” – my four favorite hiking trails in Griffith park. As an avid hiker living in the neighborhood, I’ve had the opportunity to explore much of the park. I’ve discovered that many of the trails have offshoot paths and steep, shortcut climbs that spice things up. There are also dozens of trail combinations within the park, providing a tremendous amount of variety, which keep regular visitors from ever getting bored.
Even if you don’t agree with my personal faves, there is no disputing that Griffith Park is the perfect setting for urban hiking, beautifully blending nature and spectacular city views.
So get out there and enjoy, my fellow L.A.-lovers. I look forward to seeing you on the trails!
This hike provides you with a hefty dose of instant gratification. After going west on Franklin Avenue and turning right on Beachwood Drive, you drive until the pavement ends and then continue a short way past the gate to find parking on your right. Within 100 feet of your hike up, there is a breathtaking canyon view straight in front of you and a money shot of the famous Hollywood sign to your right.
As you continue up
the dirt path, you’ll notice the air becomes ripe with the scent of Sunset
Horse Ranch on your left. I really enjoy sharing this stretch with our equestrian friends, but keep your eyes open for certain “gifts” the horses have left behind. Taking the hairpin turn up ahead to the left, you come to a fork that marks the beginning of the paved fire road.
Here, you have to option of going down to the left, which guides you along some pretty flat terrain and brings you underneath the front of the Hollywood sign. This is, by all accounts, a pretty spectacular view.
I, however, prefer to go up to the
right, as it lends itself to a more unique vantage point. You get to take in Burbank and the San Fernando Valley on the way up, and end up standing behind the famous Hollywood sign. It’s exciting enough to see those famous letters in person
from the front, but to have the chance to view them from this particular
hideaway spot that few in the world even know about is an extra thrill for L.A.
long-time residents alike.
A short walk from
there brings you to the summit of Mt. Lee, and I suggest you bring something to catch your saliva because you’ll be drooling over the view. It’s nothing short of absolutely
impressive to see the entire L.A. Basin, including a spectacular view of the
Hollywood Resevoir, sprawling out in front of you. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed with this trail.
What’s in a name? Just the entire description of this particular trail, that’s all. There’s brush and there’s canyon. How I love a straightforward name. I love this trail because it is one of the unsung heroes of Griffith Park. Driving west on Franklin Avenue, you turn right on Bronson Avenue and drive past two playgrounds on either side of the road. Your best bet for parking is to leave your car in any of the available lots on the right side of the road and walk down the remainder of the paved street, straight past the vehicle gate. You’ll instantly be calmed by the serene surroundings. The variety of lush, green trees and shrubs that hover in a canopy over the dirt path brings something of an east-coast flavor to the trail, and there’s a lovely little stream to your right that is a treat to walk along.
The woodsy feel opens up as the canyon takes you to a groovy little feature of this trail -a dragon-painted skateboarding ramp used by the local skaters. Around the next bend, you come across a small clearing on your right, popular with the dog community and their owners. The lull of skateboard wheels and playful pets grows ever fainter as you come out to green, sloping canyon walls pressed against a Crayola-crayon blue sky. Only pieces of the Hollywood sign are visible to your left, and you almost forget you’re in L.A. Now, don’t get nervous, my fellow urbanites – I said almost. Turn around and you’ll quickly be comforted by the view of the city, which broadens as you climb higher.
This is canyon country, people! Enjoy the sweet embrace of the hills around you as you follow the subtle curves to the top of this moderate climb that offers up an overview of Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign.
This starlet of a trail may very well be the darling of Griffith Park. This trail gets a lot of traffic because it’s so accessible and has a big pay off view. Taking Fern Dell Drive off of Los Feliz Boulevard, you can park anywhere along the curb and immediately start enjoying the expansive grassy area. It’s easy to get your Zen on as you meander over to the tree-trimmed sidewalk and head away from Los Feliz Boulevard. Adorable wooden bridges and serene little waterfalls greet you, and a path along a babbling brook leads you to a picnic area nestled in the trees to your right. Continuing on to the right, you come to a fork in the path. The trail to the left is the longer and steeper of the two. It offers a steady, gradual climb that winds its way up the mountain. The trail to the right offers a shorter and slightly less intense hike, as well as a steep shortcut trail, peppered with rocks. Whichever you choose, both trails are extremely manageable and rewarding, as both bring you to a sublime overlook spot, showing off the glory of L.A. Once at the lookout spot, continue shooting straight up to the Griffith Observatory and mentally prepare to be spoiled by the view. Looking out from the Observatory’s balcony, there are mountain peaks to your left, the Hollywood sight to your right, and the splendor of the city front and center. It’s no wonder this locale was showcased in James Dean’s movie, Rebel Without A Cause. This trail also offers you the chance to head inside the Observatory, check out the many exhibits it has to offer, and take advantage of the water fountains and restrooms. How can you go wrong with a great trail, some planetary insight, and a bathroom break?
This trail, a.k.a. Charlie Turner’s Trail, is my favorite. While I thoroughly enjoy the others, this one is the mac daddy of Griffith Park trails in my book. There are several reasons why this trail is head and shoulders above the rest. First, it’s extremely well-marked, making it easy to find and follow. It also serves up generous helpings of both stunning canyon slopes and jaw-dropping panoramic views of the entire metro area. To top it off, it’s one of the easiest ascents to hike, as it’s more of a level stroll than an upward climb. Put all of these factors together, and you have the perfect trail to impress out-of-town guests. Drive up to the Observatory and park your car towards the back of the parking lot. Walking away from the Observatory, you’ll see a blue sign that clearly reads, “Mt. Hollywood Hiking Trail – Charlie Turner Trailhead”. The hike starts off with a lovely picnic area, dedicated to the good people of our sister city, Berlin, Germany. You mosey straight, cross a white stone-lined bridge and continue on, catching glimpses of the Hollywood sign on your left. You arrive at the beginning of the loop and I recommend going around to the right. In just minutes, you stumble upon Dante’s view. This picturesque spot offers gardens, picnic tables, and outstanding scenery. This is a marvelous little spot to enjoy solo, with friends, or as a date destination. Once you’ve had your fill of this little nook (if that’s even possible), continue right, hugging the mountain on the main path. Soon, you’ll be greeted by views of Burbank and the San Fernando Valley. Continue spiraling up and around until you come to the top where you’re welcomved by a vantage point that enables you to soak in the sights of the entire metro area, including Hollywood, downtown, Burbank, and the San Fernando Valley. The Observatory also remains in view, majestically perched upon its throne of a hill.
Where’s Leonardo DiCaprio screaming, “I’m king of the world!” when you need him?
I guarantee you’ll be awe struck drinking in the magnificence of the greater Los Angelos region.
You can hike this trail before daybreak, and then watch sun rise. Great view, good hike. I hadn’t hiked in a long time so this was a good way to restart hiking. Flashlight! lots of early hikers so safe
I recommend picking up Robert Stone’s book,
“Day Hikes Around Los Angeles”, the 4th edition. He provides readers with a brief description of the specifics of each trail, maps of the trails, and clear driving directions to get to each one.