Distance (round-trip)

2.1 mi

Time

1 hrs

Elevation Gain

571 ft

Season

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Weather

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.

Western Canyon 1

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.

Western Canyon 11

Western Canyon 12

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).

Western Canyon 13

Western Canyon 14

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.

Western Canyon 19

Western Canyon 18

From here, it’s just a very short side trip to nearby Berlin Forest or a fun, tougher incline up to the peak of Mount Hollywood itself.

When you’re done, head back the way you came or consider returning via the West Griffith Observatory or Observatory Firebreak Trails for some different scenery!

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





Dog-Friendly

Kid-Friendly

Multi-Use Trail

Potable Water

Trail Map

7 Comments

Rachael

Rachael Jun 4, 2017 10:06

Just got back from a hike here! Sunday morning, arrived at about 8:35, plenty of parking in the lot, even when we got back down around 9:45. A fair number of people about but not crowded. Really nice trail, perfectly easy to follow, and there were a couple of good spots to stop off where we could take a breather and enjoy the views and the breeze. I'd say that the moderate rating is pretty accurate; it was more than a stroll and I feel like I've done a bit of work today, but nothing crazy!

Love this site, thanks for being such an excellent resource!

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Casey Schreiner Oct 1, 2015 16:10In reply to: Liz

All distances and times are round trip unless otherwise noted.

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Liz Oct 1, 2015 12:10

This may be a super newbie question, but is the distance reported round trip or one way?

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Casey Schreiner Jan 26, 2015 12:01In reply to: Carol

Oh wow. Looks like I had too many searches going on at the same time while I was formatting this. The link should be fixed now.

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Carol Jan 26, 2015 12:01

Why does the detailed driving directions link take you to a google search of 1980's california license plates?

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Casey Schreiner Nov 25, 2014 15:11In reply to: Skyhiker

You're right! I didn't think about hiking this one "in reverse" but that weekend shuttle would definitely work.

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Skyhiker Nov 25, 2014 15:11

As another public transit option, there's a weekend LA DASH shuttle that connects the Sunset and Vermont Red Line station with the Greek Theater and Griffith Observatory. They're experimenting with running the shuttle on "holidays," as well; this weekend, it will run on 11/26, 11/28, 11/29 and 11/30. The Observatory is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Mondays.

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