A convenient, dog-friendly hike in the northwest side of Elysian Park, near the heart of Los Angeles itself. This short route offers some decent portions of elevation gain, good shade, and great views of the valley and downtown Los Angeles when the air is clear – all in a park seldom-used by L.A. hikers outside of the neighborhood. Great for a quick pre-work trek or for when you just don’t feel like driving a long time to get to the trailhead.
Elysian Park is the oldest and second largest park in the city of Los Angeles, but I hadn’t really spent much time in the park until mid last year. Well known amongst nearby residents, the park does offer some picturesque and relatively easy hiking trails, is very dog-friendly, and is centrally located – so I wanted to try to highlight some of the park’s better trail options for urban hikers or those who just might want to squeeze in a quick trail before work.
This route circles some of the nicer hiking areas of the park’s northwest corner, beginning near the entrance to the Grace E. Simons Lodge. Park on the north side of Elysian Park Drive or walk to the corner of that road and Stadium Way from the parking lot on Chavez Ravine Road, and look on the north side of the road for a beaten footpath and gate. This is your trailhead.
At the 0.4 mile mark, you’ll come into sight of the Golden State Freeway – and yes, I know that sounds like something you’d never, ever want to see when you’re hiking – but if you’re lucky you’ll be able to look past the freeway to the L.A. River and San Gabriel Mountains beyond (assuming you’re hiking on a clear day).
Just past this switchback at the 0.9 mile mark, there is a very short use-trail leading to Vista Gordo Drive. Ignore this spur and stay on the trail, continuing on the steepest part of the route (which still really isn’t all that steep, so don’t worry).
More killer views await you just down the footpath – at about the 1.2 mile mark the trail takes a very slight descent and comes to closely parallel Park Drive. Here, through some occasional breaks in the tree-line, you’ll be able to make out some really epic views of downtown Los Angeles surrounded by the greenery of Elysian Park. It’s not a view most people think of when they think of Los Angeles, and under the right conditions can be really quite breathtaking.
For the next half mile, ignore all of the side-trails and stay on the main path as you hike with partial shade to an intersection with Academy Road.
At this road, take a hard left turn and continue onto gated Elysian Park Drive. This paved (and deteriorating) road will take you back past the Simons Lodge and to your car.
Good - while the trails themselves are very well maintained, Elysian Park trail signage is notoriously spotty.
Trailhead is at the western corner of Elysian Park Drive and Stadium Way. Parking is on the west side of Stadium Way or a bit farther down Chavez Ravine Road. Transit accessible with a bit of walking. Be forewarned that many of the roads shown on Google Maps in this area are closed to automobile traffic. And you probably won't want to try driving here during a Dodgers game.
With recent wildfire damage and ongoing waves of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, National Forest, National Park, and other public land closures, restrictions, or social distancing guidelines may be in-effect.
If infection rates are on the rise, please do your best to remain local for your hikes. If you do travel, please be mindful of small gateway communities and avoid as much interaction as you can. Also remember to be extra prepared with supplies so you don't have to stop somewhere outside your local community for gas, food, or anything else.
Please be sure to contact the local land management agency BEFORE you head out, as these conditions are likely to change without enough notice for us to fully stay on top of them. Thanks, and stay safe!
Click here to read the current CDC guidelines for traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.