From the parking lot, walk towards the observatory. Take the unpaved trail to the left (east) of the magnificent structure to an overlook and trail split at a quarter mile. The left fork descends to the Greek Theater at Vermont Canyon Road. For this hike, bear right another quarter mile to a second junction. Begin the loop to the right on the West Observatory Trail, a dirt road. Continue down the hillside, leaving the chaparral-clad hillside into forested Western Canyon at Ferndell Park (also known as Fern Dell). At the canyon floor is an old adobe restroom and a junction with the East Observatory Trail, the return route.
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For now, detour down canyon to the south through Ferndell Park under towering sycamore and oak trees. Pass through the picnic grounds to the brook. Stroll along the quarter-mile path, meandering along the park’s stream, crossing over bridges, passing waterfalls and pools, and meandering through the lush gardens and glen.
Return to the trail junction by the adobe restroom, and now take the East Observatory Trail. Climb up the side canyon under the three domes of the observatory, completing the loop. Bear right and return a half mile to the trailhead at the observatory.
Maps: U.S.G.S. Hollywood and Burbank Map and Guide of Griffith Park Hileman’s Recreational & Geological Map of Griffith Park
Mount Hollywood, the highest peak in Griffith Park, is perched at 1,625 feet in elevation. From the bald, flat summit is an overlook with commanding vistas of the Los Angeles basin, the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains, the majestic Griffith Park Observatory, and a view of the landmark “HOLLYWOOD” sign.
East of Mount Hollywood is Dante’s View, a terraced, two-acre garden oasis planted in 1964 by Dante Orgolini, a Brazilian-born Italian immigrant. Dante maintained and cared for the garden until he died in 1978. Charlie Turner became caretaker of the famed arboretum for 15 years until he passed away in 1997. The picturesque garden has been maintained since by volunteers. The south-facing Dante’s View overlooks the observatory with picnic benches and shade trees along its intertwining trail.
The Charlie Turner Trail, likely the most popular trail in the park, connects the Griffith Park Observatory with the lookout atop Mount Hollywood and Dante’s View. This hike begins just north of the historic observatory, built in 1935. The triple-domed landmark has excellent science exhibits, a planetarium, gift shop, and an observation deck with telescopes. Throughout the hike are panoramic vistas. Mount Hollywood can also be accessed from the north via several other routes.
To the trailhead
OPTION 1: From Los Feliz Boulevard in Hollywood, take Fern Dell Drive
north 2.3 miles to the Griffith Park Observatory parking lot. (Fern Dell Drive becomes Western Canyon Road after the hairpin turn.)
OPTION 2: From Los Feliz Boulevard in Hollywood, take Vermont Avenue north 1.8 miles to the observatory parking lot. (En route, Vermont Avenue curves into Vermont Canyon Road.) Both directions offer a beautiful, curving drive through Griffith Park.
At 0.8 miles is a 4-way junction on the ridge below Mount Hollywood. Begin a clockwise loop on the left fork. Pass Captain’s Roost on the left by a row of towering palm trees. The landscaped plateau offers additional vistas across Los Angeles. Continue uphill to the north (back) side of Mount Hollywood to another 4-way junction. The two trails on the right form a short 0.2-mile loop to the 1,625-foot summit. From the flat, rounded peak are 360- degree vistas, including a picture-perfect view of the observatory.
After marveling at the views, return to the 4-way junction. Curve right (east), skirting the elevated picnic area on the knoll. Descend 100 yards to a junction at Dante’s View. The Hogback (East Ridge) Trail continues straight ahead to Glendale Peak (Hike 32). The landscaped two-acre garden takes in the southeast corner, with access from both trails. After exploring the terraced slope, continue southwest on the loop around Mount Hollywood, completing the loop on the ridge below the summit. Return down the hill, retracing your route.
Hiking distance: 0.6 miles round trip Hiking time: 0.5 hours Configuration: out-and-back Elevation gain: 40 feet Exposure: exposed Difficulty: very easy Dogs: allowed
Maps: U.S.G.S. Hollywood Map and Guide of Griffith Park Hileman’s Recreational & Geological Map of Griffith Park
At the southwest corner of Griffith Park is a short, historical hike to one of Hollywood’s most frequently filmed caves the Bronson Caves. First used as a quarry in 1907, the crushed rock from the area was used to pave the streets of a growing Hollywood. The quarry ceased operation in the late 1920s, leaving the manmade caves. The two caves were originally created as access tunnels through the huge rock, which sat within the abandoned quarry. The tunnels were used to reach the granite cliffs as a source for crushed rock. Many western and science fiction movies have shot on location at these caves, including Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and the Batman series.
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