Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Hike 2012.074 -- Griffith Park -- Old Zoo Trail, Mineral Wells Trail, Condor Trail, Skyline Trail, and Crystal Springs Drive
I considered several possible hikes on this Veteran's Day holiday, but settled on something close and easy. My initial plan was to park near the zoo, pop in there for a little while, then take a hike towards the old zoo. Old zoo and new zoo. Seemed like it would be fun.
However, as I pulled off the freeway and on to the exit lane, I saw the traffic in front of me at a dead stop. I could also see the traffic on the bridge I would need to cross to get over the 5 and to the zoo was at a standstill. I waited a moment or two, then lost patience. Clearly, this would take me 15 minutes or so just to go the 1/4 mile form the exit to the zoo parking lot.
Indeed, the drive was pretty quick and easy. Crossed over the freeway and then turned right on Griffith Park Drive. I decided I would also take this opportunity to see the official park visitor center, which I had never yet seen.
Standing near the street, I saw an American flag on a pole behind the more obvious buildings, and I deduced this was a signal that the visitor center was in there. And it was.
On the way to the visitor center, there are what I assume to be life-sized representations of various large birds you might see in the park.
Inside the visitor center, there's a nice topographical relief map of the park, with little light-up indicators for a variety of attractions that have associated buttons to push along the perimeter of the map. They also had taxidermic examples of various local wildlife: cottontail rabbit, fox, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, and opossum.
I was most amused by the little blurb next to the section on Griffith J. Griffith, who donated the land and a chunk of money for the park and observatory that bears his name. There's a paragraph in there noting that "Colonel Griffith was a Park Commissioner for a brief period of time in 1903. He later survived a brief period of scandal in his life."
Compare that treatment with what you'll read on findagrave.com's website, and you'll almost think you're reading about two entirely different people!
After getting my fill of the visitor center, I hopped back in the car and parked in the lot that's just south of the Merry-Go-Ground. This is the same place I started my hike to Bee Rock, just a few weeks previous. The trees in the lot were beginning to turn color.
I also observed that the weird Christmas decorations and singing elves I saw on my pre-Halloween hike were gone. Turns out they were part of the Haunted Hayride, which one reviewer, at least, said was worth it. I didn't go, myself.
Along the way I saw some woodpeckers. They were checking out the acorns they had "planted" for grubs to eat. I also saw Amir's Garden from the other side. There's a steep trail that heads on up there from the north, but I wasn't in the mood for the challenge.
My initial plan was to either head into the zoo or go to the Autry National Center for lunch. Yet the trails don't actually take you to those places. Instead, on the trail took me below Zoo Drive and on to a trail that paralleled the Golden State Freeway.
I ended the day tired, but happy at having covered quite a bit of new trail for the day.