Elysian Park: West loop
- Location: This write-up starts from one of several possible trail heads for the route: the intersection of Stadium Way and Elysian Park Drive, near the Grace Simons Lodge. From the Valley, take I-5 south to Stadium Way (exit 138). Turn left and go 0.7 mile to Elysian Park Drive. Turn right and park wherever available. From Sunset Blvd., head east on Vin Scully Ave. (turn right if you are coming from downtown; left if from Hollywood). Turn left on Stadium Way, go 0.6 mile and turn right onto Academy Rd. Make an immediate left to continue onto Stadium Way. Elysian Park Drive will be on the left in 0.5 mile.
- Agency: City of Los Angeles
- Distance: 2.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 200 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: Year round
- Dogs: Allowed on leash
- Cell phone reception: Good, fair in spots
- Water: Available in restrooms throughout the park
- Restrooms: Near the trail head and other locations throughout the park
- Camping: None
- More information: here; Yelp reviews here; trip descriptions here and here
- Rating: 4
Elysian Park is Los Angeles’s oldest park, founded in 1886. At 600 acres, it’s city’s third largest, behind O’Melveny Park in the Valley (672 acres) and it’s more well known neighbor, Griffith Park. While Elysian doesn’t offer the number and variety of trails found in Griffith, it it shouldn’t be overlooked by L.A. hikers. With panoramic mountain and city views, it’s a convenient fix for those who don’t have time to make it into the San Gabriels. Much of this route through the northwest sector of the park is shaded and there’s not much climbing required, making it a good spot to keep in mind on hot days. The route described below uses the two main trails north of Stadium Way, but it can easily be lengthened or shortened; various unsigned use trails can be included as well.
From the parking area, head north along a wide dirt trail passing under eucalyptus trees. The trail follows Stadium Way and then swings northwest, paralleling Interstate 5. Noise from the freeway is inevitable, but on clear days, great views of the San Gabriels and Verdugo Mountains make up for it. Three quarters of a mile from the beginning, the trail makes a hairpin turn and starts the only appreciable ascent of the loop. You climb up to Marion Harlow Memorial Grove, where you can sit on a bench among the succulents and enjoy views of downtown Los Angeles among a variety of This is the approximate halfway point of the loop.
From the grove, the trail descends gradually, shaded by willows, eucalyptuses and a few oaks. Two trails head back toward Stadium Way if you want to shorten the hike. The main trail continues southwest, providing more views of downtown and Angels Point across the way, then dips into another wooded area before descending to Academy Road (1.8 miles). You can extend the hike with a half mile loop on the south side of Academy Road, although the only real highlight of this area are the views of the Ukranian Orthodox Church.
To return to the starting area, make a hairpin left turn on Elysian Park Drive, paved but closed to vehicles. A pleasant if uneventful 0.6 mile beneath the shade of pines and eucalyptuses brings you back to the parking lot.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
Downtown Los Angeles skyline
Marion Harlow Memorial Grove
Heading south from the grove
Woodlands above Elysian Park Drive
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.