Griffith Park’s best-known hike leads to the top of Mt. Hollywood, the park’s 4th highest peak at an elevation of 1,625 ft. Mt. Hollywood can be hiked by way of several different trails but the route from Griffith Observatory is by far the most popular - and easiest. There are at least a half-dozen scenic rest stops along the way which make the hike even easier. Hiking this route at a leisurely pace will take about 3 hours - but skipping the rest stops and hiking at a brisk pace, it can be done in 2 hours.
The trail begins at the north-end of the observatory parking lot (the end farthest from the observatory) at the signed and landscaped Charlie Turner Trailhead. You'll immediately enter the the shady Berlin Forest. Los Angeles and Berlin, Germany have been sister cities since 1967. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of that arrangement, the cities exchanged some local flora in 1990. Here in L.A., we got Griffith Park’s Berlin Forest – a small grove of pine trees above Griffith Observatory. Among the trees planted by L.A.’s German sister city officials, is a whimsical sign pointing northeast to Berlin, 6,000 miles away. This small but pleasant grove of pine trees is a great place to sit in the shade and soak in views of the sunset or the city below. There are several park benches available. 1st rest stop - not even ¼ mile from the start.
Just pass the "forest" you begin a short descent to a pedestrian bridge. The bridge crosses over the tunnel for vehicular traffic on Vermont Canyon Road. The wall of the bridge makes another good rest spot with good views of downtown L.A. to the southeast. The trail now heads northwest as the first leg of a long switchback. Take a look to your left for some good views of the observatory with the L.A. skyline as its backdrop. In roughly 15 more minutes or ⅔ mi from the start, you’ll reach an elbow at a ridge where the trail cuts back east. There are a couple of rocks here that allow one to perch and enjoy the view west toward The Knolls, Mt. Lee and the Hollywood Sign (3rd rest stop). Continue walking up the road. In another 10 - 15 mins at about the 1-mile marker, you'll reach a 6-way junction at an often breezy ridge offering a 270-degree view from northeast to south to northwest. There's a little rock jumble to the south that makes another good spot for catching the breeze and taking another a quick perch (4th rest stop) before continuing to the summit.
The trail cutting sharply left, to the northwest, takes you past the Captain's Roost, a rest stop on the west hip of Mt. Hollywood with a large bench and views over Hollywood and Mt Lee - yet another (the 5th) rest spot. As the trail continues, it bends around to the north side of Mt. Hollywood and you’ll soon pass a side road on the left heading to a water tank. Continue past the water tank for a couple of minutes more and you’ll reach a "T" junction. Turn right (southwest) and walk five minutes more to the summit, 1.5 mi from the start of the trail.
The summit offers a 360-degree view of the greater Los Angeles area - and on a clear day, the views can be quite stunning. There are picnic tables and a fence along the steeper slope overlooking the city. This popular destination is a great spot at sunset, as the city of L.A. begins to light up for the night.
After you've finished soaking in the views, take the trail down towards a second set of picnic tables on the east shoulder of Mt. Hollywood. Stay to the left of the picnic tables and continue down the trail to a 'T'. Take the trail to the right which leads directly to Dante's View, where a water fountain and picnic tables provide a secluded rest stop for hikers.
Dante’s View is a shady garden started in 1964 as a volunteer labor of love by Dante Orgolini. Dante, an Italian immigrant, artist and writer, began planting a two-acre retreat of pine, palm and pepper trees high on the south-facing slope of Mt. Hollywood. After Dante’s death in 1978, British immigrant and retired insurance agent Charlie Turner took over as caretaker of the gardens. Turner hiked to the garden virtually every morning to tend the plants for 15 years, until he was nearly 90. The trailhead for Mt. Hollywood is named for Turner. Dedicated volunteers still maintain the garden - a small oasis worthy of a visit. As a side note, another famous gardener is memorialized along the trail - the George Harrison Tree can be found smack-dab at the trailhead entrance.
After exploring Dante's View, continue back down the trail towards the observatory. When you reach the 6-way trail junction, you can either continue back down the way you came, or take the trail at 10 o'clock (the one that leads south-west, not south) for a more interesting single-track trail which leads back to the bridge over Vermont Canyon Rd. This route will also shave a ½ mile off of the total distance of the hike. Cross the bridge and head back through the Berlin Forest to return to the trailhead.
|Distance:||3.0 / 2.5 mi|
|Duration:||3 hrs (leisurely)|
|Elevation Range:||1,131 - 1,625 ft|
|Net Elevation Gain:||494 ft|
|Total Elevation Gain:||515 ft|
|Trailhead Coordinates:||34.120955, -118.300380|
|Description:||Griffith Park’s best-known hike leads to the top of Mt. Hollywood, the park’s 4th highest peak|