Hiked Tuesday, June 28. Still catching up. I'm pretty sure this was during the Cajon Pass fire, though the Santa Clarita or Ventura fires may have also been going. There have been many nights at the Observatory where plumes of smoke choked off the view. All those fires have simply blurred into a summer of fire and smoke.
This is by far my favorite hike in the park. It's long enough to fel like a workout, gives you some of the most dramatic scenery in the park to overlook, and hits several of the most iconic sights of the south-facing portions of Griffith Park.
I always start at the Observatory, which you can reach by taking either Hillhurst north from Los Feliz to Vermont, or just take Vermont north from Los Feliz, up past the Greek Theater, through the Vermont Tunnel, then left up to the parking lot.
Of course, since Iwork here, I can always find parking. For most, finding parking at the Observatory Lot can be a challenge, almost any time. If so, parking down near where the paved Mt. Hollywood Drive departs from Vermont Canyon or West Observatory Road would also work fine. Your path would be different, and perhaps less scenic, but still nice, and even a little shorter.
From the Observatory Parking Lot, head north. The Charlie Turner Trail starts at the end of the parking lot. There's now a display board with a map of the park, and a sign with some walking distances given. The tricky part is that there are multiple routes to several destinations, and I'm not sure which route they use to calculate the distances.
Continue north, passing the Berlin Children's Forest. Views of the Hollywood sign are visible through those trees, and along the way past here. You'll descend down a hill shortly after the forest. As you approach the "bridge" that passes over the Vermont Tunnel, a trail will come up from your left. That's one way you could join this hike if you parked down below and wanted to take the same route. More likely, you'd have just walked up Mt. Hollywood Drive, instead.
You cross over the tunnel and enjoy expansive views to your southeast and southwest.
Right on the other side of the bridge is a steep trail that runs up the spine towards Mt. Hollywood. It joins the trail that comes up from the "Bird Sanctuary" (top of Vermont Avenue/Vermont Canyon Road, where it makes the turn to the left and makes a short, steep climb to the Vermont Tunnel entrance). About 1/4 steep mile later, it joins the Charlie Turner Trail right where the trail splits to go either clockwise or counterclockwise around Mt Hollywood. I'm not sure which route is the official Charlie Turner Trail there, or if both are, or if neither is.
Personally, I prefer to stay on the Charlie Turner Trail all the way up to that split. It's a nice, easy climb, and I enjoy the longer, less strenuous climb.
Once at the split, I'm not sure which way is faster. For me, the deciding factor is usually based on which side is shaded, and whether I'm hot or cold.
Either way meets up at the northeast end, a bit below the peak. If you wanted to bag the peak, it's about 1/5 of a mile from that reunion of trails. Incidentally, if you went counterclockwise, you'll pass Dante's View, and a trail that would take you past Glendale Peak, and on to the southeast.
Once at the reunion, either after, or without having visited Mount Hollywood's Summit, you head north. Stay on the nice fire road that heads towards another peak. That's Mount Bell.
Personally, I follow that fire road to the exposed water pipes, then walk up that use trail. It takes me to the north end of Mount Bell, where it runs into another fire road. Follow that road around Mt. Bell. Continue heading west, and you'll run into Mt. Hollywood Drive, again. Continue just a bit further west,and Mt. Hollywood Drive dives down to the north.
Rather than going down that hill, look for the trail that's on your left. It may not be signed. Follow that a bit up the ridge, towards another hill, which is Mt. Chapel. Rather than trying to summit that hill, look for the use trail that contours along its southern flank. If you did this right, you'll soon be walking with a rather steep dropoff to your left, and the broad fire road that is the Mulholland "trail" further down below. After less than 1/2 mile of walking along this ridge, you look for the trail that bears down a bit to your left. Not a steep descent, mind you. It just departs from the trail that wold otherwise dead-end overlooking Mt. Lee Drive.
Again, if you did this right, you run right into Mt. Lee Drive (paved). Follow it to your right to get up above the Hollywood Sign, and/or get to Cahuenga Peak and Burbank Peak. Alternatively, if you go down and to your left, you could eventually get as close as legally possible to the bottom of the Hollywood Sign. That requires a little trick of passing through the gate to Mulholland Highway, the passing right (around the gate) to get on to the trail that goes below the sign. That trail, were you to follow it, ends near Innsdale and Canyon Lake Drives.
On the other hand, if you turned right, you follow the pavement up the hill. When it makes a hairpin turn to the left, staying on it would take you to the top of Mt. Lee. On the other hand, at that turn, there's a monument to he acquisition of the land that is Cahuenga Peak. And, more recently, a trail sign was added, giving the distance to Cahuenga Peak and Burbank Peak. Head up that narrow trail, and enjoy views overlooking Lake Hollywood, the Hollywood Sign, and much of southern California.
Then follow that trail (difficult, at times, with fair dropoffs near by) over Cahuenga Peak, then further west, to Burbank Peak. That's the one with the lone pine tree ("The Magic Tree"), and annoying stacks of rocks. Great views both north and south as you approach Burbank Peak. Great place to enjoy a sunset, too. But that'll mean getting back after dark.
Return the way you came. About eight miles, roundtrip.
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