griffith observatory los angeles skyline hike

Hiking to Griffith Observatory and Mount Hollywood

By Heather

Our most recent hike happened last weekend, and it was glorious. Perfect weather, light crowds and a gentle breeze. It doesn’t get better than that.

But I think the one reason I love this hike is that it showed me you really don’t have to deal with the cluster that is the Griffith Observatory parking lot if you are in ambulatory shape.

We’ve been to Griffith a million times, because when people visit, it’s one of the things they want to see. While I’m happy to accommodate, I’m also sick to death of it. Taking this hike gave me a fresh perspective and I was actually happy to reach it instead of feeling angry and frazzled!

But first: An apology. That photo right up there? Yeah. Somehow all the other photos I took with my phone were lost and this is all that remains. It was taken while on the Mount Hollywood portion of the hike, and the view only gets better from there. For everything else, you’ll just have to use your imagination. That’s not so terrible!

Observatory Hike

We did two hikes in one, starting with the Observatory Trail. To get there, take Los Feliz Boulevard, turn on Fern Dell at the Griffith Park entrance and drive up until you see the Trails Cafe. Park around there. The trails begin on the right-hand side of the road as you face the observatory.

The Observatory Trail hike itself took about 20 to 30 minutes. If you’ve been there, factor in the amount of time you have hunted for a parking space by first driving around the parking lot, finding nothing, getting in line to go back down the hill to find a roadside spot and then walk up to the observatory.

The trail is wide and the incline is completely manageable. Next time your visitors want to go to Griffith, make them take this trail. People of all ages were using it, and it’s a beautiful way to get to the observatory.

Mt. Hollywood Hike

Once you get to Griffith, you can pick up the trail for Mt. Hollywood by crossing to the back of the parking lot and starting up the hill. You have two options for routes: The longer, windier way or the straight up, scramble to the top of the hill way.

We’re all old, see, so we opted for the easier route. It was still plenty challenging on its own.

Both hikes total up to about 5.5 miles of good walking. We racked up about 13,500 steps on our FitBits and climbed the equivalent of 130 flights. Not too shabby!

For specific route info, I defer to Dan Simpson, because I’m awful at directions even when there are street signs. Don’t get me started on a trail. You’ll never be seen alive again. Here’s the Observatory hike, and here’s Mount Hollywood.

Neither trail has much shade, so bring a hat and plenty of water.

Parking

As always, parking. I’m quickly learning that to hike in LA, you’ve got to beat the rush and the heat. The later you sleep in, the worse both become, and people have died from hiking in the heat. Probably no one has died from parking woes, but it sometimes feels like you could.

If you get here before 9:30 or 10 a.m., you should be fine and there will be plenty of parking by the Trails Cafe. After that, you might have to do a little hunting.

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