Hikes: The Old L.A. Zoo

Enclosure Ruins

This is an interesting hike that starts at the Old L.A. Zoo, is relatively flat and can be completed in about an hour. The zoo, formerly known as The Griffith Park Zoo, opened in 1912 with a grand total of 15 animals. It was built on the site of a defunct ostrich farm owned by Griffith J. Griffith - father of Griffith Park, The Greek Theatre and Griffith Observatory. It was expanded in the 1930s by work crews from Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. Most of the enclosures were built in the caves-with-iron-bars style which was then standard for zoos. With the opening of the new Los Angeles Zoo, in 1966, the animals were transferred to the new location 2 miles away and the old zoo was closed. The old animal enclosures, with the bars removed, were left as ruins. Today, the site is now a picnic area and contains a walking trail.

The Verdgo Mountains from the overlook

To begin this hike, enter the old zoo and follow the path to the left along the south side of the zoo where all of the old cages are. The grounds offer an enticing view of Bee Rock, a hive-shaped point atop a ridge to the west. Past the row of cages is an entrance to a fire road on the left. Continue along the fairly level fire trail for about 1/2 mile until the trail merges with Mineral Wells Trail at an elevation of about 550 ft. Turn right and climb up the hill for about 50 yds then turn immediately right again to take the E. trail. The trail climbs about 150 ft in about 200 yds, to a maximum elevation of about 700 ft, but then flattens and slowly descends for the remainder of the walk. There are nice some views of Downtown Glendale, Burbank and the Verdugo Mountains that can be seen along this stretch of trail. Continue for about a mile until you reach a spur trail that heads down Spring Canyon (you'll see a series of man-made dams) to the top end of the picnic grounds at the old zoo. From here you can retrace your steps to the starting point.

Details - The Old L.A. Zoo
Distance: 1.5 mi
Duration: 1 hr
Elevation Range: 533 - 705 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 172 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 330 ft
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.134081, -118.287872
Description: An interesting hike that starts at the Old L.A. Zoo, has relatively mild elevation gain, offers some decent views of Glendale, Burbank and the Verdugos, and can be completed in about an hour.