Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Getting up close and personal with the back of the Hollywood sign, with views over Los Angeles, is an excellent way to get acquainted with the topography of the city. The iconic sign is located in the Hollywood Hills, within Griffith Park. A hiking trail wraps around the sign giving the visitor views over the city, the San Fernando Valley, and the mountains beyond. It takes 2-3 hours to complete the trail and it is not too difficult. Bring sunblock, water, a hat and comfortable walking shoes.
For more photos of this fun hike, take a look at the travelogue: "Hiking in Griffith Park."
My Grandma said that in all the years she had lived in the Los Angeles area she had never been to Griffith Park so we hopped in the car and took a drive there. Being as I with with my Grandma who is in her late 90s, I didn't have an opportunity to do any hiking but it was a beautiful drive up to the top where the observatory is. On the way down, you get a beautiful view of the Observatory but unfortunately I was driving so I didn't get a shot.
The art deco Griffith Park Observatory recently reopened after several years of renovation but was closed the day we were there. Currently reservations are required so we probably wouldn't have gotten in anyway, you should check in advance if you want to go.
I'm not sure if on a regular day you can park up near the observatory as parking is limited at the top of the hill but if you can and are so inclined you can make the 3 mile round trip hike up to the top of Mt. Hollywood from here, it looked like a very steep climb. There's also a splendid view of the "Hollywood" sign, the best view I've seen yet.
Griffith Park is named after mining tycoon Col. Griffith J. Griffith who donated 3,000 acres to form the park in 1896, additional land purchases of another 1,000+ acres made it the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the US. Lots of movies and TV shows have been filmed in Griffith Park due to it's proximity to where many of them are filmed.
There's lots of other stuff we didn't check out, LA's oldest merry-go-round, the Greek Theatre, the Autry National Center and a section of the park called Ferndale as well as opportunities for picnics, jogging, biking, golfing and hiking. The Los Angeles Zoo is also close by.
Directions to the Park can be found here We got there from highway 134, taking the Victory Boulevard exit and just followed the well marked signs.
Griffith Park is a beautiful place to hike, ride horses and picnic. It hosts a terrific zoo, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, a beautiful Golf Course, a Train Museum, pony rides for kids, a beutifully restored Merry-Go-Round, concerts, the observatory, a hiking path to the Hollywood Sign ... the list is exhausting!
It also, some would say, holds a curse and several restless spirits.
Many years ago, the area now know as Griffith Park was inhabited by Native Americans. Small pox and the Spanish conquest for large ranches resulted in the untimely deaths of thousands. Some say those spirits still roam parts of the park.
In the mid-1800's, the lands owner, Don Antonio Feliz, died of small pox and left the land to his friend Don Coronel who systematically sold off the land. Feliz's 17-year old blind niece, heart-broken over being given nothing in her uncle's will, is said to have put a curse on the land.
Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, the park's last private owner, deeded the land to Los Angeles to be used as a public space. He was a terrible alcoholic who, in his constant stupor, came to the conclusion that his wife and the pope were plotting to poison him. In a drunken rage, he shot his wife in the eye. Amazingly, she survived. Even more amazing, his sentence for attempted murder was a little over a year in prison. He had done great damage to his reputation and would never recover, not even when he erected the Griffith Park observatory.
So as you enjoy Griffith Park, I know you'll sense the years of fun that millions of people have enjoyed. But, should things grow quiet, I wonder if you might sense the presence of someone who's experience with the park hasn't been so great.
park in the old zoo picnic area and enter the park's interior through the old zoo trail where you find a small dirt path through a broken fence and climb up a really steep incline which ends up being a shortcut to the fern canyon trail.
lot's of wild life: a baby deer, a coyote, a lizard and a bunny rabbit! roughly 3 hours and your legs will sure feel all 3 the next day.
Distance: 3 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 650 ft
Hike Time: 2 hours
this is a fairly easy climb. start out late and the sun gets quite strong. getting to the top affords you 360 degree views. you get a birdseye view of the palos verdes peninsula to the san gabriel mountains, downtown LA to the pacific ocean, and the hollywood sign.
enter the park thru vermont and park immediately after the tunnel before the observatory. use the trail on the southern side of the mountain.
oh and you do share the trail with rattlers and horses. you may not see any when you go but you'll have to watch for the 'calling cards' they've dropped. hehehh
From the 101 in Los Angeles, take the Vermont exit and head North until you reach the end of the road in Griffith Park. Pass under the tunnels, then park.
You can drive or hike up to Griffith Observatory, then follow the trail even farther to get a nice view of the LA basin. If you are very adventrous, kept following the trail towards the Hollywood sign and you will end up just under it.
If are driving on Los Feliz Blvd (Exit from Hwy 5) westbound you will see a couple of entrances to Griffith Park. Enter the park on Fern Dell Drive. Follow the road up the hill and park in the diagonal parking spots on the right. Walk into the park area and you will find a trailhead leading up to Griffith Observatory.
Well, from mid-November until about the end of December the Los Angelers Department of Water & Power (DWP) puts on a big light festival within Griffith Park. It is ussually open from 5Pm to 10PM and on weekends (Fri & Sat mostly, but Sundays sometimes, too), it gets really crowded as you near Christmas.
You slowly drive down a road and there is about 1/2 mile of lights in shapes of elves, santas, reindeer, and LA landmarks. Unfortunately, many of the lights are a little dated, with one of the big LA landmarks being teh LA forumn, where the Lakers & Clippers used to play, but no more. ANyway, there is Christmas music playing the whole way through over a series of loudspeakers.
It definitely putrs me in the Christmas spirit, which can be difficult in LA sometimes since there is no snow.
Exit Los Feliz Blvd on Hwy 5, and go west. turn right into the park at the first stoplight and follow the signs (it's a straight drive up the road to the lights).