Health & Fitness

Wilson Golf Course in Griffith Park a fine walk near the links

I've long thought it was a shame that those big green expanses of golf courses are reserved for golfers and that the city ought to open up a pedestrian lane circling them so the rest of us can enjoy the greenery. Well, turns out they did, sort of. Here is a fine walk around a section of Griffith Park's Wilson Golf Course that has all the appeal of a fine walk around the links.

1. Park as close as possible to the visitors center building on Crystal Springs Drive, turning in at the signs for Crystal Springs Picnic Area. Find the wide pedestrian/equestrian path bordered by a split-rail fence, and follow it downhill, toward the freeway.

2. After about five minutes, where the pedestrian path hits a T intersection, turn left, with the freeway on your right and a golf course on your left. As you walk along, the traffic hum will lessen as the woods get thicker.

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3. Off to your left, separated by lines of eucalyptus and oak trees, are the fairways. Walking here on a warm July Sunday, I saw a coyote and several deer — and lots of golfers — but not many walkers. Note as you go that the split-rail fence is actually made of shaped concrete.

4. At the next intersection, turn left, keeping the green golf course on your left. (Or if you want a really long walk, go straight. The path goes all the way past the Autry National Center to the Travel Town railroad museum.) Continue bearing left, staying on the pedestrian path as it follows the rail fence and stays under the eucalyptus trees.

5. When the path meets pavement, turn left onto Crystal Springs Road, keeping the golf course still to your left. (This is where the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power used to hold its annual Holiday Light Festival, and one day may again.)

6. Approaching an outdoor exercise area, the pedestrian path bends left and heads downhill. Stop here, at your starting point. The parking area should be just behind the visitors center.

Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles" and "Secret Stairs East Bay: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Berkeley and Oakland."

charles.fleming@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @misterfleming

The stats

Distance: 3.2 miles
Difficulty: 1, on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1 1/2 hours
Details: Dogs on a leash are OK. Free parking. Metro bus line 96.

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