On Tuesday morning, June 30, the dawn was met by a handcrafted wooden tea house which was constructed overnight on the northeast flank of Baby Bell (aka Taco Peak) in Griffith Park. The 80-square-foot Japanese style structure was built anonymously by local artisans using wood reclaimed from redwood trees burned in the devastating 2007 Griffith Park fire. Because the teahouse was erected illegally, the city is planning to remove it (one report says on or by July 27). Griffith Park is a historical landmark and it takes a long process for a piece of art to be approved.
This fascinating story grabbed my attention so I just had to visit the teahouse for myself. A Friday afternoon hike after work was the plan.
Upon emerging from the gardens I walk north through the picnic area shaded by sycamores, oaks, and redwoods. I’ve had some good hikes begin from here. Park personnel have the northbound lane of Western Canyon Road blocked to traffic. I pick up a park map from the attendant and I’m glad to see that they revised it in 2014.
The vegetation alongside the trails is covered with dust from all the foot traffic with no hint that it rained last weekend. There is a fair amount of foot traffic on the trails today. The Hollywood sign stands silhouetted against the late afternoon sun. I reflect on my rewarding hike there a month ago. Mount Hollywood looms above me. I stop to photograph the tiny white flowers of dodder (witch’s hair).
I’m treated with great views north and northeast. Downtown Glendale basks in the sun.
6:23 - Four-point Junction north of Mt. Hollywood. I turn right and walk due north along the watershed divide toward Baby Bell. My pace is brisk. At the junction I veer left unto the narrow rutted path that will skirt the east flank of Baby Bell. I’m eager.
An empty and irresistible concrete foundation, fallen redwoods, local decomposed granite, bell, wishes
Built from redwoods killed in the 2007 Griffith Park Fire, the teahouse is a love letter to Los Angeles and a quit perch for urban reflection. In homage to the fire, the timbers were lightly charred before assembly.
What wishes will swirl up into the city?
The Griffith Park Griffin is a rare puma/red-tailed hawk hybrid.
GPTHP.001.2015; @gparkteahouse; #gparkteahouse
Upon making a wish, a guest seals it by ringing the red bell that hangs in a window. It has a pleasing tone.
I am usually a law and order kind of person, and know that clandestinely building things on public property sets bad precedent, however, I for one would like to see the charming teahouse remain.
After lingering sufficiently, I leave at 6:46 and head toward Mount Bell. How can I come this far without climbing my favorite peak in Griffith Park!? Eight minutes deliver me to the summit.
I leave the peak, retrace my steps, and arrive back at the teahouse at 7:10. It’s mostly in the shade now and other guests are visiting. I take a few more pictures and say good-bye to the Griffith Park Teahouse. I have a little remorse knowing it probably won’t be here for long. I trace my steps toward Mt. Hollywood. There’s still foot traffic coming and going in the setting sun. After the four-point junction I keep going straight and am rewarded with a splendid view south. The bull-dozed summit of iconic Mt. Hollywood calls me hither.
The grand observatory stands regally on its perch below. The sun is directly above Mt. Lee (the Hollywood sign) and not long till disappearing. There is a pleasant breeze. My plan is to catch the Metro 181 at Los Feliz and Vermont at 8:15, so I can’t linger long.
I leave the summit at 7:31 and head directly south down the steep use path. Down and down I go. I’m enjoying the golden light and picturesque scenery. The famed observatory basks in the fleeting rays of sun. I get shots of our solar orb setting behind Burbank Peak as I near the Vermont bridge. I cross the bridge and get a final chance to shoot the sunset from the Berlin Forest.
See Hiking Griffith Park at Dan's Hiking Pages
(includes links to my other blog posts for hiking in Griffith Park)
Relevant trail descriptions for this hike at Dan’s Hiking Pages:
- Ferndell to Griffith Observatory via West Observatory Trail
- Mt. Hollywood (1625') via Griffith Observatory with options to Mt. Bell and beyond
- Griffith Observatory via East Observatory Trail
- Brush Canyon to Mt. Bell (1582’) with options to Mt. Hollywood and more
Relevant blog posts at Dan’s Hiking Blog:
- Western Cyn to Mt. Hollywood & Bell in Griffith - Sept. 12, 2013
- Observatory to Mt. Hollywood & Bell in Griffith - Sept. 19, 2013
- Mt. Hollywood, Mt. Bell Hike - 10-10-10
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