Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- Location: Griffith Park. From Los Angeles, take the 101 freeway to Gower Street (exit 8C), take the Beachwood Drive ramp, stay straight and go right on Franklin. After half a mile, take a left on Canyon Drive, follow it to the end and park. From the Valley, take the Vine exit off highway 101 and keep left at the fork to get to Franklin.
- Agency: Griffith Park
- Distance: 0.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 50 feet
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: “Burbank”
- Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
- More information: here; trip report with photos here
- Rating: 4
The Bronson Caves of Griffith Park is probably best known as the Batcave and has also been used in dozens of movies, including the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Scorpion King” and more. Fans of the Doors may recognize the caves from the famous photo of Jim Morrison and his wife Pam that was taken here. The caves can be reached by a short hike, which is a good way for novice hikers to get out into nature and experience L.A.’s wild side. It’s also a pleasant surprise for veteran hikers, showcasing the type of geology that one usually has to drive far outside the city to see. Much of the geological scenery is man made (the “caves” are really a tunnel that used to be a quarry), but like Black Star Canyon’s waterfall, this is an example of how the human presence can sometimes make scenery more interesting.
From the parking area, head uphill on a fire road heading southeast. The trail rounds a bend and reaches a junction. Head left, and you’ll see the first entrance to the cave. You can access the other side by continuing along the fire road. The cave may make some people nervous, but once you get inside, there’s plenty of room, and light from several smaller openings make it easy to see where you’re going.
If the weather is hot and your time is short, just going to the cave and back can be a good destination, but if you’re up for a challenge, try climbing to the Hollywood Sign via the Brush Canyon trail. In case you were wondering, Bronson Caves are named after the nearby Bronson St., which also inspired the screen name of Charles Bronson.