Hikes: The Greek (Riverside) Trail

Downtown L.A. from Riverside Trail

This is a great little hike - short, scenic and with minimal elevation gain, it's perfect for those times when you have only an hour or so and you just need to take in a little fresh air. Ok, technically this is called The Riverside Trail - why, I don't know, there's no river by the side of this trail, nor does it lead to the river. The trailhead starts on N. Vermont Canyon Rd. just across from the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park. Beginning at an elevation of about 860 ft, a quick ascent (about 1/10 of a mile) takes you 80 ft higher, then the trail flattens out and continues relatively flat at an elevation of about 940 ft for the next mile. The views south over the L.A. Basin open up and remain for the duration of the hike.

Griffith Observatory from Riverside Trail

Roughly 10 minutes or 4/10 of a mile into the hike there's a little spur trail that heads south out onto a knoll that's worth checking out. Facing south, you have a great view of Los Feliz and downtown L.A. Turn around to the north, and you get a great view of the canyon that the main trail traverses.

At approximately the half-mile mark, where the trail cuts deep into the canyon, there's another path up to the left that leads into the furthest reaches of the canyon. This is a great spot for your dog to be off-leash because there's no one in here for your dog to bother or vice versa. Unless it's getting dark - then you need to watch out for coyotes. Seriously!

At roughly 8/10 of mile, the trail comes to an overlook with a great view of Griffith Observatory to the west and downtown Los Angeles to the south. If you're here at night, the stream of lights running north/south is the steady traffic heading in and out of Koreatown along the Vermont Ave. corridor.

Griffith Observatory from Riverside Trail

At 9/10 of a mile there's a spur trail that branches off to the south-west and heads down a steep descent to Commonwealth Ave. which will re-connect with Vermont Ave and lead you back to the starting point. Alternatively, you can continue down the main trail for an additional 2/10 of a mile to reach Commonwealth Ave. You can take either of these routes back to the starting point at the Greek, but I usually retrace my steps and continue soaking in the views. However, if it's getting dark and you're walking with a dog, it may be best to take the road at this point - there are plenty of coyotes that come out on the trail at night, and a pack of them can make mincemeat out of your dog - no joke! Coyotes aside, this is one of my absolute favorite trails.

Distance: 1.8 mi
Duration: 1 hr
Elevation Range: 860 ft - 940 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 80 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 169 ft
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.121882, -118.296658
Description: An easy hike on a fire trail with great views and minimal elevation gain.