South Side Loop and Glendale Peak (Griffith Park)
This enjoyable hike is like a shorter version of the longer and more challenging East Side Loop. It takes in a lot of Griffith Park’s most famous sites, including the observatory, the Hollywood Sign and Bee Rock, and also visits Glendale Peak. Like the East Side Loop, on clear days, you can see the ocean, the Santa Ana Mountains, downtown L.A., the San Gabriels, and even the distant San Jacinto and San Bernardino ranges.
From just north of the Greek Theater, head uphill on a single-track trail that passes by the currently closed Bird Sanctuary. You head uphill through a canyon, soon making a sharp hairpin turn. The trail hugs the side of a ridge, providing great views of the L.A. skyline as it climbs.
After half a mile, you reach a junction, where you’ll continue uphill by heading right. Now on the west side of the ridge, you can see the Hollywood Sign on Mt. Lee, as well as Mt. Hollywood straight ahead. At the next junction, stay straight and continue north on a wide fire road that cuts around the southeast flank of Mt. Hollywood. You pass by Dante’s View, where you can sit on benches beneath shade trees and look out over L.A.
A mile from the start, you join the dramatic Hogsback Trail. Head right and follow its rugged course up and down several steep inclines. On this stretch, which is shared with the East Side Loop, you get great views of the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains.
After 0.6 miles, the trail crosses a footbridge. A sign indicates Henry’s Trail, off to the left, which goes to Glendale Peak. The beginning is steep (the stairs can be tricky both on the ascent and descent, so be careful) but then the trail levels out, following a ridge to the 1,184 summit. From this vantage point, you get a nice panorama, including a nearly aerial view of the golf course, several hundred feet below.
After retracing your steps, continue southeast along the Hogsback Trail, now a smooth fire road. When it reaches the paved service road (2.1 miles from the start), take a hairpin turn onto the Riverside Trail. This fire road descends moderately, providing nice views of Mt. Hollywood and the observatory. You make a slight ascent of about 100 feet, pass over the tennis courts, go through a four-way junction and finally begin your descent to Vermont Canyon Road. When you get there, turn right and head briefly uphill to return to your car.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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.