Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mt. Lee and More in Griffith Park Hike - March, 9, 2011

Mt. LeeGriffith IconGorgeous weather and an afternoon off from work spelled the perfect recipe for my first hike in Griffith Park for the year. In all my hikes in the park, I've not repeated any. I've been to the same destinations and on the same trails, but each time I put together a different route. A trip I've not done yet is to hike from the observatory to the Hollywood sign. So that's my plan, and while I'm at it, I'll bag Mt. Hollywood, Mt. Chapel, and Cahuenga Peak.

2:25 - Start hike from Charlie Turner Trailhead at the Griffith Observatory parking lot. Decide to take the shortcut heading up the ridge to Mt. Hollywood. The sun is quite warm with temps in the 80s. Great visibility. Hillsides are green.

Mt. Hollywood2:47 - Mt. Hollywood (1625'). Six others there. I linger only a few minutes. As I leave north, a couple hikers coming up a spur path encounter a large rattlesnake. I go closer to get a look but only experience its loud rattling. Continue north toward "Baby Bell" and Mt. Bell. I decide to not summit them just to ensure I have enough time to hit my primary destinations. Pass the Bells and bend west toward Mt. Chapel, taking the route via water tank 153. Walking at a good pace but not shy about stopping to photograph plants.

Mt. Chapel3:27 - Mt. Chapel (1614'). Clear day, rewarding views! Briefly snack and leave the summit on the narrow trail heading southwest. A little steep in places but not bad. Enjoy the roller coaster trail along the ridgeline heading east.

3:58 - Mt. Lee Drive. Now on paved road traversing the north flank of Mt. Lee. Great visibility toward the valley.

Mt. Lee4:12 - Mt. Lee (1680'). Always fun to look down on the Hollywood sign. Scramble to the very summit to get a few more shots. Cahuenga Peak to the west calls to me, although I'm looking carefully at the time. It's been five years—almost to the day—since I've climbed Cahuenga. I can't see any sign of a trail and I'm hoping that it's not over grown.

After just five minutes on Mt. Lee, I return west and take the spur trail that heads west at the hairpin turn on Mt. Lee Drive. To my relief, the narrow trial is in good condition and I move along nicely. The trail follows the ridge, over a pointed knob, drops to a saddle, begins to climb the steep east face of Cahuenga Peak, and transitions to the north face where the vegetation is green and lush.

4:31 - Cahuenga Peak (1820'). Enjoy the views in all directions. There is no higher summit in the Hollywood Hills. I wander down the path west a little for some more vantage points. As I look north at studio row in Burbank (Disney, NBC, Warner Bros.), I think about the Leno show, which will be taping in a few minutes. I see Burbank Peak to the west and ponder a hike to there sometime. I'm loving the gorgeous weather and clear visibility.

4:55 - Leave Cahuenga Peak and head back, carefully negotiating the steep trail. Nearing Mt. Lee, I take a final pic down on the Hollywood sign from a nice vantage point on the ridge. Now back on Mt. Lee Drive. Since I'm pressing up against a 5:56 sunset, I decide to return via Mulholland Trail. I transition to that trail (wide dirt road) and in few minutes explore a spur trail heading down a ridge toward Sunset Ranch stables and get some pics back toward the Hollywood sign. Continuing on Mulholland Trail as the sun sets and dusk begins to fall on L.A. There is a real beauty to this time of day. Pass the junctions for Hollyridge Trail and Brush Canyon Trail.

Dusk in Griffith Park 6:13 - Mt. Hollywood Drive. Now on a paved road for the remainder of my trip as darkness sets over Griffith Park and the lights of human sprawl twinkle in the valley below. The temperatures are still very pleasant. My pace is causal.

6:52 - Finish hike at Griffith Observatory parking lot. I wander over to the observatory and view Orion Nebula through a telescope set up on the sidewalk. Enjoy talking astronomy with one of the observatory staff.

Epilog - Another rewarding adventure in Griffith Park. Covered about 7 miles, 1,400 feet in total elevation gain, and the park's four highest peaks. I enjoyed complete solitude on Mt. Chapel and Cahuenga Peak and their trails. Warm and sunny, excellent visibility, green hillsides, plants starting to bloom...a thoroughly enjoyable outing! icon

camera View photo album of this hike - 40 photos

Griffith Icon See Hiking Griffith Park at Dan's Hiking Pages
  (includes links to my other blog posts for hiking in Griffith Park)

Boot Icon See hike descriptions on Dan’s Hiking Pages
(Detailed trail guide including driving directions, recommended season, map, notes, links, and photos)
NEXT > Mt. Bell and Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park Hike - October 6, 2011
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  1. Very nice write-up. I keep intending to go back up Mt. Lee, or do a few other hikes around Griffith Park. Just never seems convenient compared to things closer to home.

    Glad you had a nice view of the Orion Nebula. I did a star party for a church in Hacienda Heights on Friday. Despite the thin high clouds, we got a great view of the nebula then, too. It's one of the few deep sky objects that you can see from town and actually see some structure to it.

  2. Enjoyed your pictures and description of the hike. :)