Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hike 2012.065 -- Mineral Wells to Mt. Lee

Hiked Tuesday, September 11. I had training in Burbank on Tuesday, so I decided I'd visit Griffith Park again after the class was over. Drove down Victory Blvd and eventually made my way to Riverside Drive, crossed the Ventura Freeway (CA-134), then headed west, on Zoo Drive. Right after passing Travel Town, I took a left, looking for decent access to the trails of Griffith Park.

This road turned out to be Griffith Park Road. I followed it for a winding mile and a half or so, going up, then down. Finally, as I neared what turned out to be Mineral Wells Road, there were some cars parked on the side of the road. A trail access was to the west of them, so I parked and began my hike. A large sign for Mineral Wells picnic area was right near my car.

This turns out to be the "North Trail," as indicated on the Tom LaBonge map I have mentioned before.

It's a steep trail, gaining about 150 feet in maybe 1/8 of a mile. As I climbed, I could see Burbank and Glendale behind me. I also climbed above a golf course, and a driving range.

It gained another 80-100 feet in the next 1/5 mile, as it led me up to Amir's Garden. It's one of those places I'd heard of, but did not know where it was. Now, I was there. Very lush. Well-tended. And with plenty of benches to enjoy the shade.

I stayed there for just a few minutes before returning to the North Trail. For the next 3/4 of a mile, the trail continued climbing, though less steeply. A power line ran along the road for a bit of the way. I could also see that I was on the opposite side of a habitat restoration area that I had visited on a previous hike.

Ahead of me, in the late afternoon glare, I could see Mt. Lee and Cahuenga Peak.

I was now on the Mt. Hollywood Trail. I followed it for about 1/4 of a mile, until I hit the dirt road. Then I made a right, traveling about 1/5 of a mile, through the pass between Mt. Bell and Mt. Chapel. Once on the other side, you hit a T-junction with another dirt road. There, I made a left, then a quick right. This put me on a dirt road that took me towards a water tank that is just north of Mt. Chapel. It's probably a bit under 1/4 mile to the water tank, then 1/10th of a mile up from the water tank to the top of Mt. Chapel. That's on a short use trail, which is initially steep, but requires no more than 30 or 40 vertical feet to get to the summit.

I walked over, shot a number of pictures back towards Griffith Observa-tory, then continued over. There is no trail indicated on the Tom LaBonge map, but the use trail is very well defined (as are several others, some of which skirt transversely along Mt. Bell, and two of which go right on to the top).

The trail that heads along the ridge line to the southwest of Mt. Lee continues for about 2/5ths of a mile. There are a couple of places with substantial drop offs and scenic views to the south. In several spots, the Mulholland Trail is right below you. It's junction with the Hollyridge Trail also occurs far below your perch.

As your trail continues heading to the west, several use trails split off, for other vistas. However, if you stay on the main path, you are soon delivered right on to Mt. Lee Road. Make a right at the pavement, and continue up this road 1/2 mile, to the top of Mt. Lee. That's near the radio towers, and behind the Hollywood Sign.

Just where the road makes a hairpin turn and makes the final run to the summit of Mt. Lee, there's a monument and a somewhat-hidden trail that goes to the west. That one heads on to Cahuenga Peak. From there, you could also continue at least to Burbank Peak. That was ground I also covered in a previous hike.

Today, I had no desire to continue far to the south and west, but I did want to get a peek at the view from the ridge just east of the Hollywood Sign. I went up that way maybe 50 yards, then came back and returned the way I came.

Hard to be certain on the mileage. If you add up all the segments and double it, you'd be at about 4 miles. My suspicion is the total mileage was probably between 4.5 and 5 miles roundtrip. Although going to Mt. Lee from Mineral Wells was probably one mile shorter each way than going from the Griffith Observatory, I think the degree of difficulty is considerably higher. That's a pretty long and strenuous climb from Mineral Wells up to the ridge line.

Dogs on leashes are permitted (pick up after your dog), and no entry or parking fees are required.

The main point of this hike was to scout possible locations to photograph the impending arrival of the space shuttle Endeavour in Los Angeles (Now scheduled for Friday--postponed a day because of weather). It is considered likely that a flyby of the Hollywood Sign will be part of the victory lap, and I am going to try to get some good pictures of the shuttle and the Observatory on Thursday (or later, if the arrival turns out to be delayed).

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