Hiking in Griffith Park

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    Hiking in Griffith Park

    Hiking in Griffith Park
    ©2010 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.


    When you plop an undeveloped mountain area into the middle of urban sprawl, you get some pretty fantastic views and a perfect place to get away from it all. With Griffith Park's 53-mile network of hiking trails, fire roads, and bridle paths, it's no wonder hiking is one of the most popular things to do there.

    All Griffith Park hiking trails close at dusk. Open fires and smoking are not allowed anywhere in the park. If you remember the disastrous fires of 1961 or 2007, you'll know why.

    West Observatory Trail

    If you're in good shape, it may be easier (and faster) to get to the observatory by hiking the West Observatory Trail. Get the route here. It's a 2-mile hike with a 580-foot elevation gain, on an easy-to-follow fire road. It's a route that I'm itching to try, but I'm thinking about doing it going downhill, taking a Uber or the weekend public bus service runs from the Vermont/Sunset Metro Red Line station to the Griffith Observatory. By the time I get down, I'm thinking the Trails Cafe will be a welcome stop before walking on to Los Feliz.

    Bronson Caves

    The Bronson Caves Trail is one of the easiest in Griffith Park, slightly over half a mile long and with only 95 feet of elevation gain. It leads to a famous filming location that among other things was the "Batman Cave" in the 1960s television series. It starts at the top of Canyon Drive, which is next to the trail to Mount Lee and the Hollywood Sign. You could go out and back on each trail for a double dip of film fun and exercise. 

    Old Zoo Trail

    Some people say the Old Zoo is one of LA's weirdest (or creepiest) places. It was once the zoo, and the ruins of the old animal enclosures make for some of the oddest ruins anywhere. It's also an easy half-mile loop hike that only gains 50 feet, and it's dog-friendly. You can hike there using these directions from Hikespeak.

    Ferndell Trail

    If you're in the mood for a hike through a lush, green environment, this is the one for you. The trail borders a stream that's lined with sycamore trees, which creates a lush, green environment. In fact, you'll find dozens of kinds of ferns flourishing in Ferndell — which makes it obvious how it got its name.

    The Ferndell hike is a half mile round trip, with 65 feet elevation gain. From the top of the trail, you can walk a short distance to the Trails Cafe for a cup of coffee or a snack.

    Or you can extend your outing to the bottom of Western Canyon, which will make it 1.75 miles round trip with 260 feet of elevation change. Hikespeak has all the information you need to do this hike.

    Hike to Amir's Garden

    Amir Dialameh started his Griffith Park garden in 1971 after a major fire in the park, digging with a pick and shovel to carve out a little oasis in the scarred earth. He cared for it for 32 years. Today Amir is gone, but volunteers still care for his garden, and it's one of the best picnic spots in all of Los Angeles, with lots of flowering greenery and fantastic city views. The garden is so well known that it has its own Facebook page and more information on its website.

    The hike starts near the Mineral Wells Picnic Area and is a mile round trip, with 275 feet of elevation change. You can find hiking details at Hikespeak.

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    Hollywood Sign Hikes

    Hollywood sign
    Thomas McConville / Getty Images

    The Hollywood Sign is technically outside the boundaries of Griffith Park, but the trails through the park don't abruptly end where someone drew a line on a map. You can find a couple of Hollywood Sign hiked in the Hollywood Sign Guide. It includes a mostly flat walk around the Hollywood Reservoir that almost anyone could manage.

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    More Griffith Park Hikes

    Hiking in Griffith Park
    David McNew / Getty Images

    So many trails that all interconnect in Griffith Park that you can chalk out hikes there from easy to torturous. These resources may help you find more Griffith Park hikes that meet all your requirements:

    • Guidespot lists four of the best Griffith park hikes, including the hike from Griffith Park Observatory, widely said to be the most rewarding trail in the park. They also include a hike to the Hollywood Sign.
    • Examiner.com has a detailed description of a longer, 6-mile round trip hike to the Hollywood Sign, with enough photos to make you understand why you'd want to do it.
    • At Yelp.com, you can see what other hikers think of some of the Griffith Park hikes.