- Location: End of Cadman Drive, Griffith Park. From Interstate 5, take the Los Feliz exit (141 if you are coming from the north or 141A if you are coming from the south). Head southwest on Los Feliz Blvd (turn right if you are coming from the north; left if from the south). Take a right on Lambeth St., the first street after crossing Crystal Springs. (Note that the “No access to Griffith Park” sign only applies to through traffic). Bear left onto Griffith Park Drive and make a quick right onto Cadman Drive, a narrow residential street. Park where available, noting posted restrictions (parking is only allowed on the west side of the street, so you will have to turn around before you can park). The trail begins at the end of Cadman Drive.
- Agency: Griffith Park
- Distance: 2.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 650 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: Year round (Hot during the summer)
- Dogs: Allowed on leash but not recommended due to the steep, uneven and exposed terrain
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in some spots
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: AllTrails report for Beacon Hill including the steep use trail here; description of Cedar Grove as a stand-alone hike from an alternate trail head here; Griffith Park trail map here
- Rating: 5
Updated May 2018
This is one of the more adventurous short hikes in Griffith Park, using two steep, unofficial (but easy to find and follow) use trails. The destinations of this loop, Beacon Hill and Cedar Grove, are both popular spots within the park, but by taking these relatively lightly traveled routes, you’ll have less company than you would on a typical hike to Mt. Hollywood or Mt. Lee.
From the end of Cadman Drive, enter the park and follow the trail a short distance to a junction. This post describes a counter-clockwise trip through the loop, ideal for hikers who don’t want to chance descending the steep trail down Beacon Hill’s south side. Head right to stay on the Cadman Trail, which climbs out of the oak-shaded canyon to a junction with the Coolidge Trail (0.2 mile). For the next half mile, you will be sharing the route with the Beacon Hill loop described here. Head right at the junction and then left at another junction 0.2 mile later. You begin a gradual climb to a saddle, 0.7 mile from the start. Now the work begins.
Look for a use trail heading straight up Beacon Hill’s south ridge. The trail climbs gradually at first but then ascends sharply, climbing almost 400 feet in about 1/3 of a mile. Be careful of a few water pipes (especially hazardous for hikers descending this way). At the top of Beacon Hill, your efforts are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Verdugo Mountains, the San Gabriels, Mt. Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, at least if the air is clear.
Continue downhill on the main Beacon Hill trail for 0.2 mile to a junction called Five Points. Take the Upper Beacon Trail (the second to the left of the four routes in front of you) which climbs 100 feet in 0.2 mile to meet Vista Del Valle Drive, a paved (but closed to public traffic) road. Bear left and head downhill for a not very interesting but easy 0.6 mile stretch.
At 1.9 miles from the start, you reach the entrance to Cedar Grove, an attractive, shaded picnic area with views of downtown L.A. On the southeastern corner of the site, look for an unsigned use trail which heads east and downhill, skirting the southern edge of the park boundary and passing by some homes. The trail drops sharply, losing about 350 feet in 0.3 mile. At the bottom, turn right on another short use trail which crosses a wash and joins a wider road. Head left and follow the road back to the Cadman Trail and then retrace your steps back to the street. Note that if you miss the first turnoff at the bottom of the use trail and continue, you will soon hook up with the Cadman Trail either way; if this happens, simply turn right and head back downhill to the starting point.
Text and photography copyright 2018 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.