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A true L.A. workout: Hiking Griffith Park

Griffith Park is a popular hiking destination with dozens of trails and routes. This one will guide you through one of the park’s little-known sanctuaries, while giving you magnificent views of the city.

1. Start this walk in Los Feliz, on North Commonwealth Avenue, north of Los Feliz Boulevard. Find street parking somewhere below the 2600 block and begin walking uphill. Veer left and walk past a broad white gate blocking vehicle traffic, and follow (unmarked) Commonwealth Canyon Drive.

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2. After a short distance, turn right at the first available opportunity onto (unmarked) Vista Del Valle Drive. Follow this paved road as it climbs above one of Griffith Park’s nursery and maintenance yards.

3. As the road begins to plateau and bend to the left, find a wide dirt trail on the right. Follow this downhill for a short stretch to find the park’s Cedar Grove. This lovely shaded spot features picnic tables, trash cans, and a wealth of welcome peace and quiet.

4. Return to Vista Del Valle, turn right, and continue ascending, slowly to admire the subtle mural on the green water tank on the left and the views of Glendale, Burbank and the L.A. River on the right. Walk on as the eucalyptus-lined road makes a sharp hairpin turn to the left, and climb a little more past a big water tank on the right.

This unique trail located south of Griffith Park holds views of the cities, bikers, and hikers.
This unique trail located south of Griffith Park holds views of the cities, bikers, and hikers. (Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times)

5. Soon you will come to a broad asphalt apron on the left side of the road. Pause here to take in the big views of Hollywood, the Griffith Observatory, and Roosevelt Golf Course, then walk on.

6. When you come to a left turn and a small, green building made out of wood, turn left and head downhill — not uphill! — on a wide dirt path. This is Riverside Trail. Follow it as it winds down and around the hillside. When you find yourself next to paved Commonwealth Canyon Road again, you can cut out and take the short cut home. Otherwise, continue on as Riverside Trail leads you to views of the Vermont Canyon tennis facility and the cheap seats in the Greek Theatre.

7. Turn left at the first big intersection, and head down the trail into Vermont Canyon. Past the tennis courts (and a public restroom), when you hit a paved road next to the golf course, turn left and return to your starting point.

STATS

Distance: 3.2 miles

Difficulty: 3 on a scale of 1 to 5

Duration: 1 ½ - 2 hours

Details: Free street parking. OK for pets on leashes. Bicycles are allowed in some areas, barred in others: Pay attention to signage. Accessible by 180 and 181 bus lines and Dash Los Feliz and Dash Observatory.

Fleming is the author of “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and “Secret Walks: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles.” Each month, he leads a free walk at one of his favorite spots in Southern California. Find out more at his Facebook page, Secret Stairs. He is on Twitter @misterfleming

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