Trebek Open Space (Bantam Trail)

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San Gabriel Mountains and Griffith Observatory from the Trebek Open Space
San Gabriel Mountains and Griffith Observatory from the Trebek Open Space
Santa Monica from the Trebek Open Space
Santa Monica from the Trebek Open Space

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.

Trebek Open Space

  • Location: Hollywood Hills.  From the 101 freeway, take the Highland Ave. exit.  Turn right on Odin, go 0.2 miles and turn left on Highland.  Go 0.6 miles and turn right on Hollywood Blvd.  Go 1.1 miles and turn right on Nichols Canyon Road.  Go 1.1 miles and take a sharp right to stay on Nichols Canyon Road, and in 0.2 miles look for a dirt turnout on the right.  The trail begins beyond the black metal gate.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: Year round
  • USGS topo map: Hollywood
  • Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 6

The Trebek Open Space (or perhaps, in “Jeapordy!” style, I should say, “What is, the Trebek Open Space?”–the parkland was, in case you were wondering, donated by game show host Alex Trebek) is not quite as well known as nearby Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park, and as such, provides a surprising amount of solitude.  On a clear day, the views are great.  The park’s unique position makes for some interesting visual juxtapositions if you are looking from the right angle.  For example, you can see downtown L.A. silhouetted against Santiago Peak, and the Griffith Observatory with Mt. Baldy and Cucamonga Peak in the background.  I was fortunate to not only see Catalina Island but even tiny, remote Santa Barbara Island from this vantage point.

From the parking area, head through the gate and uphill on the Bantam Trail, an unsigned fire road listed on Mapquest as “Astral Drive.”  You get a nice view of Nichols Canyon, which soon open up to include L.A., Hollywood, Santa Monica, Long Beach and the Palos Verdes Penisula.

At about half a mile in, you come to a hairpin turn, while the Bantam Trail continues straight ahead.  Take the sharp left and climb a short spur to a private, paved section of Astral Drive.  Here, you can take in some nice views of the Valley before heading back down.

At the junction, you can continue on the Bantam Trail for a short distance to a clearing where the San Gabriel Mountains are visible.  If you are lucky, you might also spot San Gorgonio and San Jacinto.  Not too bad for being less than three miles as the crow flies from the Hollywood Bowl and the Viper Room.

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