Advertisements

Los Angeles Trail #1: Griffith Park Trail #1 (“Merry-Go-Round” To Dante’s View/Peak & Back)

24 08 2015

Griffith Park is the Pride and Most Popular Outdoor Park of Los Angeles City. It is one of the world’s biggest city parks with a total area of 4,467 acres, about five times bigger than the size of the New York’s City Central Park, and considered as the biggest municipal park completely surrounded by urban areas.

There are so many access roads/streets that lead to the park depending on your purpose of visit or activity. There is Greek Theater which is a popular venue for music concerts and stage plays; an 18-hole Golf Course & Driving Range; a Museum; The Griffith Observatory; The HOLLYWOOD Sign; a Horse Back Riding Facility; Carousel/”Merry-Go-Round”; Old Train & Railroad Museum; more than 50 miles of Fire Roads & Trails; and 20+ miles of paved roads for cycling. Griffith Park is the city’s “People’s Park” where its residents would enjoy the outdoor and its trails for free. The Fire Roads and Trails are strictly for hiking; running; and horse-back riding as MTBs or mountain trail cycling is not allowed.

The “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1 to Dante’s View/Peak Trail Route is my favorite trail running route which has a “one-way” distance of 4.5 miles, making it a total of 9 miles in going back to the Parking Lot retracing the route on the first half.

In order to go to Griffith Park and to experience running or hiking this trail route, one has to take the Golden State Freeway 5 North and Exit at Crystal Spring Drive (Exit 141B), turn Right at Crystal Spring Drive and after 1/4 mile turn left on the first intersection. The ascending paved road goes to the “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1. The toilet is located near the Merry-Go-Round facility.

“Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1

I usually start from the place where I park my car. Across the paved road from the Parking Lot #1 are two fire roads; one that goes south and the other that goes east. I usually take the fire road that goes to the east (it’s called the Coolidge Trail) that has an abrupt ascent until it levels up for about 15 yards. Follow this fire road as it goes up immediately after a right turn. From this trail you would see on your left shoulder the Crystal Spring Road and the Golden State Freeway 5 and this will be the sight on your first mile with the uphill and winding trail ahead of you. The 2nd mile will be a gradual uphill climb where one will be passing a Golf Driving Range on your left. Do not turn left on the fire trail that goes back to Crystal Spring Road. One should be turning RIGHT on every trail intersection along this 2nd mile section. There is only way but UP to the peak of the hill.

Trailhead. Take the Trail On The Left (Coolidge Trail)

Trailhead. Take the Trail On The Left (Coolidge Trail)

Golf Academy's Driving Range

Golf Academy’s Driving Range

5-Way Trail Intersection

5-Way Trail Intersection

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill

At the 2.5-mile point, the route shall level off and one will encounter a 5-way trail intersection. I usually turn right from this point and go to a peak which is popularly known before as Beacon Hill. As I reached the peak, I would turn around and back to the 5-way intersection. I would continue my run by going to the fire road that goes up and there is only one fire road that leads you to a ascending direction. After about 50-60 meters of uphill climb, you will see a marker that says, “Joe Klass Water Stop”. The water fountain is located on a clearing on your right. Don’t pay attention to the bees that “guard” the said fountain, they are always there the whole year round. If you need to drink, just drink or refill your bottles and then immediately leave the place. Don’t mess up with those bees!

Signage Of The Joe Klass Water Source

Signage Of The Joe Klass Water Stop

The Water Fountain (Bees Are Not Visible In The Picture)

The Water Fountain (Bees Are Not Visible In The Picture)

Vista Del Valle Drive

Vista Del Valle Drive

Once you get out from the water fountain clearing, you will hit a paved road (it’s called Vista Del Valle Drive). After about 50 meters running on this paved road, you have covered already 3 miles! Follow this road and on your left is a paved flat area which is a popular site for photo-ops overlooking the city and sometimes, it is being used as a helipad or location for movie shootings. As you passed this flat paved area, you can see ahead of you two fire roads on your left: one that goes down and one that goes up. Go to the fire road that goes up! This fire road splits from Vista Del Valle Drive and it has a closed wooden hut beside the start of the trail.

Griffith Park Helipad Area

Griffith Park Helipad Area

Uphill Trail Beside The Hut

Uphill Trail Beside The Hut (Left Side Of The Hut)

After two or three turns, you will see a wooden bridge and a higher hill where the fire road is leading to. You are now approaching the dreaded Hogback Trail. This trail is too steep on some sections and make sure that you have a good traction on your trail running shoes. Before the last climb of this trail, you must have covered 4 miles. I always have the urge to drink a lot of water from my hydration bottle before the last climb. Once you finish the last climb on the Hogback Trail, there is a water source (a water fountain and a faucet) and you can make your water refill here.

Wooden Bridge & Hogback Trail

Wooden Bridge & Hogback Trail

From the water source, follow the fire road as it continuously go on a higher elevation (don’t turn left on the trail that goes down after the faucet/water source). In about 30 meters from the faucet, there is a three-way intersection, turn left on the fire road and in about 100 meters, you can now see some concrete tables and benches inside a corral on the Dante’s View/Peak and the Hollywood Sign can be seen on your right. The Dante’s View/Peak is usually the resting place of those who hike and jog. One could see the City, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign and the trails/fire roads that snake within the perimeter of the park. But for me, I just get inside the corral and touch the biggest rock where the Survey Marker is located and immediately turn-around. The distance covered is 4.5 miles at this point!

Dante's View/Peak

Dante’s View/Peak

From the turn-around, I retrace my route as I go back to where I started, to include going to the peak of the Beacon Hill. One has to be very careful in going down along the Hogback Trail as there is great possibility that one makes a mistake of slipping from the trail which is purely a rock.

My Fastest Time to complete this trail running route is 2 hours. It has a total ascent of 1,857 feet and total descent of 1,837 feet. Dante’s Peak/View has an elevation of 1,608 feet above sea level. Allocate at least 3 hours for an average hiking with picture/hydration stops for this route.

A Runner’s Circle (ARC) Specialty Store is only 1 Mile away from the “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot. From the Parking Lot, turn right to Crystal Spring Road towards the Los Feliz Avenue Entrance to Griffith Park. Turn Left on Los Feliz Avenue and immediately after crossing the bridge, the ARC Store will be on your Right.

More trail routes to come within Griffith Park and other parts in the Los Angeles Area and its Suburbs in my future posts.

Advertisements




Dante’s Peak @ Griffith Park

11 06 2009

This is not about the movie which was released in 19997 about the eruption of a volcano in Dante’s Peak, a small town somewhere in the USA. The movie was played by a pair of popular stars in Hollywood—Pierce Brosnan (the former James Bond actor) and Linda Hamilton (Sarah, the lady character in the Terminator movies).

For the past days, I’be been planning to run to the highest peak of Mt Hollywood at Griffith Park, starting from the house as part of my running workout. Finally, yesterday, I went out of the house bringing with me my Nathan Hydration Belt, some cash and identification card. It was 11:40 AM and the sky was covered with thick clouds and there was a 20% chance of rainfall as predicted by the Weather Report. The weather was cool at mid-60s and I wore my TNF long-sleeved technical running shirt.

From the house, I maintained an average pace of  5:45-6:00 mins/km while running along the sidewalk, facing the incoming traffic. The streets from the house to Griffith Park consisted of uphill & downhill terrain but there are times that I had to stop whenever I cross busy intersections. There are designated pedestrian crossing areas on the streets that you have to wait for that pedestrian light (a walking figure in white light) to glow while a blinking red light with a figure of a palm of the hand means that you are not allowed to cross the road yet! It is a simple street light in crossing a street but the people here follow the lights even without the presence of a police. By the way, do you wonder why there are no traffic aides or policemen here in every corner of the streets? The answers are: the traffic lights are there (very efficient) in every crossing and the citizens (drivers & pedestrians) are disciplined in terms of road rules and regulations. In the Philippines, we have those traffic lights, yet, we still have those traffic aides & PNP & Highway Patrol & LTO, but most of us do not follow those pedestrians lights and coss the streets along the pedestrian lanes!!! Very simple rule but it is hard to implement. Your answer is as good as mine.

After running for almost 10 kilometers, I finally reached the foot on the northern part of the mountain at the Griffith Park. I intended not to go to the trails that I’ve been into last year and I started to explore while I was on the road that goes to the Griffith Park’s Golf Course. While running uphill along the asphalted road, I saw an opening of a trail track on my left and I immediately went to it and started to run uphill. Yes, the small trail led me to a wider trail which is a part of those many trail roads/fire roads that snake up to the peak of every ridge at Mt Hollywood.

Even with the coolness of the place, my sweat, coming from the visor of my runner’s cap, started to drip to my legs and shorts and it was continous while my legs were taking shorter strides and my arms were swinging at a moderate frequency. It was a very challenging uphill climb where I had to brisk walk along steeper climbs along the way. I have to practice what I’ve learned in ultra trail running—“brisk walk” on those steep uphill climbs and “fly” on the downhill side in order to preserve my strength for the rest of my running workout. 

At The Hyperion Bridge where I Had A Picture of My Daughter Running The 1st City of Angels Half-Marathon

At The Hyperion Bridge where I Had A Picture With My Daughter Running The 1st City of Angels Half-Marathon (The Mountain Range on the Background Was My Destination)

My Entry Towards Griffith Park

My Entry Towards Griffith Park

Finally, I Entered This Trail

Finally, I Entered This Trail

Trail Running Alone Is Refreshing!

Trail Running Alone Is Refreshing!

After 15-20 minutes of steady uphill climb, I came up with a water fountain! I walked towards it and drank some water and took some pictures and later I was back on my run. Later, I was running on an asphalted road but it was a short distance. At the end of the asphalted road, I saw some people who are preparing for a buffet lunch in one of the vista places along the route and I realized there was a  movie or TV “shooting” in progress within the vicinity. I did not dare to stop but just greeted the people I met along the road.

My First "Aid Station"

My First "Aid Station"

A Drinking Fountain On The Mountain Park

A Drinking Fountain On The Mountain Park

I entered Bridle Trail and that was the start (again!) of another more challenging uphill climb. Every time I reached a high part of the route, I would look up for another target to reach and study the trail that leads to it. That procedure had been repeated until I reached the highest peak of the mountain. I did not realize that the name of the highest peak is Dante’s Peak. It was my daughter who told me of the name as she already reached such place by hiking. I further “googled” it and I was able to see this website.

The Entrance To Bridle Trail

The Entrance To Bridle Trail

More Trails...

More Trails...

And More Uphill Climbs...

And More Uphill Climbs...

Finally, A Pose at Dante's Peak

Finally, A Pose at Dante's Peak

HOLLYWOOD Sign at The Background

HOLLYWOOD Sign at The Background (My Right Elbow Pointed To It)

A View of the Back of the Griffith Park Observatory

A View of the Back of the Griffith Park Observatory

Ahh..Running Downhill

Ahh..Running Downhill

After taking some pictures at the said place, I was thinking of pushing myself to go to the HOLLYWOOD sign but after looking at my GF 305, I was already on the road for more than 2 hours! So, I decided to return here on my next running workout and be able to reach the said sign and retrace the route I’ve taken. So, Dante’s Peak became my turn-around point and I prepared for downhill run!

The traction of my TNF Arnuva 50 BOA trail shoes was very helpful on my downhill run as it gave me the needed traction on those steep portions of the route. My quads started to absorb the weight of my body and I started to feel some “burning” pain and my knees were starting to show some pain, too while trying to gain speed on those downhill runs. It was my mistake not to bring any GU/sports gels on this workout as I started to feel hungry. As I reached the water fountain, I drank more water and “peed” on the forested area. After a few minutes of running along the trails, I finally reached the place where I entered and then slowly jogged on the asphalted road until I reached the Los Feliz entrance of the park.

After running for another 3 kilometers on the streets, I entered Ralph’s Grocery Store and bought some cookies and sports drinks. I ate and drank what I bought while I was “brisk walking” along an uphill climb at Glendale Blvd. Finally, I resumed my running until I reached the house. I was able to run/jog/brisk walk a distance of 30.66 kilometers in 3:40 hours! It was a tiring “runabout” but it was refreshing to be out in the mountains and explore what I want to see. 

From the base of the mountain, I thought of coming up with a test or survey on how or what the person/s I met or passed along the trails would react if I greet them or wave my hand to them. I usually greet walkers/hikers or runners along the trail with a simple “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” or just simply wave my left or right hand while smiling at them. This simple courtesy was a good lesson that I’ve learned and observed when I had those trail runs at Mt Wilson with my kids last year. I was able to count 24 people whom I met or passed along those trails at Griffith Park. Out of the 24, only 12 of them greeted me back, most of them ladies and couples (husband & wife) who replied “Hi” or “Hello” and they are “white”. I saw some Asians (I really don’t know if they are Chinese or Vietnamese or Thais or Koreans or Japanese) but they did not greet me back. Unfortunately, I did not see any Filipino!

After the run, I had a shower and ate a lot of food. Later, I started to cook for dinner while watching the NBA Finals’ Game #3. As I predicted, the Magic won this time.

I’ll be back for another run to Dante’s Peak and to the HOLLYWOOD sign soon!

And finally, my food (yes, I cooked them!) and supplement drinks for the past days!!!

Tofu With Bochoy (Pechay)

Tofu With Bochoy (Pechay)

Beef With Ampalaya

Beef With Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd)

DSC06319

My Supplement Drinks

Organic Honey

Organic Honey

And...Probiotic Drinks

And...Probiotic Drinks





Griffith Park, Los Angeles

8 12 2007

I had fond memories with this Recreational Park just outside the city limits of Downtown Los Angeles. This is the place where I bring my family/kids to play, walk, run, bike and picnic when my kids were still in the elementary grades and secondary school. This is still the place where we have our practice runs during my visits with my family.

I have trekked and jogged to almost all the streets, roads and trails of this popular and the biggest municipal park in the United States which is located in a an urban area, almost at the center of Los Angeles City District.

I usually park my cark near the Merry-Go-Round area or at the Maintenance Area of the Golf Course (Harding/Wilson) and start my practice runs from there. I pass through the LA Zoo-Gene Autrey National Center-Southern Railroad Station up to the mountains and following the road that goes to the Loz Feliz Boulevard entrance of the park.

More challenging dirt trails branch out  from the road/street that leads to the Griffith Observatory. These trails lead to the peak of the mountain where the Hollywood sign is located. This is where you could see the vast area that occupies the Los Angeles City District and its neigboring cities.

 Lots of running activities/road races and biking are done in this park, too! One of the most popular road race events done inside the park is the St. John’s Health Center Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon which is usually done a month (4th Sunday of April) after the Los Angeles Marathon.

Whenever you are in Los Angeles area, it is a must to visit this recreational park as it offers a lot of attractions and memorable places to see.








%d bloggers like this: