A great L.A. Walk: Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood

There are so few wide-open green spaces in Los Angeles that sometimes a cemetery offers the best option for an urban nature walk.

This one is loaded with flora — and the history of flight. It welcomes visitors and is wheelchair and stroller friendly. The occasional roar of a jet will remind you that Bob Hope Airport — well, it’s now known as Burbank Hollywood Airport — is just to the north.

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1. Begin at the gates of the Valhalla Memorial Park and Mortuary on Victory Boulevard, near the intersection with Cahuenga Boulevard in North Hollywood. Park on the street and walk up the driveway into the park.

(Los Angeles Times)

2. Follow the road as it bends to the right past a monument, topped with a rifle and helmet, honoring servicemen and women, and keep an eye out for the grave of Curly Joe — Joe DeRita — of “Three Stooges” fame. For another comedy hero, you can find the marker for Oliver Hardy in the Garden of Hope area nearby. Otherwise, continue straight under a line of conifers.

3. Turn right as you approach a large fountain decorated with statues, then look for a carving on the right dedicated to King Argishti I — a hero to Armenians whose families are buried here.

Carving dedicated to King Arghisti 1 — a hero to Armenians whose families are buried at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, Calif.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

4. Follow a long straight avenue, shaded by pine, palm, oak, magnolia and even a redwood or two, past a small fountain, until the road ends.

5. This the Portal of the Folded Wings, the crown jewel of this walk. Built in 1924, and originally the front door of the Valhalla Memorial Park, this decorative rotunda was later rededicated in honor of the pioneers of L.A. aviation. Many of them — barnstormer Carl B. Squire, early aviatrix Evelyn “Bobbi” Trout, and the builders of planes and engines for Amelia Earhart and the Wright brothers — are interred here.

A small museum is open the first Sunday of the month from 1 to 3 p.m.

6. Leave the portal and turn right, following the paved driveway as it loops through the older part of the cemetery. Turn right to get back to the big fountain, then left to exit the park.

Portal of the Folded Wings at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery. Bilt in 1924, this decorative rotunda was rededicated in honor of the pioneers of L.A. aviation.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)


Distance: Approximately 2 miles round trip

Difficulty: 1 on a scale of 1 to 5


Duration: 1 hour

Details: Free parking. No pets or bicycles. Wheelchair accessible. Bus service Metro line 164.

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.