Hooray for Hollywood
That screwy, ballyhooey Hollywood
Where any office boy or young mechanic
Can be a panic, with just a goodlooking pan…
I’ve been to LA at least a dozen times – meetings, projects, hanging with old friends. And due to the location of my former employer, I usually end up bunking in the heart of Hollywood. Hollywood & Highland to be exact, the home of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the El Capitan, Madame Tussaud’s… In other words, a nightmarish hellscape of tourists, touts, bus tours, hawkers, and more stripper clothing shops than I believe there are strippers.
And as a confirmed pedestrian, it can feel like you’re trapped in the worst LA has to offer. Honestly, if I eat at California Pizza Kitchen one more time… I mean, they serve a “Bahn Mi” bowl with no spice or pickled anything… Yes, I know I’m whinging.
But this time, I had a day free to really walk, and my relieved feet took me to Griffith Park.
Here you can escape the Hollywood madness into absolute silence, surrounded by a verdant and diverse landscape. Starting from the Los Feliz Blvd entrance, the path will take you through a family oriented park and playground, shaded by tall trees. Keep going deeper and you emerge from the shade onto a wide, sunny path that climbs up Mount Hollywood about 1600 feet. The trails can be anywhere from 2-4 miles long, depending on your route, and the slopes are generally gentle.
The main trail is wide and smooth and suitable for anyone fit enough to make the ascent. You can even do it in street shoes if conditions are dry. There are smaller alternate paths, which are more typical hiking trails – rocky, narrow, and comparatively precarious. But I didn’t encounter anything actually dangerous. Well, except for a group of high school students trying to descend a sheer rock face by gripping a drainage pipe. There’s no IQ test to enter.
About half-way up you have the choice to either climb to the Hollywood sign, or to climb the adjacent and taller Mount Hollywood. And since you can’t actually see the Hollywood sign from the Hollywood sign, I opted for Mount Hollywood. Part-way up you’ll encounter Griffith Observatory, which you’ll remember from movies like…well, most of the movies set in Los Angeles, including the recent tap-dancey one.
The walk is really beautiful. I was fortunate enough to do it in perfect 60 degree weather. If you’re going when it’s really hot bring lots of water, as there are few facilities apart from the observatory. Otherwise, the trail comes with all the mod-cons.
It’s amazingly quiet up there, and hard to believe you’re in the middle of one of America’s largest and most traffic-choked cities. There are beautiful views in every direction, including the impressive mountains of the Angeles National Forest. There are also signs of wildlife all around – from warning signs for rattlesnakes (just stay on the path), to lively and curious birds like the fella at the top of this post. And yes, you can see the Hollywood sign, but fortunately no sign of Hollywood Boulevard.