Griffith Park is L.A.'s largest city park, but at 4,200 hilly acres it's so large, and so mountainous, that hikers unfamiliar with the area may not know where to start. Here's a beginner's guide to a mellow, uncrowded walk with great views.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Duration: 1 hour
Difficulty: 2 (on a scale of 1 to 5)
Details: Park open 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Dogs on leash only. Ample free street parking. Metro bus routes 180, 181. Also, the Observatory shuttle runs from the Vermont/Sunset Metro Red Line station on Saturdays and Sundays, every 35 minutes between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. It costs a quarter.
1. Park on Vermont Canyon Road, near the Greek Theatre and the Roosevelt Municipal Golf Course. Begin walking east on Commonwealth Canyon Drive.
2. By a wide white gate, turn off the paved road onto a dirt path. Veer left and head uphill, enjoying good views of the public golf course and tennis courts, and the city beyond them.
3. At the trail intersection, for a very strenuous hike, turn right to climb straight uphill to the peak. You can also turn left to descend to your starting point. Otherwise, walk straight ahead.
4. From here you'll get good city views and a bird's eye look at the Greek, which opened to the public in 1931 — four years before the Griffith Observatory opened — and still the city's best outdoor music venue.
5. Back on Vermont Canyon Road, turn right and walk uphill a short spell, following the path on the right side of the road.
6. At the old Bird Sanctuary, you'll find public restrooms, drinking fountains, picnic tables and, inside the sanctuary itself, a nice quarter-mile loop filled with varieties of trees that survived the 2007 Griffith Park fire and the enclosures where exotic birds once lived. The picnic table at the top of the loop is one of the park's nicest lunch spots.
Charles Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times