- Location: Canyon Drive, Griffith Park. From the 101 Freeway, take the Gower St. exit (8C). Head north (turn left if you are coming from the Valley; right if you are coming from downtown) and make an immediate right onto Franklin Ave. In 0.2 mile, turn left onto Canyon Drive. Follow it 1.4 mile to its end. The parking lot immediately at the trail head is small so you may need to park in a larger lot about 0.1 mile south.
- Agency: Griffith Park
- Distance: 3.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: Year round but hot during the summer
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days; watch out for broken glass on the summit)
- Cell phone reception: Good on summit; none to weak elsewhere on the route
- Water: None
- Restrooms: Chemical toilet at the lower parking lot
- Camping: None
- More information: Trip description including Mt. Hollywood and Mt. Bell here; Griffith Park trail map here
- Rating: 5
Mt. Chapel (elevation 1,614 feet) is one of Griffith Park’s highest summits and the highest spot between Mt. Lee and Mt. Hollywood. Though Mt. Lee is taller, the view from Mt. Chapel is more panoramic, at least on clear days. If visibility is good, you will see every major mountain range in the L.A. area from the Santa Monicas and Santa Susanas to the Santa Anas and San Jacintos.
It’s easy to combine an ascent of Mt. Chapel with other nearby summits such as Lee, Hollywood and Mt. Bell, but the peak also works well as a stand-alone hike as described below, offering a good workout with some impressive views. The hike loses points due to an unfortunate amount of trash and graffiti on the summit but it’s still a good destination for any L.A. peak bagger.
The shortest route to Mt. Chapel – which, with 1,000 feet of elevation gain is still an undertaking – is from the Brush Canyon Trail, which also serves as an access route for Mt. Lee and the Hollywood Sign. From the parking area, head past the metal gate and up Brush Canyon, climbing about 600 feet in just over a mile. Some of the route is under sycamores and oaks but much of it is exposed. As you climb, you’ll get good views of both the Hollywood Sign on Mt. Lee and Chapel’s round summit.
At the top of Brush Canyon is a T-junction with the Mulholland Trail, a wide fire road. Turn right (many people who have shared the route with you so far will probably be heading left toward Mt. Lee) and go 0.3 mile to Mt. Hollywood Drive, a paved road that is closed to traffic other than maintenance vehicles. Head north (left) for 0.2 mile to an unsigned but obvious junction just below the summit. If you reach Vista del Valle you’ve come too far unless you want to make a detour to visit Haunted Table 29.
Follow the trail around the north side of Mt. Chapel, taking in some nice views of the San Fernando Valley, the Verdugo Mountains and the San Gabriels. (If you are feeling adventurous, you can take a steep use trail from the junction right up to the top). On the established trail, you will reach a green water tank 0.2 mile from Mt. Hollywood Drive. A short but steep use trail ascends from the back side of the tank, bringing you to the summit.
Here you can enjoy a 360-degree vista only partially blocked by Mt. Lee to the west. The peak’s prominence gives you a particularly good perspective on Forest Lawn, nearly 1,000 feet below, and other Griffith Park sites including Royce’s Canyon and the observatory.
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.