Griffith Park Traverse: Hiking 11 Peaks Across the Park

Ever since I started hiking in Los Angeles, I have wanted to do a hike across the entirety of Griffith Park. This park is a staple of LA and a beautiful place to get out and explore. I have hiked many of the park’s trails over the years, but I wanted to do a hike that saw as much of the park as possible in one path. When I stumbled on the 12-peak challenge on All Trails, I figured this hike would check all the boxes and set out to try it in March 2023. This trail is challenging and unique, crossing the park and visiting most of the park’s peaks while also passing The Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory. I am calling it the Griffith Park Traverse in this post, and here is all the information if you want to do the hike.

Details

  • You can do it as a long out and back if you follow this All Trails map, or you can do it as I did with a ride share to the start.
  • With two cars or a rideshare, the trail is about seven miles with 2,000 feet of gain.
  • You need to download a trail map to follow; there are only signs for a few of the trails.

Getting There and Logistics

We arrived early on a weekday (6:45 AM) and parked at the parking lot for the Merry Go Round in Griffith Park. From there, we called an Uber and took it to the Wonder View Trailhead, where the hike to the Wisdom Tree starts. This was about an $18 ride and took 15-20 minutes. From here, we started the trail and hiked through the park back to our car.

The Griffith Park Traverse

Leaving from our drop-off point, we headed up through the neighborhood to the trailhead. You cannot get dropped off right next to the mountain, and you must walk up through the neighborhood to the start of the trail.

From the official trailhead, the trail climbs about 600 feet in a half mile. The gain here is on a series of switchbacks, and it gives you great views over the city as you continue to climb up.

The wildflowers were blooming while we hiked, making for a very colorful day on the trail.

Peak 1 – Burbank Peak

Eventually, we made it up to the American Flag and the Wisdom Tree, which marks the summit of Burbank Peak, our first peak on this trail.

After hanging out for a bit, we started walking the ridge line toward our next peak.

Peak 2 – Cahuenga Peak

The next peak is a short quarter mile from the first, and it is relatively easy with a gradual climb up to the top. Your views will be a little blocked, but there is a marker you can see before continuing on.

Peak 3 – Mt Lee

As you descend toward Mt Lee, you will reach the first of a few sketchier parts of the trail. This one is easy to navigate but can be slippery and requires a small scramble down.

The trail also has a steep uphill here before you get your first side views of the sign and will descend to the paved road that takes you to Mt Lee.

Be sure to go to the top of the small hill to get a good view of The Hollywood Sign from behind.

Peak 4 – Mt Chapel

It is about a mile walk from Mt Lee to Mt Chapel. Half of this walk is on the paved road before it heads off to the left on a dirt spur.

The spur trail will take you up to Mt Chapel, and as you get closer to the summit, the trail is steep and was pretty overgrown when we were there.

You will have good views from Mt Chapel back towards Mt Lee and Cahuenga Peak.

Peak 5 – Baby Bell

The descent from Mt Chapel is steep and slippery but not technically challenging.  You will reach a dirt road and almost immediately leave it to head out on a small track again.

This path was easily one of the most overgrown, and you can tell it doesn’t get much traffic. I don’t know if this counts as a peak as it doesn’t show up on the map, but All Trails says it is. We only stayed briefly at the top; there was no marker, so we just went down the other side.

Peak 6 – Mt Bell

Mt Bell was next, and it was very close to Baby Bell. The trail is a pretty steep single track. It was overgrown, and there were many sections where you had to get small to get under some of the tree branches.

Eventually, we reached the top and could see Taco Peak and Mt Hollywood in front of us. The descent here was steep but not too bad, and eventually, we were back on the dirt path.

Peak 7 – Taco Peak

Almost immediately, a spur trail heads off to the right and up to Taco Peak. This is easier than the previous climbs as it is a short hike up to the top and not too steep.

From the summit, there is a large circular cement base for something, but I don’t know what it was used for.

The descent from here follows a steel pipe and is not too bad.

Peak 8 – Mt Hollywood

The hike to Mt Hollywood is one of the easiest of the day. You will hike a quarter of a mile on a wide dirt road to the summit. The views are great towards the Hollywood Sign and the trail you have already done.

This is where you will encounter many other people, as the hike up to Mt Hollywood is very popular.

The views from Mt Hollywood are amazing, looking down on Griffith Park, towards the Hollywood Sign, and over to Downtown LA.

Optional Excursion – Dante’s View

You will pass Dante’s View as you head down from Mt Hollywood on the Hogback Trail.

Dant’s View feels like a hidden garden with many flowering plants and shade. If you are looking for an excellent spot to sit and have lunch, this is undoubtedly a good one.

Peak 9 – Hogback Peak

Following the Hogback Trail, you will head up to another “peak.” I couldn’t find this one on the map, but it is in All Trails.

The peak is only a 2-minute walk off the main trail, so it is easy to go up to the top of it, and it has some great views, but there is no summit marker.

Peak 10 – Glendale Peak

Heading down from Hogback, it is all downhill on a relatively easy dirt path. The views are great here and hiking along the ridge line was fun. You will see a bridge near the split for the peak, which you can walk across to continue the hike.

I was surprised to see the bridge, but it was nice not to descend down the steep section and simply walk across.

After the bridge, the trail splits off to Glendale Peak. There are a few switchbacks, but getting to the top is relatively easy. There were a lot of wildflowers here too, which were beautiful.

I highly recommend you go back the way you came and connect with the dirt path around Glendale Peak from here. If you don’t and continue straight, you will reach the sketchiest part of the trail, about a 15-20 foot scramble with slippery sand and lots of opportunity to slip and hurt yourself as you try to find the best way down.

Peak 11 – Beacon Hill

After descending, you will connect with a paved and dirt path that crosses a popular viewpoint towards Downtown LA.

The trail from here is about a mile as you gradually descend toward Beacon Hill.

When you reach the base of Beacon Hill, it is a steep 100-foot hike up to the summit.

From the summit, the views are mostly blocked, but it is cool to see the freeway below you and know that you hiked across Griffith Park.

Leaving Beacon Hill, a small spur will take you back to the parking area. It is unmarked, so use your All Trails download to find it.

This path descends back to the parking area, and it is somewhat steep, with lots of rocks along the trail. It is not complicated, but you must watch your footing as you go down.

This trail will dump you out across the street from where you parked, completing the Griffith Park Traverse. This traverse of Griffith park is a fantastic trail and one of the best in LA. Be sure to note some of the steep sections above, and let me know what you think if you do it!

California, Destinations

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