The Lazy Hiker


Griffith Helipad / Glendale Peak


This moderate hike can be completed in less than 2 hours and provides outstanding views with numerous rest stops along the way. To reach the start of the hike, begin at the furthest point north on Commonwealth Ave. (1 block east of Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz) at the access gate. Head to the left, walking past the gate (elev. 720 ft), to continue onto Commonwealth Canyon Dr. Continuing up the hill, Roosevelt Municipal Golf Course (a picturesque 9-hole course) will be on your left.

Downtown L.A. from Vista Del Valle Dr.

After a short but steady climb of about 1/4 mi, follow the paved road on the right, Vista Del Valle Dr. About 150 yds / 450 ft up this road, the road flattens out and views of the L.A. Basin begin to open up. Follow this road for the next 1/2 mile. At this point, there is a little spur trail that heads south, leading you to a little grove of Cedar trees. There are a couple of picnic tables here in this nice, cool, shaded spot and a bench that looks out over Los Feliz - a great place for a short stop if you're so inclined. Re-tracing your steps back to the main drive, continue uphill where views to the east begin to unfold, including Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, and in the distance the San Gabriel mountains. These distant peaks rise to over 10,000 ft and in the winter, will often be snow-capped. On the left, just past the water tower, there's a trail that leads up to a bench with a great view of Griffith Observatory. At the 9/10 mile-marker, there is another rest spot that has potable water for dogs / horses / humans along with a couple of picnic tables. From here, the road reverses itself and begins to head west.

Downtown L.A. from Riverside Trail

Griffith Helipad (elev. 1,078 ft) is just 1/4 mile further down the road. Spectacular views of the L.A. basin await you. Looking southeast, just past the water tower you passed on the way up, the L.A. River snakes alongside of I-5. Continuing clockwise, is Silver Lake Reservoir followed by downtown L.A. just beyond. The hilly section just to the north of downtown is the Franklin Hills. The two mid-rise towers at the foot of you are the Los Feliz Towers (luxury condos), and just below them lies Los Feliz Village. The sprawl of mid-rise towers to the west of downtown is Koreatown and the Mid-Wilshire district. To the west is Griffith Observatory with Hollywood below it. In the distance is Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

If you want to climb an actual peak, Glendale Peak lies a short distance away. Glendale Peak is one of those little gems - an easily reachable peak with stellar views that is often overlooked by most hikers. From the helipad, continue north on the paved road for about 100 yds. To the left is a dirt trail that immediately forks - stay to the right. The fire road soon turns northward and in about 1/4 mi you’ll see a very small pedestrian bridge across a small ravine – and a small blue sign on the right side of the trail. This trail commemorates Henry Shamma, a writer and Sierra Club hike leader who spent many years leading hikes to Glendale Peak and maintaining trails in Griffith Park.

Downtown Glendale from Glendale Peak

Turn right at this sign to ascend this short trail to Glendale Peak. This trail is a bit more rugged than either of the previous trails, with some steep drop-offs on either side. You'll find yourself doing a quick scramble up a short staircase built into the mountainside. Just above this staircase is a beautiful stretch of trail that leads directly to Glendale Peak itself. The views from the top (elev. 1,201 ft) are hands down some of the best in Griffith Park. You’ll get nearly 360-degree views and on clear days you’ll be able to see from the San Gabriels to the Pacific Ocean – and because the peak is a little off the beaten path, there’s a good chance you’ll have these views all to yourself.

Retrace your steps back towards the helipad, but before you reach the paved road, turn right and take the dirt trail (Riverside Trail) back to Commonwealth Canyon Dr. Head back down Commonwealth Canyon Dr. to reach your starting point.

Details - Griffith Helipad
Distance: 2.1 mi
Duration: 1.5 hrs
Elevation Range: 720 ft - 1,078 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 358 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 400 ft
Description: A moderate hike on a mix of fire road and dirt trail with great views.
Details - Griffith Helipad + Glendale Peak
Distance: 3.1 mi
Duration: 2 hrs
Elevation Range: 720 ft - 1,201 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 481 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 523 ft
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.119192, -118.286402
Description: A moderate hike on a mix fire road and dirt trail with great views. The trail to Glendale Peak is a bit more rugged with steep drop-offs on either side of the trail.