Golden Glendale

Hike the less traveled Glendale Peak in Griffith Park Los Angeles

It’s no secret Griffith Park has some of the most impressive and accessible hikes in Los Angeles; but that also means heavy foot traffic. If you want to climb a Griffith peak without the peak crowds, head to Glendale Peak in the southeastern end of the massive green space. Receiving many fewer visitors than its mighty summit neighbor, Mount Hollywood, and with views arguably just as good, the 1,190-foot peak can be bagged on a 3-mile out-and-back, netting 600+ feet of gain, and countless epic panoramic vistas.

Park at the Vermont Canyon Tennis Complex and find the trailhead splitting tennis courts and ascending north into the canyon. After a quarter mile, turn right onto the Riverside Trail, which wraps around ridges and over the towering pines of the Roosevelt Golf Course. In spring you’ll find lupines and poppies on the canyon walls (as well as plenty of bright yellow invasive mustard blooms).

Year-round, you’ll get unique views of the Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theater to the west. After about three quarters of a mile there’s a junction where you’ll want to take a sharp left onto the Hogback Trail. But first, cross the road for views of Glendale and the San Gabriels and head right up the street to Vista Viewpoint—an awesome overlook of downtown LA that you may recognize from commercials. As you take a breather here, look for eastside landmarks, like the shimmering Silver Lake reservoir.

On the Hogback Trail, check out dense patches of the purple blooms of Canterbury bells as you ascend and reach your next junction. Here, there’s a picturesque footbridge connecting the ridges, and this trail heads toward towering Mount Hollywood. Instead, take a right on the small spur trail with a charming sign: This is Henry’s Trail, named after a former Sierra Club leader and guide who frequented the summit.

The climb is both a bit technical and totally fun, and the best part is you’re likely to have it all to yourself. Though the apex is 500 feet shorter than Mount Hollywood, the 360-degree views compete with the best in Griffith Park.

The downtown skyline is always impressive, but don’t forget to look toward the San Gabriel Valley and its towering range before heading back the way you came.

To get to the Glendale Peak trailhead at the Vermont Canyon Tennis Complex, take the I-5 to the Los Feliz Blvd. exit and head west. After 1.25 miles, turn right onto Hillhurst Ave. (following signs to the Greek Theater), and stay right to hop onto Vermont Ave. Just past the Roosevelt Golf Course, turn right onto Commonwealth Canyon Dr. The tennis complex and parking lot will be on your left; if it’s full, there is street parking too! Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes

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