If you live on the Westside, it’s easy to get complacent about all the wonderful hiking available in the Santa Monica Mountains, which affords plenty of butt-kicking ascents to views of Catalina, as well as easy access off Sunset Boulevard. But, if you’re willing to drive east for some new vistas, there is much to explore – especially in Griffith Park, where the network of hiking trails above Bronson Canyon offer amazing 360 degree views of Los Angeles and the Valley.
We explored Griffith Park and gazed out over our “City of Stars” on the morning of this year’s Academy Awards. After the rains, the canyons were green as emeralds and the misty views of the city were magical. Dogs, kids, and especially out-of-towners will appreciate the variety and scope of this adventure through the 4200 acres of our urban park, which includes multiple views of the Hollywood Sign. Our favorite vista, though hard to choose, was looking down on the magnificent Griffith Observatory. Sitting like royalty on the edge of the city side of Griffith Park, the beautiful building looks as perfect from above as it does from below. Featured recently in La La Land, the Observatory should be on every Angeleno’s bucket list, and the view from above underlines its beauty.
Mount Hollywood rises 1625 feet above the city with sweeping views from the sea to downtown, around to Glendale and Burbank, then all the way back around to the northern end of the Valley. The gentle hills between Mount Hollywood and Burbank, including the rise on which the Hollywood sign sits, border the area where hikers roam, and this protected area has dozens of trails to explore.
Hikespeak is a website that details the many options for this area, so poke around to determine the elevation and duration of a hike for your crew. Many of the trails connect and there is enough visibility from one to the next that it’s easy to navigate.
We spent several hours exploring the hills, departing from Bronson Canyon and ascending to Mount Hollywood, gazing over to Mount Lee and the Hollywood sign, and wandering back around for some Valley vistas before returning to explore Bronson Caves. So many groups were on the trails, from elite runners churning uphill to old ladies hanging on each others arms, to families out for a Sunday stroll to groups on horseback. Unlike the Westside trails, which are more uniformly Patagonia-styled, Griffith’s environs are enjoyed by every ethnic group in the city. It’s a true pleasure to witness such a diverse swatch of Angelenos enjoying the park.
Better known as the Bat Cave, this touristy attraction is a quick stroll from the base parking lot at Bronson Canyon. The area was originally a quarry for rocks that built our city’s streets, but was closed in the 1920s and has been used in many television and film shoots – most famously in the 1960s Batman television series.
Kids normally love to scamper through this old quarry area, but the cave itself was full of water this week. One of the most complete views we had of the Hollywood Sign came from this lower elevation.
You won’t always see the hills this green, so take a walk soon and enjoy the full streams, emerald hillsides, and wondrous views of our City of Stars.