Griffith Park is famous for its observatory, but it also offers some great hiking trails. I’m going to tell you about my favorite trail that takes you from the Greek Theatre to the Griffith Observatory and back.
I love this hike because it offers panoramic views of Los Angeles and the valley, views of the Hollywood Sign, ample places to picnic, and easy parking (most of the time). It has moderately steep climbs that give you a feeling of accomplishment when you’re done, and you’ll have seen some of L.A.’s most famous landmarks along the way.
Hike time without stops is about two hours.
The hike starts at the Glendale Peak trailhead and is about five miles. If you exercise regularly, it should be no problem. If you’re a couch potato, you should get in shape first! The trail is mostly wide fire roads except for a few places. The parking is ample as long as there is not some other big event going on at the park.
Important: When to Go
Griffith Park has become such a popular attraction that the crowds and traffic can be crippling if you go at the wrong times. For hiking, weekday mornings are best. Avoid weekend and holiday afternoons. And, avoid any times when the Greek Theatre is having a concert!
I would also avoid going on really hot days in the afternoon, as most of the trail is uncovered. If it’s going to be hot, go in the early morning or evening.
What to Bring
For simple list of what to bring, check out my practical day-hike checklist at my other site, TheFrugalNoodle.com:
Getting There and Parking
On Google Maps, search for directions to the Greek Theater, then pass it and park in lot G.
If you prefer directions: Get on Los Feliz Blvd, then turn north on Vermont or Hillhurst. Continue up on Vermont and pass the Greek Theatre. Immediately after the Greek, there is a large parking lot, Lot G on your left.
There should be ample free parking during the day (unless there is a concert at the Greek Theatre – check in advance!) You may also be able to find parking along the side of the road.
There is a restroom at the north end of Lot G, so use it if you need to.
Finding the Trailhead
To get to the trailhead, cross Vermont and find the sign with a trail map. On Google Maps, it is labeled as the “Glendale Peak Trailhead”. On the posted map, it will show up as the trailhead for the Riverside Trail. That is what it looks like:
This hike will take you in a loop to various peaks, through the Observatory, and back to the street just south of the Greek Theatre.
Start up the Riverside trail to find a wide fire road with some great views of downtown L.A.
Before too long you’ll reach Glendale Peak. Follow the signs to go to Dante’s View. The views and scenery along the way should be pretty amazing.
You’ll also have good views of the Observatory.
Near Dante’s View, there is a park-like area with benches and palm trees. It is an ideal place for a picnic or snack.
From Dante’s peak, I recommend taking an out-and-back detour to Mt. Hollywood Peak, which offers views of the Hollywood sign and a spectacular 360-degree view of Los Angeles and the Valley!
Getting to the Observatory
After you return to the loop, proceed down until you reach a fork in the trail with multiple options. Here, it gets pretty confusing. If you proceed straight ahead on the backbone trail toward the Observatory, you’re in for a very steep climb and an even steeper descent. It is the most direct, but you’ll have to scramble on all fours in parts. That’s fine if you’re up for a little adventure and don’t mind scrambling over rocks.
In most cases, I recommend taking the Hollywood trail that goes West and eventually swings back East. It’s longer but much easier. When in doubt, ask other hikers for directions to the Observatory.
For the last part of the hike, take the trail that goes up through the Berlin Forest, rather than the road. You’ll go directly to the Observatory after passing through some wonderful pine trees. This is another good place for a picnic, as there are tables available in the shade.
You’ll emerge directly in the Griffith Observatory parking lot. Take some time to check out the grounds and view from there!
To get back on the trail and back to your car, walk to the left of the Observatory to find a trail that goes down the hill (it is marked). The trail will split, but keep heading down. You should end up on a side street just south of the Greek. From there, walk a short distance up Vermont back to your car in Lot G.
- As I mentioned, parking is easy at this trail because you don’t have to go very far into the park. However, please be aware of any special events going on at the park, especially concerts at the Greek, which could derail your plans.
- This hike is great right after it has rained in the fall or spring. Avoid it on a hot summer day because there is minimal shade.
- There are picnic tables and benches along the way, so bring a snack or meal!
- If you hike in the late afternoon, remember to bring an extra jacket because it can get cold up there pretty quickly.
- There are restrooms at Lot G and at the Observatory. However, the one at the Observatory can have long lines.
- The view is pretty spectacular if you can make it to the top around sunset
There you have it! I hope you enjoy this loop. Let me know how it goes for you in the comments below! What are your favorite hikes at Griffith Park? – Brian