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 destinations deeper in the park’s interior, then much-overlooked Western Canyon may be a nice addition to your Griffith Park experience.
The trail at Western Canyon – listed on some maps as the Hollywood Trail – begins as a broad fire road that seems to extend out of the paved surface of Western Canyon Road at a sharp turn. Directly across from a large parking area just off the road, I was surprised to find very, very few hikers on this route.
This trail is not particular photogenic or jaw-dropping, which may account for its lack of popularity. It begins as a broad fire road with a gentle ascent, climbing through your standard Griffith Park scenery of laurel sumac and dry sycamore trees.
As with most trails in Griffith Park, there are lots of unofficial side and use-trails that will spur off from the path. For the purposes of this easy hike, stay on the main road as it continues its very gradual ascent.
At 0.3 miles, ignore the trails branching out to the left and right and continue straight. At around the 0.6 mile mark, the trail makes a sharp right hand turn and parallels Western Canyon Road for a short distance – you’ll likely see it completely lined by cars fighting for parking spaces for the Observatory.
In another tenth of a mile, the trail turns south and makes a fairly steep incline. At the top of this hill, the trail crosses Western Canyon Road, but before you do be sure to continue south past this crosswalk to reach a small overlook.
From this small perch, you’ll be able to see both a nice view of the Observatory, but also beautiful views of the city and west toward the Pacific Ocean (obviously, nicer on especially clear days).
When you’re done, backtrack a bit and cross the street at the crosswalk – making sure to take some extra time to keep an eye out for cars, as most of them are looking for parking spaces and not pedestrians in their path.
Once you cross the street, you’ll be heading up another short fire road incline that leads directly over the tunnel underpass that Mount Hollywood Road takes underneath the trail. From here, you’ll have some clear (and unique) views of the Hollywood Sign, as well as front-on views of Mount Hollywood.