I leave my office in Echo Park at 3:00 and head for Griffith Park. My plan was to begin at the Bird Sanctuary in Vermont Canyon, but a Furthur concert at the Greek Theater created traffic and parking chaos. So plan B was to begin at the Vermont Tennis Courts on Commonwealth Canyon Drive.
3:30 PM - Begin walking north through the tennis courts on the wide dirt road into the unnamed canyon (bordered by Vermont Canyon on the west and Aberdeen Canyon on the east). The sun feels good. I love the chaparral aroma after a rain. My pace is fast. I see walkers on the trails above. Pass the junction of Riverside Trail and keep heading north, now on a narrow path. Hogback Ridge looms ahead. In a few minutes the nice path ends and a steep use trail cuts right and climbs the east canyon wall. I’ve been here once before and purposed to come back and hike that route.
So up I climb. Foot steps have been cut into the granite making the climb quite doable. It’s a fun hands-and-feet scamper (maybe not suitable for novices or the faint of heart) and in 10 minutes I reach Hogback Trail. What beautiful vistas...from Glendale to Downtown L.A. to Hollywood to Pales Verde Peninsula...and my friends: Glendale Peak, Beacon Hill, and Mt. Hollywood. There is a cool breeze. Clouds loom over the San Gabriels. I continue northwest on Hogback Trail. It is steep but my “Mt. Baldy legs” climb well. The clouds cast blotchy shadows. I’m enjoying the sun and the bird’s-eye view of the park’s east end. Soon more friends come into view to the north and northwest: Bee Rock, “Baby Bell,” and Mt. Bell.
4:07 - “Hogback Peak”...as I call it. I’m soaking in the beauty of the rugged park and vast human sprawl beyond. I have a nice view of the route I came up. Keep pressing on and soon I reach Dante’s View and the junction. The rain freshened up the garden and I am tempted to just sit and enjoy it, but I press on continuing west.
4:23 - Four-point junction north of Mt. Hollywood (#33). More friends come into view to the west: Mt. Chapel, Mt. Lee, and Cahuenga Peak. I upload a photo to Facebook. I decide to head north to Mt. Bell, my most-climbed peak in Griffith Park. Walk along the ridge and enjoy expansive scenery. The late afternoon sun illuminates Bee Rock against a background of dark green. I take the route straight up the south ridge of “Baby Bell,” as I call it, and arrive at the summit at 4:42. I still wonder what the story is behind the octagon cement structure. I follow the path down the northwest ridge and in a few minutes arrive at the main trail and in another 50 yards to the Bell/Baby Bell saddle. Now I scramble up the narrow path to Mt. Bell. It’s odd to see bare-foot human foot prints.
4:54 - Mt. Bell (1582’). Surrounded by 20 millions people, I enjoy solitude on this splendid peak. The late afternoon sun casts a warm light on the surrounding hills. Mt. Lee to the west stands in silhouette. Upload another photo to Facebook. I’d like to linger but I must be back to the car by 6:00. Leave Mt. Bell at 5:12 and retrace my steps. I skirt “Baby Bell” along its north and east flanks and soon head south along the ridge. Pass the four-point junction (#33) and head to Mt. Hollywood. Lot’s of picturesque images to capture.
5:29 - Mt. Hollywood (1625’)—the crown of Griffith Park. There are always people here. Clouds loom. Griffith Observatory stands regally to the south with the downtown skyline rising as an island in the vast human sprawl. The iconic Hollywood sign adorns Mt. Lee to the west. The air is cool now. I say goodbye to Mt. Hollywood at 5:35 and head straight down the path steeply descending the south ridge (the route I climbed on my last visit to this summit). Soon reach the five-point junction at Charlie Turner Trail and continue straight south. In minutes I say farewell to my last view of the Hollywood sign and swing east into Vermont Canyon. The narrow path is a nice contrast to the wide dirt roads. A crowd is swelling at the Greek Theater below. The sun still sits on the crest of the west ridge. Near the canyon bottom a chain-link fence restricts access to the Bird Sanctuary which was badly burned in the May 2007 fire.
5:58 - Vermont Canyon Road. Lots of activity for the Furthur concert. Now the 10-minute walk back to the car.
Epilog - What a splendid hike! Griffith Park is such a treasure for Angelinos. Everything was so fresh from the rain. Clouds, sun, breeze, chaparral aromas, beautiful scenery, some solitude, good exercise, and exploring a new path—all contributed to a thoroughly enjoyable outing.
See Hiking Griffith Park at Dan's Hiking Pages
(includes links to my other blog posts for hiking in Griffith Park)
See blog posts from previous hikes in Griffith Park:
- Mt. Bell via North Trail Hike - July 8, 2010
- Griffith Park Six Peaks Hike - August 5, 2010
- Mt. Hollywood, Mt. Bell Hike - 10-10-10
- Mt. Lee and More in Griffith Park Hike - March 9, 2011
NEXT > Burbank Peak, Cahuenga Peak, Mt. Lee - December 30, 2011
PREVIOUS > Mt. Lee and More in Griffith Park Hike - March 9, 2011 (Mt. Hollywood, Mt. Chapel, Mt. Lee, Cahuenga Peak via Griffith Observatory)