One of the great advantages of living in Los Angeles is the access to nature and the great outdoors, and there is no more amazing example than Griffith Park. Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States.
It rises in the Hollywood Hills, home of the iconic Hollywood Sign, and occupies over 4,000 acres, situated right between Hollywood, Burbank and Glendale. And yet, when you escape into the middle of it, you have the feeling of being miles from civilization and completely surrounded by nature.
The park includes many recreational features such as golf courses, tennis courts, outdoor amphitheaters and the famous observatory; however, an astonishingly large portion of the park is completely undeveloped, virtually unchanged from the days Native American villages occupied the area's lower slopes. At its highest point, the park rises from 384 to 1,625 feet above sea level.
One of our favorite hikes is the Hogback Trail, which can be accessed from several points within the park. The easiest to find is adjacent to the Greek Theater (see directions and a map here.) The walk begins with a gentle walk around the back side of a golf course, but then quickly rises quickly up a fairly steep hill and then brings you to a high ridge that feels like the top of the world.
From this vantage point, one can see all of Los Angeles on one side and the entire San Fernando Valley plus Burbank and Glendale on the other side. We have hiked many trails in and around Los Angeles, but none have greater views than these.
For the adventurous, the hike can continue to a point where it intersects with a different trail that rises from behind the L.A. Observatory (a location for many movie shoots, from Rebel Without a Cause to Transformers). Alternately, there is a trail that leads down into the San Fernando Valley side of the park, ending near the carousel.
Hiking in Griffith Park is extensive, beautiful and varied, and it is worth spending many hours exploring, rejuvenating and getting healthy!