It had long been on my California bucket list to hike to the Griffith Observatory through Griffith Park. Even though I lived in California for 24 years, and Griffith Park Observatory is one of the few things to do in Los Angeles worth braving the traffic, I only first did this hike recently with two of my besties.
Griffith Observatory is a world-class space museum on a bluff of Mount Hollywood. From it, you can see sweeping views of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, the Hollywood Sign, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. Taking the hike up from Ferndell through Griffith Park, grabbing a snack at The Trails Cafe, and exploring the free museum is an excellent thing to do in Los Angeles.
The Art Deco building of the observatory was built in 1935 and is free to enter! There is a lot to see inside so expect to spend 1-3 hours here.
Griffith Park is extensive, with over 4300 acres of green space in the middle of the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles. Our day at Griffith Park was a getaway- a respite in this busy area where you can observe the madness of the whole of LA from a comfortable distance. There are many things to do in the park, such as longer hikes, tennis, swimming, horseback riding, even visiting Walt Disney’s barn or the Greek Theater, so be sure to return later to experience more of it.
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How to Hike Up to Griffith Observatory
Where to Park for the Hike to Griffith Observatory
Navigate to The Trails Restaurant on Fern Dell Drive in Los Angeles. There is free street parking along the street or a lot farther up the road. Park wherever you find a legal space. Finding a spot before you reach the cafe will put you closer to the beginning of the hiking trail.
What is the Easiest Hike to Giffith Observatory?
The most leisurely hike starts at the Fern Dell sign on the left side of the road. This path goes through Fern Dell Nature Museum and is a .5-miles walk on a dirt path through Sycamore trees and along a man-made stream.
When you reach The Trails Cafe, you can stop for a snack. Eat at the picnic tables behind the cafe. If you have kids with you, they can play on the playscape. The restaurant offers coffees, teas, simple sandwiches, quiches, and unique pastries. The flavors change daily, but I had a yummy chocolate lavender scone the day I ate here.
After your snack, cross to the other side of the street. Head up the hill. When you reach the public restrooms after the playground, you can choose the trail to take.
We chose to go up the West Observatory Trail to the left. Then we completed the loop to come down on the right on the East Observatory Trail.
This loop is about 1.75 miles long with an elevation gain of 610 feet. Dogs are allowed if leashed but can’t come into the observatory.
If you want a longer hike, there are many choices. One will take you to the Hollywood sign, and I will come back for that one day. Check out a park trail map for other options. Griffith Park can be found at the bottom of this map.
About 3.4 of the way up, you will get these spectacular views!
And these are the views you can get from the top of the hike!
Despite crowds on the trails, you can see wildlife. We saw lots of California grey squirrels, a red-tailed hawk, and an acorn woodpecker on this hike.
I am so glad to have made this hike with my friends, and it is definitely going on the list of my favorite things to do in LA. The others are the Getty Villa in Malibu and Olvera Street.
What are your favorite things to do in LA?