Posts tagged griffith park
Glendale Peak - Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Ca

Between the holidays, a trip to Mexico, an unforgiving work schedule and my current state of sickness I haven't had a whole lot of time to dedicate to hikeology. Thankfully, we are in the middle of a much needed long weekend which finally gives me the opportunity to finally catch up!

To kick off the end of this dry spell, I want to share a wonderful moderate 3.5 mile out and back hike through Griffith Park up to Glendale Peak. I love this trail because it's easily accessible, offers some spectacular views and is low on foot traffic compared to a lot of the other hikes through Griffith Park. 

The trailhead begins on a fire road just opposite Greek Theatre on Vermont Canyon Road. Parking is easy to find as there are many spots lining the right side of the street right in front of the trail. You will jump right into a noticeable incline, but after about 0.2 miles the trail plateaus where you will gain great views of downtown LA to the south and the Greek Theater just below you. Being a regular patron to the Greek Theater, I really enjoy this different vantage point where you get the chance to look out over the little amphitheater tucked away in the trees.  

From here you will continue to follow the fire road until you descend upon a three way junction. To your right, there is a firewood that delves deeper into the canyon and to your right, another trail that leads you past the golf course and tennis court. Ignore these trails on either side of you can continue straight to the trail that quickly ascends up the side of the mountain.

You will follow this fire road until you reach the 1.3 mile point in your hike. Here you will find the trail intersecting with Vista de Valle Drive which is a paved road. You will also notice a green building on your left hand side, make a hard left at the building and continue your climb along the fire road.

As you make your way up the fire road your views of the Griffith Park Observatory will begin to open up and soon you will find yourself upon a small wooden footbridge to your left and a little blue sign (that has unfortunately been graffitied) to your right. 

While the footbridge is intriguing, ignore that (for now - it's a great place for photos when you're doubling back down) and follow the inconspicuous Henry's Trail to your right. This trail is dedicated to Henry Shamma, who was a Sierra Club member and avid writer who spent many years leading hikes up to Glendale Peak and tirelessly maintaining other trails throughout Griffith Park.

You will immediately notice a difference in the terrain. This single trail trail is a bit more rugged than the rest of your hike, but it doesn't last very long so don't be dissuaded by the awkwardly eroding staircase before you. 

While you continue to follow the single track trail to the top of Glendale Peak you will find the views only continue to get better and better. Once at the peak, you will have access to full 360º views spanning from downtown LA, to the Pacific, the San Grabriels and the Valley below.

I found this spot to be incredibly calming. With the lack of foot traffic, you're likely to have the views to yourself, which is a rare thing in Griffith Park. We sat for a long while up there in silence, simply enjoying the scenery and the serenity of it all. Once you're done taking it all in, simply follow the trail back the way you came.

How to get there: Head north on Vermont Avenue into Griffith Park. As you continue north through the park you will pass the Greek Theater on your left and notice parking along the right side. The trailhead will be on the east side of Vermont just past the theater.

Address2715 N Vermont Canyon Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Wisdom Tree & Cahuenga Peak - Los Angeles, CA

This has become one of my favorite trails in Griffith Park! This particular trail differs from many of the others you'll come across in Griffith Park. This trail is much more rugged, steep and rocky - so make sure you wear appropriate shoes. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people out on the trails with inadequate shoes and unhappy looks on their faces. 

Anyway, to get to the trail head you'll begin by parking along Lake Hollywood Drive. You shouldn't have much trouble finding a spot. From your parking spot head east on Wonder View Drive and head up the hill with beautiful homes to your left and the reservoir below to your right. Continue past the yellow gate and then about .4 miles in from your start the paved road will dead end and you will see the trail head ahead marked by a plaque (only...the plaque seems to be missing these days). 

As soon as you hit the trail it gets right into it. The trail is clearly marked and easy to follow, but you'll ascend nearly 725 feet before you've even gone a full mile. As I mentioned before, it's very steep and crumbly - so watch your footing and don't rush. Right off the bat you'll think you're getting some amazing views of the Hollywood Reservoir, and you are... but the views only open up and get better as you make your way toward the top. Eventually you'll be able to make out everything from the Observatory, to Downtown LA and all the way out to the Pacific.

Around 0.8 miles in the trail will switch back and take you west up the last leg of the trail. This area is the most strenuous - it is even more steep and the ground is extremely loose. Follow this trail to the top of the ridge. To the West on the ridge you will see the "Wisdom Tree" and from here you'll get some of the most spectacular views of the Los Angeles basin. 

Heading west, follow the trail to the "Wisdom Tree". According to... everything I've read on the internet... this tree is pretty dang special. The story goes that the Wisdom Tree (or as some call it the Magic Tree, The Giving Tree or even the Tree of Life) on the summit of Burbank Peak was the only tree left standing after a crippling wildfire fire here in 2007. That fire burned hundreds and hundreds of acres in and around Griffith Park - but not that lone tree! Here you can take in some gorgeous views of Los Angeles to the South and the Valley to the North. We were up here during what I like to call "the magic hour" - that moment JUST before sunset - and the way the sun was hitting the San Gabriel Mountains and the haze (see: smog) that hangs just over the city buildings is really something to be seen. 

At the base of the Wisdom Tree you'll find a couple of trail register boxes. These boxes are filled with notes from fellow hikes and travelers from all over! Find a blank space in a notepad or piece of paper and leave a note, a word of wisdom orrrr shamelessly promote your hiking website, like I did. 

After you take it all in at the tree head east down the ridge trail toward Cahuenga Peak. Through this area you will notice that the northern slopes are still recovering from the 2007 wildfire damage. Scorched remnants of trees and shrubs line the trail. The Cahuenga Peak also holds a bit of history to it. In the 1930's it was purchased by Howard Hughes who wanted to build a home atop it for Ginger Rogers. She declined his offer, and some decades later a group of investors decided to try to build a housing development there as well. Thankfully the citizens of Los Angeles would not stand for this. In April of 2010, Cahuenga Peak was saved from further development by the Save the Sign Campaign. The organization purchased the peak and donated it to LA so that it could become part of Griffith Park. Pretty neat, eh? 

Around the 1.5 mile mark, the trail reaches a small clearing which marks the summit of Cahuenga Peak. 

From this point, you can continue to follow the eastward trail toward Mount Lee and check out the Hollywood Sign. We didn't go on from this point, which is why our trip only totaled around 3 miles - so if you DO continue on keep in mind, it will just about double your mileage.

If you decide that this is the end of the road for you, simply head back along the trail the way you came. I do warn, be especially careful on your way down!

How to get there: On the 101 Freeway you will take the Barham Boulevard exit and drive north for about .3 of a mile. Make a right at the light onto Lake Hollywood Drive. Follow this meandering road for about a half a mile until it intersects with Wonder View Drive. Park along Lake Hollywood Drive (check the signs) and begin hiking eastward up Wonder View Drive. (If head another quarter mile down Lake Hollywood Drive, you will find The Hollywood Reservoir trailhead)

Address: Wonder View Drive & Lake Hollywood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068

BEE ROCK & OLD LA ZOO - GRIFFITH PARK - LOS ANGELES, CA

I woke up this morning intending on taking a nice leisurely 4 mile hike - and by my own fault ended up with a long 7 miler. Good news is, I don't regret it one bit. I'm quite happy with the results of the two hours I spent exploring the trails of Griffith Park that I had never seen before. 

This post is going to discuss two locations within Griffith Park - Bee Rock and the abandoned Old LA Zoo. Two must-sees if you haven't gotten around to it yet - I can't believe it took me this long!

Just a warning - as mentioned before - this is probably the longest possible route to get to Bee Rock. I'm pretty positive there is a more direct trail, but I missed a step in my directions and wound up hiking about 5 miles before found the rock. Still, I recommend this way - you happen upon so many great vistas of both downtown Los Angeles and Glendale/Burbank.

Anyway, I started my hike in the main parking lot for the Merry-Go-Round (I'll give precise directions at the bottom of this post). From there I headed out the entrance to the lot and hung a right on to the paved road. Not far from there you will come to a junction - one path will lead you straight ahead (this path is paved) and the other two will lead you past a caged water basin. Take the path to the left past the water basin.

Not long after you make your way down this path you'll come upon some stairs. I chose to take the stairs knowing that this nice little path that leads you to an old Boy Scouts Amphitheater - otherwise you can continue up the fire road and end up in the same area. 

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From this point I continued up the second set of stairs just behind the amphitheater - this is where I my hike went wrong (or right...). My directions told me to hang a right, but I for some reason I went left instead. I'm fairly certain if you DO go right, the hike is much shorter and you just continue to follow the fire roads up the mountain until you reach Bee Rock (you won't be able to miss it if you head up this direction). If you want to continue my way (which is obviously the best way, duh) take the left! 

Once you make your left, you will continue up gradually ascending windy path. Here the trails were pretty busy with dog walkers and trail runners. 

Continue to follow this path on and on and on until you finally reach a four way junction. This is where I started to do some exploring because I finally realized I had strayed from my initial directions and figured I should just make the most of it. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of this junction, but basically you will find a path leading to your left up a steep hill, a path directly in front of you leading downward, and then two paths to your right (one high and one low). 

If you're interested in a nice view of downtown and the 5 freeway head left and up the steep hill rocky hill. When you reach the top you will not be disappointed by the awesome panoramic views! 

After spending a few minutes exploring this lookout area I decided to head back down the way I came and back toward the junction. With my back to the steep hill, I continued to head straight on the higher path of the two that were originally on my right (hope that makes sense...).

This trail offered some shade from the intense sun which was nice. About a 1/4 mile along this trail I happened upon a water station and another large paved road. 

Again, I was really just guessing at this point, but I decided to take a left and briefly follow what looked like an experience hiking couple. I'm glad I did - this route had some seriously great views of the West side as well. 

This is where my hike started to feel never ending. After following the bend past the views of the Griffith Observatory I continued along the paved road. Other than a few cyclists and a hiker here or there, I was basically on this road for a good mile by myself. Luckily, there was a lot to look at through this area. Views of downtown, a few foot bridges above and some interesting rock formations. I even spotted a large hawk perched high in a tree. Eventually I made out what I was hoping to be Bee Rock off in the distance so I continued on my way. 

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Bee Rock in the distance. 

Bee Rock in the distance. 

I was probably on this paved road for about 1.5 miles before I finally reached the entrance out to the rock formation. There is a small trail, just past the trashcan and trail signs that leads down some steps and out along a ridge that is fenced in. Follow the path along the fence and you've reached the top of Bee Rock! 

It's a bummer the whole thing is fenced in and graffitied - still offers great views and a nice place to rest and take it all in for a moment. Once you've spent some time here and taken all your photos head back up the same trail you that you came down. After you get to the top of the stairs hang an immediate right down the paved road. Soon you will come to an area where a dirt trail splits off from the paved road to the right (just before you reach the water tower) take the dirt road - this will begin your descent back down to the bottom of the park. 

Just about here you'll be wondering, where the heck is this abandoned zoo (if you haven't seen it before)!? Yeah - those were my thoughts as well. At this time in the hike, you've already covered about 5 miles! It's probably about another 1.5 miles to the bottom - but luckily it's all downhill and smooth sailing from there. 

As you near the bottom of the trail you'll come up behind a sign that reads "Bill Eckert Trail" (on the opposite side from you) hang a right there and then after a few steps make your way to the left where you'll find a fence beneath some trees  - follow the little path along the fence until you come across a pedestrian doorway. This will lead you down to a pic-nic area. 

When you reach the pic-nic area make your way to the right past the pic-nic benches and stairs and up the small incline. Here you will find the abandoned zoo! Here you can explore the old dens and cages that the animals used to be held in. It's a great photo opp. I only wish I hadn't been alone so I could get some more photos!

When you're all finished exploring here, simply make your way back down through the pic-nic area and out towards the parking lots. You may notice some Merry-go-round music! Follow the sound of music and pop on by this area for a quick ride, or reward yourself with some snacks and refreshments after your long hike!

How To Get There: Where Crystal Springs and Los Feliz Blvd. meet head north on Crystal Springs into Griffith Park. You will drive past the pony rides and travel down and then about 1.5 miles in, you'll see signs for the Merry-go-Round. Take a left onto the road toward the Merry-go-Round and park in the big lot. Try to find a shady spot so your car isn't scorching when you return!

Tips For The Trail:

  • Bring a large bottle of water! You will need it. 
  • Load up on the sunscreen! The majority of this hike is very exposed!
  • Pack some cash - there are concessions at the end of this journey!
  • Wear a good solid pair of athletic shoes - if you want to crawl out to the tip of Bee Rock you will want to have a pair with good traction. It can be a little slippery and it's easy to lose your footing out there.
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Fern Dell to Griffith Observatory - Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA
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Griffith Park is filled with amazing little hikes - one of my favorite being the Fern Dell trail. I am so fond of this trail because it offers the best of both worlds.

Fern Dell consists of two distinct sections. The first, lower section, is a lush tropical garden bursting with wild flowers, succulents and ferns. The trail follows a creek that is full of crawfish and goldfish with rustic footbridges and benches along the way. It's hard to believe you're actually in Los Angeles as you stroll through this area. 

Soon the trail opens up to a nice (dusty) shaded pic-nic area. Just past the pic-nic area you'll find a few trails that lead out to the sunlight - a vastly different hiking experience from the beginning of your trip. The hike up to the observatory is generally exposed, so make sure you layer on the sunscreen and are ready to sweat because it's all uphill from here! 

At this point I recommend taking the trail to the left up towards the Observatory - the trail on the right hand side is a bit steeper and more exposed (if you prefer you can follow this trail from the top junction back down to the bottom to make a loop). 

Eventually as you make your way up the mountain you'll come to a junction. If you are facing the junction you'll notice it splits into three different directions - left leads you back down to Fern Dell, middle dead ends just beneath the Observatory and the right trail leads you directly up to the Observatory - the right hand trail is the one you want to continue with. 

Not long after this you will reach the Observatory! I highly recommend exploring and taking in the views from here. Once you're finished simply follow the trail back down to the bottom - they all pretty much spit you back out to where you started!

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How to get there: From Los Feliz Blvd. (a block east of where Western Ave. dead ends into Los Feliz), turn north onto Fern Dell Drive. Follow Fern Dell Drive about a quarter of a mile in and you notice parking along the street.