We followed the trail up into the hills, where it zig-zagged higher, and higher, and higher, and every time we turned around, the views of sprawling Los Angeles below us became more and more impressive. We started to get out of breath, but our friend (who's hiked the trail before) assured us it wasn't much farther to the top. He was right.
In just a few more minutes, we'd reached Griffith Observatory, a round, ivory fortress that sits at the top of the hill overlooking all of Hollywood. A wide plaza stretches out in front of the building, but if you go around the back, like we did, you can enjoy near 360º views from the Observatory's viewing deck. Once we caught our breath and gazed around us, we saw the sun casting its golden rays over all of Hollywood. We realized then that the early wake-up, the brisk hike up the mountain, the shame of being overtaken multiple times by small groups of nimble elderly women—it was all worth it just for these views.
We lingered for a while at the top, before happily scampering back down the trail and back out the way we came. The entire hike lasted no more than 1.5 hours, and since the incline is gradual (it feels steeper than it really is), the hike is suitable for pretty much anyone.
At the bottom, near the entrance to Ferndell Nature Center, is a small snack bar called Trails, where you can reward your hiking efforts with a steaming cup of coffee, or a scone. Though the window was closed when we were there (opening hours are 8am-5pm), our friend literally swears by their Avocado Sandwich, so we'll happily pass on his recommendation.
But if it comes down to choosing between lunch at Trails, or showing up early enough to watch the sun rise from Griffith Observatory, make the early morning trek. You'll wind up thanking us later, we promise.
[Photo: ASchechter for Jaunted]