Elysian Park: Portola Trail from Park Row to Stadium Way

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Wildflowers in Elysian Park
On the Portola trail in Elysian Park

Elysian Park: Portola Trail from Park Row to Stadium Way

  • Location: Corner of Park Row Drive and Grand View Drive in downtown L.A.  From the south, take I-5 to the Broadway exit.  Turn left, go 0.4 miles and turn right on Casanova St.  Make another quick right on Park Row Drive and go 0.3 miles.  Park on the street just above the intersection with Grand View Drive.  From the Valley, take I-5 to Broadway (follow the signs for the 110 freeway).  Turn right on Pasadena Ave, go 0.3 miles and turn right on Broadway.  Go 0.3 miles and turn right on Casanova St and take a right on Park Row.
  • Agency:  City of Los Angeles
  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: Year round
  • USGS topo map:  Los Angeles
  • More information:  here; YELP reviews here; trail guide here
  • Rating: 2
Elysian Park might not be as well known as its larger neighbor to the north, Griffith Park, but at 575 acres, it’s no small village green.  It’s perhaps best known for its views of Dodger Stadium, but also has quite a few hiking trails.  Because the park is overshadowed by Griffith, you’re likely to have less company on the trails here.The park has a reputation for poor signage and a lack of good maps, but the route described here is pretty easy to follow. From the corner of Park Row Drive and Grand View, head uphill and bare right on a fire road. The first stretch of the route is surprisingly peaceful. The trees block out most of the sights and sounds of the city. At 0.4 miles, you reach Grand View Drive. For hikers short on time, this is a good turn around point.

To continue, carefully cross Grand View (cars coming from both sides don’t have good visibility), and continue along the trail. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of graffiti and trash in this area. The trail runs parallel to Interstate 5, so obviously peace and quiet are not in the cards, but some hikers might enjoy the great aerial view of the freeway, and there are also nice views of the San Gabriel and Verdugo Mountains.

Soon, you come to a split where the trail heads sharply downhill; the only tricky section of the hike. Poles may come in handy; small kids will probably need a hand here. The trail dips into a wooded area and climbs quickly to join a fire road. The last section of the trip heads away from the freeway, so it’s much quieter, although there’s still some traffic from Stadium Way. Soon, you reach the turnaround point, the intersection with the paved Angels Point Road. There are more trails across Stadium Way in the Grace Simmons section of the park, but since there’s no crosswalks, it’s best to drive there if you want to explore them.

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.  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.

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