Suicide Trail (Griffith Park)
- Location: Travel Town, Griffith Park. From the 134 Freeway, take the Forest Lawn exit (4) and head south. Make an immediate left onto Zoo Drive and follow it to the Travel Town parking lot. Alternately from the 101 Freeway, take the Barham Blvd. exit (11A or 11B). Head north for 1.1 miles on Barham Blvd. Turn right on Forest Lawn Drive and go 2 miles to Zoo Drive. Turn right and follow Zoo Drive to the Travel Town parking lot.
- Agency: Griffith Park
- Distance: 1.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: Year round but hot during the summer
- Recommended gear: Long sleeves and pants; hiking poles
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days)
- Cell phone reception: Good; weak to fair in some spots
- Water: Restrooms at Travel Town
- Restrooms: Travel Town
- Camping: None
- More information: Description of the “North Side Loop” (Oak Canyon/Suicide Trail is the first leg) here; trail maps here and here
- Rating: 4
This short but surprisingly adventurous hike is a good one to keep in mind if you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to Griffith Park. The steep Suicide Trail makes for a quick and convenient workout that is short and has enough shade that it can be done even on hot days and for hikers who want a longer trip, there are plenty of ways to extend it.
Unfortunately reaching the Suicide Trail requires 0.3 miles on the less interesting Oak Canyon Trail, which runs parallel to Griffith Park Drive and not surprisingly takes in traffic noise. To find the Oak Canyon Trail, leave the Travel Town parking lot and follow Griffith Park Drive uphill about 200 feet. Opposite the bottom end of the Skyline Trail, look for a spur on the right, marked only by a sign indicating no bicycles/dogs must be on leash. Turn left on the wide and sandy Oak Canyon Trail, popular with equestrians and head south for 0.3 mile to a Y-fork. Bear right on an umarked but obvious trail that heads into an attractive grove of oaks. The Suicide Trail begins at the back of the grove, next to the fence that marks the Forest Lawn boundary.
The bottom of the Suicide Trail is level and may make you wonder how the route got its name. However, the trail soon gets down to business, making a steep and often loose ascent, at times through overgrown bushes and around fallen tree trunks, climbing about 300 feet in 0.3 mile. The good news is that the views of the San Fernando Valley, the Verudgo Mountains and the San Gabriels get better and better as you climb; you are also likely to have far less company on this trail than on other, better-known routes. Though freeway noise can still be heard, the Suicide Trail is pleasantly quiet, especially for Griffith Park.
At the top of the climb is Mt. Hollywood Drive, the paved route that is closed to cars (except maintenance vehicles). A rock beneath a pine tree makes for a good place to sit and enjoy the views to the north. A little ways south on Mt. Hollywood Drive is an overlook with a commanding view of Mt. Chapel. From here, retrace your steps or extend the hike in either direction on Mt. Hollywood Drive or on the Toyon Trail, across the way.
Text and photography copyright 2017 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.