The Lazy Hiker


Griffith Observatory


One of the shortest and easiest trail routes to reach Griffith Observatory is the E. Observatory Trail that begins just south of the Greek Theatre off of Vermont Canyon Rd. in Griffith Park.

View from E. Observatory Trail

The start of the trailhead begins at an elevation of 760 ft with a short series of switchbacks that quickly rise about 150 ft before the trail starts to level off. After 1/3 of a mile, the trail intersects with a paved road. Turn right and head up the paved road for about 50 yards, then turn left to continue on the dirt trail. From here, the trail heads west for another 1/4 of a mile (providing excellent views to the south over the the L.A. basin) to a trail junction just south of the Observatory. At the junction, there is an overlook with lovely views where four paths meet at an elevation of 1,015 ft. Take the rightmost trail which leads up to the east side of the Observatory - from here it's just under a 1/4 mile up a gradual slope to reach the Observatory at an elevation of 1,135 ft. Just 3/4 of a mile from the start, you will have reached your destination.

Griffith Observatory from the trail Griffith Observatory, which opened in 1935, is a spectacular building. Construction began in 1933 as a WPA project, using a design developed by architect John C. Austin who designed several other landmark buildings in Southern California, including Los Angeles City Hall, the Hollywood Masonic Temple and the Shrine Auditorium. The Observatory is open to the public and admission is free. It contains an extensive array of space and science related displays and is very much worth checking out. Even if you decide not to enter the building, the grounds alone are worth exploring. From the east side of the Observatory, head up the ramp which leads to the back of the Oschin Planetarium and takes you to the Promenade Walkway. From here, expansive views over the L.A. Basin are in plain view. Downtown Los Angeles lies to the southeast, Hollywood to the southwest and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Continue around to the west, for a look over Western Canyon and the Hollywood Hills.

Astronomers Monument & Griffith Observatory

Exiting the promenade, and continuing along the west side of the Observatory, you'll see the Hollywood Sign on the south shoulder of Mt. Lee. As you head towards it, you'll encounter the Rebel Without a Cause monument capped with a bust of James Dean. The movie was filmed here in 1955 bringing international attention to the Observatory by capturing both the interior and exterior in several key scenes and marked the first time a planetarium theater was used in a film. Across the lawn to your right is the Astronomer's Monument that pays homage to Galileo, Newton and Kepler and among others - as well as a 34-inch bronze sundial. One of the sculptors of the astronomers, George Stanley, was also the creator of the famous "Oscar" statuette. Mt. Hollywood lies to the north, 1.5 miles away, and can be accessed from the Charlie Turner trailhead at the north end of the parking lot. If you opt out of hiking Mt. Hollywood, retrace your steps for a pleasant and scenic return to the start.

Details
Distance: 1.5 mi
Duration: 2 hrs (leisurely)
Elevation Range: 760 ft - 1,135 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 375 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 375 ft
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.118365, -118.295036
Description: This short hike takes about 45 minutes to reach the iconic observatory.