Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mt. Hollywood, Mt. Bell, Mt. Chapel, Mt. Lee, Cahuenga Peak - 10/12/11

We took an unexpected day off during the recent hot spell and instead of spending it inside our nice cool Westside apartment, we headed to Griffith Park to bag some Santa Monica peaklets in the 100 degree weather. In addition to the five we climbed, there are a few other nearby peaks that we would've been able to include on a cooler day or if we'd started earlier: Beacon Hill, Glendale Peak, Burbank Peak and Bee Rock.  

Griffith Observatory and Downtown LA

The air wasn't quite as clear as last weekend, but the peaklings still provided us with some impressive views of Los Angeles and the ocean to the south, the San Fernando Valley to the north, the baby mountains to the west, and our San Gabriel mountains to the northeast.

Los Angeles

The trail is a runner-friendly fire road that starts out at the Observatory parking lot. Each peak requires you to leave the fire road and take a short but steep and slippery use trail to the summit, so it's possible to skip some of the peaks if five is too many. None of the trails are marked, so we ended up on an unnamed sixth peak (the one just west of Mt. Hollywood), thinking it was Mt. Bell. Some of the ascents were actually mildly strenuous, but it didn't really feel like a true peakbagging experience what with the film crew on top of Mt. Hollywood and the cars driving by on the road to Mt. Lee.

Downtown LA

Mt. Lee and Cahuenga Peak were my favorite of the bunch. Even though the "hike" to Mt. Lee is on a paved road and most of the summit is fenced off to protect the radio towers, it's exciting to get so close to the Hollywood sign after seeing it from the city for so many years. Cahuenga Peak was the only one that really felt like a hike, as it was steeper, longer, more isolated, and about 100' higher than the other four.

The Hollywood sign from Mt. Lee

Even on such a hot day with plenty of water breaks, the entire hike only took us around three hours. If you really wanted to, you could knock out all of the peaks in and around Griffith Park in one day and you'd never have to go back, but I think the views are good enough that I'd go back on a cooler day in the winter when the haze is gone and the San Gabriels are snow-covered. Standing on the minipeaks, Downtown LA is right in front of you, a unique perspective that you don't get from any other hike. As much as I love hiking in the San Gabriels, they're also great to look at, and the Griffith Park peaks are the perfect place to go to admire them.

San Gabriel Mountains


  1. Griffith Park is definitely hiking at a different pace from some of the other places you've gone!

    If I lived closer to Griffith Park (or, more precisely, if I didn't used to live closer to the San Gabriel Mountains than to Griffith Park), I'd probably hike there more often. Only been on two hikes in Griffith Park: Once, up Mt. Lee, and once, to Mt. Hollywood.

    I'm not sure about the official legality, but I think I'd like to do Mt. Hollywood in the evening, and bring up a tripod. I've seen some nifty pictures of the Observatory dome in front of the LA skyline, and would like to take one of my own.

  2. The Sierra Club does weekly night hikes in Griffith Park which are obviously legal, but I have heard of people night hiking there on their own without getting in trouble.

    Mt. Lowe would be really cool at night too.

  3. Yeah, but longer. ;D

    Thanks for the info on night hikes in Griffith Park. I may have to aim for a trip up there in December, after I get back into town.

  4. Multiple-Peak hikes in Griffith Park can be a lot of fun, particularly when the skies are clear and the hillsides are green. Thanks for sharing.