Glendale Peak – Mount Hollywood Loop
in Griffith Park
It is often said that two is better than one. Take a hike on Glendale Peak – Mount Hollywood Loop and you’ll agree – two summits are better than one! Think of this Griffith Park hike like a meal with an appetizer and a main course. Glendale Peak is the appetizer, rising to 1,190 feet with tastier-than-expected views over southeast end of the park toward downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains. A steep ridge trail (the palette censer) brings you to the feast for the eyes at the 1,625-foot summit of Mount Hollywood. The summit has views in every direction, including salivating sights of the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory. Glendale Peak – Mount Hollywood Loop is 4.15 miles round trip with 765 feet of elevation change.
This circuit begins and ends along Vermont Canyon Road in view of the Greek Theater. Turn-by-turn directions for the entire loop are listed below.
Hike east up Riverside Trail, which rises to a perch overlooking the Green Theater, cradled below Griffith Observatory. Curving to the left, the wide dirt trail takes a gradual course along the side of a ridge, sagging across a canyon to a junction with a trail up from Vermont Canyon Tennis Complex (a useful trailhead for those taking an out and back hike to Glendale Peak), A bench at this junction, half a mile from the start of the hike, is placed below a little shade.
Continue east on Riverside Trail for another 0.75 miles. Riverside Trail wraps around ridges, with views west toward Griffith Observatory. The trail goes downhill and for a moment gets close to Commonwealth Canyon Drive, returning to the same elevation you started from. At this point an unmarked trail on the left goes up Aberdeen Canyon and can be used to reach Glendale Peak and trim this loop a bit. The top of Aberdeen Trail is steep, loose, and unmaintained, so it is best to stick with Riverside Trail.
Riverside Trail stops oscillating and begins a more determined ascent of the ridge below Glendale Peak. As you gain elevation, you’ll gather great perspectives south toward the skyline of downtown Los Angeles.
At 1.25 miles from the start of the hike, Riverside Trail meets Vista Del Valle Drive, a paved trail through Griffith Park. An overlook often used as a filming location, called Vista View Point, is a short distance up the road to the right. To continue toward Glendale Peak, make a sharp left turn at the top of Riverside Trail onto East Ridge Trail (also known as Hogback Trail), before you actually meet the paved road. The junction is marked with a sign next to Pumphouse 114 (a green shed) for Hogback Trail and another sign that reads “Bridle Trail.” From this junction it is a 1.25-mile hike to Mount Hollywood, but we’ll add a short spur to Glendale Peak to that ascent.
Hike up East Ridge Trail, leaving Vista Del Valle Drive below the south side of Glendale Peak. The trail wraps around the west side of the small summit to approach Glendale Peak from the north. Look down across Aberdeen Canyon as you hike up East Ridge Trail and gaze north toward Mount Hollywood, the central peak in Griffith Park. After a quarter mile, East Ridge Trail approaches a short bridge spanning a dip in the ridgeline. Just before the bridge, Henry’s Trail to Glendale Peak parts to the right. A panel marks the junction, memorializing Henry Shamma, a former local leader for the Sierra Club who frequently guided hikers to the summit.
Turn right to venture up to the summit. The dirt single track launches into a short steep ascent to climb above East Ridge Trail. After that, hike south along the ridge to the crest of Glendale Peak, 1,65 miles from the start of the hike.
While not the most dominant summit in Griffith Park, Glendale Peak punches above its weight, delivering broad views from a vantage at the southeast end of the Santa Monica Mountains. Look south over Los Feliz toward downtown Los Angeles and pivot to your left to look east across the San Gabriel Valley, which is bordered to the north by the San Gabriel Mountains.
After gathering some inspiration from your first summit, return to East Ridge Trail. Turn right, cross the bridge, and set out for the next mountaintop. You’ll gain nearly 500 feet over the next mile to reach the high point of Mount Hollywood, including some thigh-busting pitches on the ridge ahead.
East Ridge Trail goes northeast up the ridgeline from Glendale Peak to Mount Hollywood. Climb over numerous bumps on the ridge, getting a workout as you climb higher into Griffith Park. East Ridge Trail has fine views over the east side of Griffith Park. Look down on Bee Rock, the abandoned zoo, and the golf course. You can look beyond that across Glendale toward the San Gabriel Mountains.
Respite comes 0.3 miles below the summit when East Ridge Trail tapers off and passes Dante’s View, an irrigated garden on the slopes of Mount Hollywood. Dante’s View and has benches and picnic tables surrounded by a variety of trees and plants. Take a break here if you like, enjoying views of downtown Los Angeles. At Dante’s View, East Ridge Trail meets Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail at Dante’s View. Stay to the right to continue up to the summit (or turn left if you’ve had enough climbing).
Continue a short distance up to a junction at the top of East Ridge Trail. Straight ahead, 3 Mile Trail descends to Mount Hollywood Drive. To the right, another wide trail ventures north toward Mount Bell. Turn left to make the final push to the top of Mount Hollywood. As you pass a picnic area on the left above Dante’s View, the trail curves to the right and splits. The summit is near and both routes will get you there. It’s a little simpler to stay to the left though.
Pass hitching posts and walk into a viewing area on the summit of Mount Hollywood, 2.8 miles from the start of the loop. Look down the ridge to the south over Griffith Observatory toward the city of Los Angeles. On a clear day, you’ll see the coast to the west, along with multiple rows of ridges in the Santa Monica Mountains. Some big white letters on Mount Lee are legible to the west (and seem to spell Hollywood).
The Verdugo Mountains are to the north, followed by the San Gabriel Mountains, which rise even higher. Can you spot the observatory domes on Mount Wilson to the northeast? Mount Hollywood has a fine 360-degree panorama over the Southland and it’s easy to see why so many people hike here.
If you’re in a rush, you could head straight down the south side of Mount Hollywood on a super-steep use trail. This will trim 0.2 miles from the loop.
Otherwise, leave the summit and walk north. Bear left at the split where Mount Hollywood Trail merged near the summit. Just past that, you will hit another junction. Make a sharp left turn to begin descending around the west side of the mountain. At the top of this trail, you’ll be facing west over Mount Hollywood Drive toward the Hollywood Sign. Stay to the left past a spur out to a holding tank and continue around the mountain. As the trail curves to the southwest side of the summit, you’ll pass a picturesque little vista point with benches spread out near a cluster of palm trees. This trail probably offers the loop’s best views of the Hollywood Sign.
Proceed down Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail to a multi-point junction, 0.35 miles below the summit. Cross the wide trail and take the narrower track hugging the west side of the ridge to the south. Hike down through chaparral, descending toward Griffith Observatory.
Come to another junction that is very important for this loop. Those hiking down to Griffith Observatory use the trail to the right. Turn left to descend toward Vermont Canyon Road and complete the loop.
The single track goes east descending to the back of a canyon above Vermont Canyon Road. After a third of a mile, pass alongside a fence surrounding the bird sanctuary in the canyon below. Proceed down the trail to a horseshoe bend on Vermont Canyon Road. Turn left, passing a bathroom, to find a dirt trail down the east side of the road. Walk 0.2 miles on this path along the road to return to the trailhead at the start of Riverside Trail, completing this hike.
The basic directions or this loop are:
- Hike east from Vermont Canyon Road on Riverside Trail (0 miles)
- Reach the end of the trail and turn left on East Ridge Trail (1.25 miles)
- Turn right on Henry’s Trail, just before the bridge (1.5 miles)
- Summit Glendale Peak (1.65 miles)
- Return to East Ridge Trail and turn right (1.8 miles)
- Hike up the ridge to Dante’s View (2.5 miles)
- Pass Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail, continue up to a junction with 3 Mile Trail and Mount Hollywood, and turn left (2.6 miles)
- Take Mount Hollywood Trail to the summit of Mount Hollywood (2.8 miles)
- Leave the summit and head north, staying to the left (2.85 miles)
- Turn left down Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail on the west side of the peak (2.95 miles)
- Stay left past a spur to a holding tank (3.05 miles)
- Cross a multi-point junction and descend the narrower trail on the west side of the ridge (3.3 miles)
- Turn left at a split to descend toward the Bird Sanctuary and Vermont Canyon Road (3.47 miles)
- Reach Vermont Canyon Road and take the dirt trail down its left side (3.95 miles)
- Return to the trailhead at the start of Riverside Trail (4.15 miles)
In addition to the loop above other routes are available to both Glendale Peak and Mount Hollywood. No permit is required for this hike and Griffith Park has free entry and parking (just avoid visiting when shows are happening at the Greek). Bikes are not allowed on these dirt trails in Griffith Park, but you can bring dogs, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: From Interstate 5, take exit 141 for Los Feliz Boulevard. Go west on Los Feliz Boulevard for 1.4 miles and turn right up Vermont Avenue. Drive one mile up this road and park by the start of Riverside Trail, which is on the right.
Trailhead address: North Vermont Canyon Road, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Trailhead coordinates: 34.12184, -118.29679 (34° 07′ 18.62″N 118° 17′ 48.44″W)
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[…] More details at Hike Speak. This hike wins as part of my favorite hikes. I love the view of the Griffith Observatory and downtown Los Angeles.[…]