A full and fun day of hiking in Hollywood. I planned to see a lot and was able to squeeze in everything – a 13.7 mile adventure. In addition to Mount Lee I also made stops at Mount Bell, Amir’s Garden, Cahuenga Peak, Burbank Peak and Bronson Caves.
Although this is not that close to my home, getting there was very easy – just one freeway and only a couple of turns after that. I parked at the trailhead parking lot for Brush Canyon Trail. There is plenty of free parking.
I soon made my way up to Mount Hollywood Drive. This is a paved road but it seems to be closed to regular vehicle traffic. I did see some park maintenance trucks and a police cruiser driving on it however. My next stop was Mount Bell. My book said to go right at the junction and pick up the trail on the left. This is incorrect and cost me about 20 minutes as I wandered around looking for this phantom trail. None of the trails are marked and no one I asked knew where Mount Bell is. Photo 2 – This dirt trail is the one to Mount Bell. To get there I went left at the junction, walked down about 30 yards and then wen right up the trail, the opposite of what my book said to do. This was the one glitch in my trip, a little frustrating but no big deal. After I climbed the hill I soon came to a Y fork. The two roads shown here encircle the top of Mount Bell. There are several little trails heading to the top. Some parts are steep and overgrown but it’s a short climb.
From the top I could look down on the trails below. The dirt trail to the left was the one I had just gotten off of to get to to this spot. The paved road on the right is Mount Hollywood Drive. Both lead to the peak in the distance, Mount Hollywood. Photos 2 and 3 – Mount Hollywood on zoom and extreme zoom
In the opposite direction is Mount Lee and Cahuenga Peak. If you look closely you can see the paved Mount Lee Drive winding up the back of the mountain.
I arrive at Amir’s Garden.
I was lead into a quiet, shady oasis with benches and picnic tables. There is also a water fountain. The garden is well irrigated and lush. Every few yards there are openings that lead down to terraced paths clinging to the hillside. Photo 2 – I found this sign amusing. It’s to thank those who helped get a flagpole installed in the garden, but one person’s name has been crossed off the list. Random vandalism or is there more to the story?
Across the way is the Verdugo Mountains, where I hiked last week. I now know that the bowl shaped area I could see from the top of the Verdugos is made up of a lot of the land that I hiked today.
Views along the way of Griffith Park Observatory and Downtown LA. The dirt road becomes paved, with one road going to the left and one uphill to the right. I took the one to the left first which took me beneath the HOLLYWOOD Sign.
The paved road dead ends with a nice view of the sign, but it’s better when you climb up the hill to the flat area above the road. As I and a dozen or so others stood around taking photos we heard a policeman yelling at someone in a “restricted area”. I thought it was from above, like someone at the top had hopped the fence and was trying to head down to the sign, which is illegal. I then realized the yelling policeman was in a helicopter and he was yelling at me and the rest to get back down to the road.
I backtracked and headed up the windy Mount Lee Drive. The freshly laid black asphalt made for a hot trip. Photo 2 shows Forrest Lawn Cemetery.
Behind the HOLLYWOOD Sign
The Hollywood Reservoir from Mount Lee
Griffith Observatory from Mount Lee
In one direction is the antenna on Mount Lee, in the other direction is Cahuenga Peak
Photo 1 – Slightly different angle of the reservoir. Photo 2 – A ways up the trail is Burbank Peak, marked by that lone tree. There is a hairy looking trail running from Wonder View Drive to this peak, as can be seen here.
Something amazing happened next as a hawk hovered right above my head. He could not have been more than 20 feet above me, and he just hovered there for what seemed like a minute or so. There didn’t seem to be any wind and he wasn’t flapping his wings, he just floated there somehow defying gravity.
Photo 1 – The tree on Burbank Peak. I read that people call this the “Tree of Wisdom”. Photo 2 – The landmark Capital Records building on zoom
Fast forward a few miles, back at the parking area. I have one more thing to see, the Bronson Caves, better known as the Bat Cave from the 1960’s television show Batman. I took the unmarked trail running away from Brush Canyon Trail. The caves are about a quarter of a mile away.
On the backside there are three openings. I went to the left and had to crouch down to get out.