Distance (round-trip)

2 mi

Time

1 hrs

Elevation Gain

580 ft

Season

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Weather

One of the most popular trails to one of the most popular attractions in Griffith Park, the West Observatory Trail shouldn’t be overlooked just because you’re not likely to find solitude on it – it’s a great way to get to some beautiful viewpoints and an excellent route for getting a little outdoor time – either as a quick jaunt or trail run or part of a larger loop combined with other routes in the park.

This particular write-up describes a simple out-and-back from the Fern Dell area. The trail begins past a playground just north of the excellent Trails Cafe. Simply cross a wooden bridge, pass the play area (and restrooms) and look for a junction with two broad fire roads.

IMG_9566

IMG_9568

Your choice of road here is mostly an aesthetic one – the two routes go to the same place and are about the same distance and difficulty – but in my opinion the road on the left is your better bet. You’ll get a quick dose of elevation gain right away, but you’ll also get to good views earlier.

There’s a small bit of shade at the very beginning of the trail, but otherwise you’re in full sun. After just one quick switchback, though, your goal unfolds in front of you:

IMG_0053

The other fire road route is visible on the right of the canyon.

As if those beautiful views of the Observatory weren’t enough for you, you’ll also have some excellent views of the Hollywood Sign to your left (as well as the Wisdom Tree sitting atop Burbank Peak).

IMG_9575

It’s nice views and easy hiking as the fire road climbs just under 360 feet in 0.8 miles. There, you’ll meet a junction with the Firebreak Trail and East Observatory Trail at a small plateau just below the Observatory itself. This is a great place to just soak in the views – especially if it’s a clear day – but better views (and science!) await you just a bit further up the trail.

IMG_9578

IMG_9580

It’s just another 0.1 miles to the front of the Observatory, where you can enjoy the beautiful (and recently restored) art deco architecture, the views of the Hollywood Sign, the statue memorial to James Dean, or the map of the solar system embedded in the ground beneath your feet.

IMG_9589

IMG_9591

IMG_9594

There are almost always killer views to be had from the Observatory – and visiting the museum’s interior is free (only planetarium shows cost money). There are often events at the observatory as well, including night hikes, star talks, and lots of other ways to get your learn on in a beautiful setting.

If you’re still in the mood to hike, there are also plenty of other options, too – you can continue north toward Berlin Forest, trek up to Mount Hollywood, or you can just try the Firebreak Trail on your way back to Fern Dell and a great sandwich at Trails.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.

Dog-Friendly

Historical Interest

Kid-Friendly

Multi-Use Trail

Potable Water

Views / Vista

16 Comments

jalbert Jun 12, 2017 09:06

Thanks for the trail!
Done two weeks ago, good views and great walk on morning, better than going directly by car...

Leave a Reply to jalbert Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top 5 To-Dos: Griffith Observatory + Universal CityWalk – LAX Lyfting Sep 26, 2016 16:09

[…] of water before you head up the trail. There will always be people to follow up the trail, but take a look at this awesome hiking site to see a map of the trail, just to be well prepared. It’s a pretty easy hike, but be sure to […]

Leave a Reply to Top 5 To-Dos: Griffith Observatory + Universal CityWalk – LAX Lyfting Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Travel- What to do in LA ?! – BROOKE JAIME Sep 21, 2016 19:09

[…] to deal with parking, or just want to get some exercise, you can park your car at the bottom and hike up. Griffith Observatory should be a must for […]

Leave a Reply to Travel- What to do in LA ?! – BROOKE JAIME Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Best of Mira Costa: Best View of L.A. | Mustang Morning News Jun 8, 2016 12:06

[…] Mondays). Admission to the grounds and the building is always free. If you’re interested in a relaxing hike or workout alongside one of the most beautiful views in California, it’s best to hit the Griffith […]

Leave a Reply to Best of Mira Costa: Best View of L.A. | Mustang Morning News Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Runyon is Closed – Where Can I Hike? | Modern Hiker May 7, 2016 20:05

[…] Walk north on Western Ave and head into Griffith Park via Fern Dell. From there, you can head up one of the Observatory Trails or Western Canyon to Mount Hollywood for fantastic views of the Hollywood Sign and the city in […]

Leave a Reply to Runyon is Closed – Where Can I Hike? | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sightseeing In Los Angeles – 2 Perfect Days And A Celebrity Sighting - Scenic States Apr 21, 2016 19:04

[…] is a nice hiking trail that ends at the Griffith Observatory.  If you have enough time and are healthy enough to enjoy a […]

Leave a Reply to Sightseeing In Los Angeles – 2 Perfect Days And A Celebrity Sighting - Scenic States Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

West Observatory Trail | Griffith Park | Hikespeak.com Dec 14, 2015 01:12

[…] West Observatory Trail on mho.dev […]

Leave a Reply to West Observatory Trail | Griffith Park | Hikespeak.com Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

OObserving LA from new heights. | SoCal. adventurer Nov 18, 2015 14:11

[…] programs and events, and even hiking. Being located in Griffith Park, the area is also known for its great hiking trails, many being accessible from the […]

Leave a Reply to OObserving LA from new heights. | SoCal. adventurer Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hike to the Griffith Park Teahouse on Taco Peak | Modern Hiker Jul 30, 2015 11:07

[…] If you’re up for a longer hike, consider starting near Fern Dell and coming up via the West Observatory Trail or Western Canyon or starting near the Greek Theater and taking the East Observatory Trail or the […]

Leave a Reply to Hike to the Griffith Park Teahouse on Taco Peak | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet the 52 Hike Challengers | Modern Hiker Mar 25, 2015 10:03

[…] I was introduced to hiking by my parents, we lived in Los Angeles and would hike up to the Griffith Observatory. Later in life we would hike on family trips, I remember loving the hikes, but I didn’t think I […]

Leave a Reply to Meet the 52 Hike Challengers | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Five Favorites: Los Angeles Hikes - Oh Lovely Day Mar 20, 2015 12:03

[…] 2. Griffith Observatory Hike: This one is my most frequent hike. It’s about a mile up and a mile back (depending on the route you choose) but is pretty much at an uphill grade till you reach the top, making it a really nice workout. And the views at the observatory are your reward. I like to park on Fern Dell across from Trails Cafe. There’s a small playground and a building with restrooms. Just past that, you’ll see two trails (one is called the East Observatory Trail, the other the West Observatory Trail). Both lead to the observatory, taking a slightly different route. The one on the right gives you more shade if it is a hot day. Once you go back down you can treat yourself to a coffee or scone at Trails Cafe. There’s a more detailed description of this hike here. […]

Leave a Reply to Five Favorites: Los Angeles Hikes - Oh Lovely Day Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to Hike to a View of Jupiter’s Moons? | Modern Hiker Jan 22, 2015 14:01

[…] close at sunset, but if you arrange a car-shuttle you can hike up to the observatory via one of these three routes from the Fern Dell area or from Vermont Canyon Avenue (or, if you’re looking for […]

Leave a Reply to Want to Hike to a View of Jupiter’s Moons? | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 Best L.A. Neighborhoods For the Urban Hiker | Modern Hiker Dec 16, 2014 09:12

[…] Park Observatory (West Route, East Route, and Firebreak Trail) (2.3 or 1.2 […]

Leave a Reply to 5 Best L.A. Neighborhoods For the Urban Hiker | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hike Western Canyon | Modern Hiker Nov 25, 2014 15:11

[…] center" } }); If you like to hike up to the Griffith Observatory but are getting tired of the usual approaches and firebreaks, or if you’re just looking for a way to create a longer loop trail to […]

Leave a Reply to Hike Western Canyon | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hike the Firebreak Trail to Griffith Observatory | Modern Hiker Oct 1, 2014 15:10

[…] and time constraints – but this firebreak route is a really fun alternative to the popular West Observatory Trail … or just a fun side trail to tack on to your climb or […]

Leave a Reply to Hike the Firebreak Trail to Griffith Observatory | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hike the East Griffith Observatory Trail | Modern Hiker Oct 1, 2014 15:10

[…] parking lot passing Dante’s View and Glendale Peak, or trek down to the Fern Dell area on the West Observatory or Firebreak Trails. You’re never too far from a trail in Griffith […]

Leave a Reply to Hike the East Griffith Observatory Trail | Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Modern Hiker in your Inbox

 Never miss an important story or new trail again – sign up for our free email newsletter to get all the best content from Modern Hiker delivered straight to your inbox and you’ll always be in the know!