The 6 best, quietest places in Griffith Park
Griffith Park is one of the largest city parks in the country, so there’s no need to crowd into the same handful of spots. I’ve been hiking here for 17 years, since long before writing the first guidebook to all 4,310 acres. As the trails fill up with Angelenos stir-crazy from quarantine, here are some less-traveled areas worth checking out. Remember to wear a mask and go early — the better to enjoy cooler temperatures and avoid the foot traffic.
“Discovering Griffith Park,” a history-rich guidebook by Casey Schreiner, gives one of the country’s largest, greatest city parks its due.
Probably my favorite way to enter the park — the site of a natural spring and a shaded garden being renovated and restored. On hot days, the tall tree canopy tends to keep temperatures noticeably cooler than the rest of the park.
The easternmost peak of the Santa Monica Mountains is approachable by several routes, and on clear days it affords some of the park’s finest views. It’s also a great place to imagine the park’s former life as an aerospace hot spot: The peak was named for an actual beacon that guided early aviators to the Griffith Park Airport (sometimes called the Griffith Aviation Park or Griffith Aerodrome) to the north.
The Bird Sanctuary
One of the earliest improvements to the park, this historic area was almost totally destroyed by the 2007 Griffith Park Fire. The Friends of Griffith Park have been working to bring the area back to life with native plants, and they welcome volunteer help for plantings and maintenance. It’s a nice, quiet part of the park hidden between two of its biggest attractions, Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre.
The Bette Davis Picnic Area
Just north of the Los Angeles River, this broad, open spot is one of the least crowded in the park — a perfect place for socially distanced hellos with friends you haven’t seen in a while. There are tall sycamore trees for shade, and you’re likely to see horseback riders. I do wish we could get a sound wall to mitigate the noise from the 134 freeway, but you could always close your eyes and pretend it’s the ocean, right?
Eric Nusbaum’s “Stealing Home” follows a family displaced from Chavez Ravine, where Dodger Stadium was built.
Toyon Canyon Restoration Area
This landfill in the middle of the park (yeah, there’s a landfill here) doesn’t sound like a great destination on paper, but for views and solitude it’s tough to beat. You can loop the restoration area from Mineral Wells and have long stretches to yourself. Hopefully in our lifetimes we’ll get to see the landfill turned into parkland, which is what we were promised in the 1950s.
The Skyline Trail
Running along a ridge from Travel Town to the L.A. Zoo, it’s popular with runners and equestrians but hikers tend to overlook it. Their loss: The trail has some of the best views of the Verdugo and San Gabriel mountains to the north. The view toward Glendale from the eastern end is one of my favorites in the park — the Los Angeles River, the 134/5 interchange and the sprawl of L.A. hemmed in by the San Gabriels.
Schreiner is the author of “Discovering Griffith Park: A Local’s Guide” and the founder of ModernHiker.com.
Love a good book?
Get the latest news, events and more from the Los Angeles Times Book Club, and help us get L.A. reading and talking.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.