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  • Georgina D'Angelo

Griffith Observatory Hike: Mount Hollywood’s Best Views

Updated: Feb 1


Griffith Observatory Hike - Mount Hollywood Trail. Alpacka My Bags Travel Blog

Perched on the mountainside of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, Griffith Observatory is a world-known astronomical leader. While its main function is operating as an observatory with telescopes, a planetarium, and an exhibition space, Griffith Observatory attracts many visitors who want to enjoy the views of LA and the mountains beyond.


A must-do activity for adventure and nature lovers visiting, or living in, the Los Angeles area is to complete the Griffith Observatory hike that winds way up above the observatory itself and offers breathtaking views, and an exciting outdoor adventure activity in a bustling city.


Plan your morning at Griffith Park, enjoy the hiking, tour the free observatory, and find the best view of Los Angeles all in one place. Let’s dive into the fun part; here is the ultimate guide for the Griffith Observatory hike!


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Griffith Observatory Hike


Griffith Observatory is located in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Griffith Park itself is home to many hiking trails that range in difficulty and length. The famous Hollywood sign hike is actually in this park! But the most popular hike right near the observatory is Mount Hollywood Trail. It generally takes a couple of hours to complete and starts in the parking lot.


You can easily hike much longer here if you please; another trail that starts at the observatory is called Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Sign, and Cahuenga Peak Trail. This hiking trail will take an average of 4.5 hours to complete as it’s much longer. We’ll dive into the Griffith Observatory hike details below.


Another option in Griffith Park is to book a Hollywood Sign walking tour. You will have a knowledgeable guide with you to share historical facts and fun Hollywood stories. You'll also receive photos to take home as a souvenir.


Views on the Griffith Observatory Hike Mount Hollywood Trail
Views on the Griffith Observatory Hike

Mount Hollywood Trail - The Most Popular Griffith Observatory Hike


Trail Length: 2.4 miles

Type: Loop, starts in observatory parking lot

Elevation Gain: 492 feet

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Average Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Dog Friendly: Yes, leashed


Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Sign, and Cahuenga Peak - The Longer Option


Trail Length: 9.2 miles

Type: Loop, starts in observatory parking lot

Elevation Gain: 1,722 feet

Difficulty: Challenging

Average Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Dog Friendly: Yes, leashed



Before you hit the trails at Griffith, make sure you’re prepared for your outdoor adventure. Pack a bag with all the day hiking essentials you need so you can stay comfortable and make the most of your hike. There is little to no shade on both of these trails, so make sure you bring plenty of sun protection and water.


How to Get to Griffith Observatory


This famous observatory, along with the hiking trails mentioned above, is high up in the mountains of Los Angeles. Having a car will make it much faster to get to, but you should expect to pay a hefty parking fee. The good news is you can easily get to the Griffith Observatory without a car; that’s what we did!


You can utilize public transportation and save money. The total ride takes about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. From downtown LA, near Koreatown, hop on the Metro Line B train and get off at Vermont & Sunset. This is around 6 stops if you’re coming from downtown.




From here, there is a bus that runs a loop from Vermont & Sunset straight up to the observatory. It’s about 11 stops, and you won’t miss the observatory (it’s very noticeable and most people will be getting off here). Please note that this bus doesn’t run very often in the mornings.


If you plan to enjoy the Griffith Observatory hike earlier in the morning, there is a good chance the bus won’t be running yet, or you’ll have to wait an hour between rides. This happened to us so don’t fret!


I recommend getting an Uber from the Vermont & Sunset metro station. The car ride is around 15 minutes, and when we went around 9 in the morning on a weekday, it only cost $8. This is a good way to still save money by taking the train part way, and convenient to have an Uber take you up the mountain.


The trailhead for both the Mount Hollywood Trail and the Griffith Park, Hollywood Sign, and Cahuenga Peak Trail are right at the end of the Griffith Observatory parking lot. There is a small patch of trees you’ll walk through, and then it’s mostly uncovered. There should also be a sign for the trailhead.


Mt Hollywood Hiking Trail Head - Griffith Observatory
Mt Hollywood Hiking Trail Head - Griffith Observatory

How Long Does the Griffith Observatory Hike Take?


If you opt for the shorter Griffith Observatory hike, Mount Hollywood Trail, it will take an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete. If you’re like us and love to stop and take photos of everything, plan to spend around 2 hours on the trail.


The longer trail, Griffith Park, Hollywood Sign, and Cahuenga Peak Trail, takes an average of 4.5 hours to complete. It is much longer and more challenging, so make sure you prepare accordingly.


The journey to get to Griffith Observatory from downtown LA takes about 45 minutes if you use public transportation. The drive will take around 30 minutes, and expect to pay for parking. I recommend arriving early so you can secure a parking spot if you’re driving.


People horseback riding on Mount Hollywood Trail - Griffith Park Los Angeles
Opt for a trail ride in Griffith Park

What to Wear and Bring on the Griffith Observatory Hike


Make sure you check the weather before you head out hiking. There is little to no shade coverage on either of these trails, so make sure you bring plenty of sun protection. If you’re hiking here in the summer, I recommend sticking to shorts and a t-shirt with plenty of sunblock. Or opt for a sun shirt for maximum protection.


It doesn’t get too cold in LA in the winter, but I recommend wearing pants and a jacket if you wish to complete the Griffith Observatory hike this time of year.


Always make sure you’re prepared for your hike and have all the day hiking essentials you need. This will allow you to stay safe and comfortable, and have fun so you can make the most of your outdoor adventure in Los Angeles!



man from back admiring view of Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory
What to Wear on the Griffith Observatory Hike

When to Go on the Griffith Observatory Hike

It’s hard to run into bad weather in LA, so really any time of year is a great time to go on the Griffith Observatory hike. You should keep an eye on the temperature if you’re visiting in the middle of summer as it can get quite hot, especially in the middle of the day.


As for the time of day, I recommend going in the morning in order to avoid crowds. The sooner after sunrise you go, the fewer people you’ll see. That being said, if you want to enjoy the free observatory as well, I recommend planning your hike for later in the morning.


Griffith Observatory doesn’t open until 12 pm generally, 10 am on the weekends, so plan your hike start time accordingly. We visited on a Tuesday, started our hike around 9:30 am, completed it around 11:15 am, and rested until the doors opened at 12 pm.


This makes it easy to grab breakfast downtown before making your way to Griffith. You’ll be energized and ready to hike and still have plenty of time to see more of Los Angeles in the afternoon. It’s a little busier during the later morning, but nothing crazy if you can go in the middle of the week.


There is also a cafe at Griffith Observatory, so once it's open you can grab a bite to eat and refuel after your hiking adventure.



Hollywood Sign from Griffith Observatory
Hollywood Sign from Griffith Observatory

FAQ: Griffith Observatory Hike


How long is the hike to Griffith Observatory?

I don’t recommend trying to hike from downtown LA to Griffith Observatory. If you want a little more adventure and challenge, hike from the Vermont & Sunset metro station up to the observatory.


This takes about an hour and is very steep so make sure you’re ready for it. Or conserve your energy, take public transportation or an Uber, and enjoy the Griffith Observatory hike once you’re up there. The views are absolutely spectacular.


How hard is Griffith Park hike?

With a fairly steep incline up the mountain, the Griffith Park hike is on the challenging side. Make sure you pack plenty of water and snacks, and even more if you plan to tackle the longer trail.


If you’re an inexperienced hiker, make sure you know your limits and are prepared for the physical challenge of walking up the mountain. It’s so worth it, but you should always know what your max is.


What is the easiest hike at Griffith Observatory?

There are so many trails in Griffith Park ranging in difficulty and length. To enjoy the amazing views of the Griffith Observatory and the city of Los Angeles beyond, Mount Hollywood Trail is where you need to go. This 2.4-mile loop offers many views and isn’t too long. There is a slight incline so make sure you wear proper footwear.



If you’re visiting Los Angeles for a few days, you should definitely add this Griffith Observatory hike to your itinerary. It’s an LA staple with views of the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory, and downtown Los Angeles beyond.


Start your morning with a fun and slightly challenging hike then relax by spending the next few hours leisurely exploring the free Griffith Observatory. You don’t want to miss this fantastic and fun piece of LA. It takes less than 1.5 hours to complete on average, and it conveniently starts in the observatory parking lot.


Pack your day bag, don’t forget your water and snacks, and hit the trail. The Griffith Observatory hike, or Mount Hollywood Trail, is a must for those who love hiking and those who are always looking for the best views. You won’t find any others quite like it in Los Angeles.


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aboutME

Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 

 

I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.

 

I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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