Hikes: Mt. Hollywood Knolls

Coyotes on Mt. Hollywood Dr.

This is another nifty little hike where not much effort is required to get maximum reward. The "trailhead" begins in Griffith Park on Mt. Hollywood Dr. where Vermont Canyon and Western Canyon Rds. meet - just below Griffith Observatory. If you're coming up Western, turn left just before the tunnel, if coming up Vermont, turn right just after the tunnel. I like taking this walk mid-week about an hour before sunset and almost always find parking available near the trailhead. If no parking is available, turn up E. Observatory road and you should find parking fairly easily. If you're here on a weekend - all bets are off.

Sunset - Griffith Park

For the most part, this is a pretty quiet route - there seem to be more bicyclists on this road than there are hikers. The hike starts at an elevation of 1,035 ft with a steady, gradual climb. There's a dirt path by the side of the road that you can walk along if you don't like walking on asphalt. The road is closed to vehicular traffic, so if you don’t mind asphalt, you have a nice, wide berth almost to yourself.

Griffith Observatory and Downtown L.A.

About a third of a mile up, you will find an overlook on your left that looks back onto the observatory - pretty good photo op here. At 4/10 of a mile there's a spur trail off to the left which leads you out to a couple of unnamed knolls. Take the trail to the left and and in about 400 ft or 1/10 mi, you will come to a small set of stairs on your left that lead up to the south knoll. From this point, at an elevation of 1,215 ft, you have a very impressive 360° view. To the south you have Griffith Observatory and downtown Los Angeles as the backdrop. To the southwest lies Hollywood, and continuing your gaze clockwise, into the west you’re looking towards Runyon Canyon, the Hollywood Hills and the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains which continue out to the Pacific Ocean. Looking to the north is Mount Lee with the radio towers (The Hollywood Sign which hangs on the southern face of this mountain is obscured by the knoll rising directly to the north) and continuing clockwise to the northeast rises the 1,614 ft summit of Mount Chapel. Clockwise to the east, the directly in front of you is the 1,625 ft summit of Mt. Hollywood. Only half a mile and 15 minutes into the hike, you have this amazingly spectacular view.

The Hollywood Sign

To reach the northern knoll, retrace your steps down to the spur trail, turn right, and in a couple of hundred feet, take the small trail on your left which leads up a ridge to the top. The last bit of the trail will require some scrambling to get to the top, but nothing too dramatic - my dog can do it. From this vantage point at 1245 ft, the view north is even more dramatic. The Hollywood Sign is in full view and the 1582-foot summit of Mt. Bell can now be seen just to the east of Mt. Chapel. Stop, take a rest and soak in the view here at the top - it’s one of the best views that I’ve found in all of Griffith Park. If you’re interested in hiking further, you can continue up Mt. Hollywood Dr., following the orange route indicated on the map to the Haunted Picnic Table. Otherwise, retrace your steps and you’ll be back to your starting point at just about the one hour mark.

Distance: 1.1 mi
Duration: 1 hr
Elevation Range: 1,035 ft - 1,245 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 210 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 300 ft
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.123855, -118.302410
Description: An easy hike on a fire road with great views and minimal elevation gain.