Griffith Observatory / Mount Hollywood

My second time in Griffith Park.  These hikes are fun because there is so much to see, both natural and man-made.  The drawback, for me, is crowds of noisy people and little sense of privacy or solitude.  Good for a change of pace but I prefer natural silence on the trail (birds, streams, etc.)  Griffith Park is like a big maze, with numerous trails springing from numerous trail junctions.  Strangely, no one on the trail seems to know much about the area, certainly not any trail names, and there are few trail signs.  Amazon sells a helpful and accurate map by Frank Neilsen that made navigation easy.

1     3     2   I parked on Fern Dell Drive, right off of Los Feliz Blvd.  My intention was to start the hike by going through the lush garden area known as Ferndell.  It was dark and I started up a paved path on the right, following several walkers.  My mistake.  To get to the entrance of Ferndell I needed to cross over Fern Dell Drive to the signed trailhead.  I missed it completely.  Instead I walked up the path, passed a couple of dry, unimpressive garden areas to a fire road that led up to the observatory.  I thought, “That was Ferndell? What a disappointment.”  I did find Ferndell on the way back, fortunately.  Photo 2 – I enjoyed several weird examples of graffiti and stickers on this day.  I usually hate the stuff, but some are creative and interesting to look at and seem to fit in in a place like Griffith Park.  Photo 3 – I started on East Observatory Trail.  I felt lucky to get there early enough to see the domed building still it up from the night before.

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There is a good climb up to the observatory.  The morning clouds were really beautiful.

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11     I arrive at the iconic Los Angeles landmark, Griffith Observatory.

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Near the observatory is this sculpture which pays tribute to famous astronomers.

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Also at the observatory, a bust of James Dean.  Scenes from Rebel Without a Cause were shot here.

14     15     16   As I made my way to the top of East Observatory Trail I noticed people standing on a second story catwalk which wraps around the building.  Of course I had to explore.  Photo 3 – Below I could see the trail I came up on.  It’s the one on the left side.  And I could also see the trail I took on the way back, to the right.  That’s West Observatory Trail.

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Downtown LA from Griffith Observatory

18   The Observatory’s telescope

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On zoom – I spot the Capital Records building below.

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Photo 1 – Across from the Observatory is Mount Lee, home to the HOLLYWOOD sign.  The high point just to the left of the sign is Cahuenga Peak.  The last peak to the left in this photo is Burbank Peak, all completed on my Mount Lee hike.  Photo 2 – I crossed through the Observatory parking lot with Mount Hollywood, the tallest peak in the immediate area, standing before me.

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The trail up to Mount Hollywood is called Charlie Turner Trail.  First I walked through two columns of small redwoods.  This short walk is called Berlin Forrest.  I made my way up the hill, slowly, on a windy fire road.  There is a shortcut that runs up to the right of the road just as you cross this bridge.  I took it on the way back and it saved a ton of time.  For now, I stayed on the fire road.

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Griffith Observatory with Downtown LA in the background

28   The top of Mount Hollywood, with it’s fenced in area, became more clear as I climbed.

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I made a detour here at Captain’s Roost, a little garden area that was devastated in the 2007 fire.

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As I continued through the garden I noticed several healthy looking plants.  I don’t know if they survived the fire and have come back to life or if they had been planted after the fire.

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39       40   I returned to the main trail which circled up to the bald summit of Mount Hollywood.

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From the top of Mount Hollywood, I looked down at Hogback Trail, which I would take next.  There is a really scary looking trail running down from the peak on Hogback Trail which had me worried, but this is not the main trail and I wouldn’t take it today.  Photo 2 – Downtown from Mount Hollywood  Photo 3 – The HOLLYWOOD sign from Mount Hollywood.  The peak on the right is Mount Bell.

45   I hiked down Hogback Trail.  Very close to the beginning is Dante’s View, another little garden.  It’s terraced with many hidden areas and benches like nearby Amir’s Garden, but not as lush.

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51   Vegetation at Dante’s View

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52     53     54   Back on Hogback Trail I made a quick stop at a prominent looking peak and the drop off to the scary looking trail which runs straight down the side.  Photo 3 – Looking back at Mount Hollywood

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Photo 1 – Nice view of the Verdugo Mountains with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.  Photo 2 – This antenna marks Verdugo Peak.  Photo 3 – Still on the Verdugo Mountains, the big “H” on the hill is for Hoover High School.  Photo 4 – Mount Wilson, with its many antennae, stands tall in the background of this picture.

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Below Hogback Trail is this big rock.  People were standing on top of a fenced-in area on top.  Is this Bee Rock?  I’ll find out next time I hike here.

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64   I looked ahead trying to make out Glendale Peak, my next destination.  Just beyond the bridge is the turn-off for the very short trail that leads out to the peak.  Were it not for this sign in photo 3 I certainly would have walked right by.  It just looked like another spur trail heading up on to a bump by the side of the trail.  I pass these all the time.  There wasn’t much on top of Glendale Peak, a very small area and a marker placed in a concrete block.  I sat on the block and ate lunch.  No one was around and no one came out to the peak while I was there.  This was the most solitude I had during the day.

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Photo 1 – From Glendale Peak – Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre directly below it.  Photo 2 – The peak on Hogback Trail on the right, Mount Hollywood on the left.

67     68     69   After lunch I continued on Hogback Trail.  There is a golf course below.  The next trail I would take, Riverside Trail, runs right next to it.  Photo 2 – The sharp right turn at the junction between Hogback Trail and Riverside Trail.  I went to the right on Riverside Trail which is wonderfully smooth and flat.  It gave my feet a break.

70   Eye level with the skyscrapers of Downtown LA

72   The Greek

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Riverside Trail took me down to Vermont Canyon Road.  I walked up the road about a hundred yards to the Griffith Park Bird Sanctuary.  There are restrooms here.  The Bird Sanctuary looks a little out of sorts.  There is no water running in it’s concrete streams.  I quickly finished the short loop around the property and then made the final climb which would take me back up above the Observatory.

77   The Bird Sanctuary from above

71     78     79   This trail was the sketchiest of the day but not terrible.

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86   When I was right above the Observatory I noticed a trail heading downhill.  I took the shortcut and wound up at that little “bridge” near the beginning.  Taking the shortcut shaved of a lot of time.  In photo 1 you can see the shortcut with the regular trail running beneath it.  I passed the Observatory again.  Photo 4 – Chalk drawing of a cat and the mouse it killed.  Photo 5 – I returned down a different trail this time, the slightly longer West Observatory Trail.  With so many options, I barely had to re-hike any of the ground I covered today.

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The Observatory’s telescope, now open to the sky.

88   Peaceful scene

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91   Somehow on the way back I stumbled upon the trail that leads into Ferndell.  I’m still not sure how.  Cross under the road through the tunnel and a new, green world awaits.

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Ferndell is beautiful and lush, with a calming stream and little waterfalls.

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I popped out of Ferndell to find I was only feet from my car.

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Thank you, Griffith Park.

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