Sunday, April 30, 2017

Running in Los Angeles, California: Hollywood's Griffith Park

Here is one of the most iconic urban hills with its giant letters which everyone has seen many times:
Way more popular than our local San Bruno Mountain with the South San Francisco letters, isn't it?!

Probably less people know about the detailed geography of the surrounding park, however. At least it was the case for me and that gave me an incentive to get a couple of hilly runs to explore, and an opportunity to share about it, in case you are not familiar with this urban park.

As a matter if fact, urban may not be appropriate with regard to such megalopolis, Los Angeles: 4 million people in the city itself and more than 13 millions in the agglomeration, that's not large, that's huge! And that make me appreciate even more our human scale Silicon Valley... We were staying for 2 nights in Hollywood this weekend, meeting friends visiting from France and, first fact, Hollywood isn't a city, just a LA neighborhood. But West Hollywood is a city, albeit quite a small one in contrast. See the convoluted boundaries of the city of Los Angeles, it even has holes in it (e.g. Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, San Fernando)! And it stretches pretty thin in the South to get to the Pacific Ocean and claim the Terminal Island...
The Hollywood Hills are home to Griffith Park, a great patch of nature in this otherwise dense concrete area. Here is where Griffith Park is located in the LA area/basin:
Of course, the park, and especially the Griffith Observatory, gained quite some notoriety last year with La La Land. And I don't know if that's the origin, but this is quite a popular place, judging by the number of people I've seen. I first ran through the park on Friday evening, and was amazed by the number of people not only hiking up to the observatory, but beyond and higher as a matter of fact. And I went back on Saturday morning at 7 am and, this time, was blown away by the crowd of early birds! They were quite a few healthy locals I think and a large group of 30 or so buoyant Chinese but, they might have well been locals as well given the rich diversity of the California population.

There is a great detailed map on line which is useful given the convoluted nature of the trails.

Or you can do as I did, explore without planning. There are trail signs and directions here and there, which are useful if you know the names of the local peaks, each with a name: Mt. Lee (1,690 ft) with the famous antenna above the Hollywood sign, Mt. Hollywood (1,625 ft) straight above the Observatory, Mt. Chapel (1,614 ft) on which I scrambled with difficulty, Mt. Bell (1,582 ft) which I went around on the North side, Glendale Peak (1,184 ft) on the East side of the Park.

Quite tame elevations by any standards but several short steep grades to reach these hilltops for some good pre-Miwok hill work (I ran 15.5 on Friday, finishing at night, and 9.5 early Saturday morning).

No race report this time, I took the time to take pictures and even visit the Griffith Observatory which is quite a place to visit and learn about our solar system while getting amazing views over Los Angeles (when the sky is clear at least, which was the case this weekend, exceptionally, thanks to strong winds on Friday).

Overall, a large park given the lack of green spaces in this megalopolis, but it made me realize once more how luck we are in Silicon Valley with so many much larger hilly parks all around the Bay Area! Granted, without the craziness of Hollywood's entertainment, we have much more discreet wealthy people over here, no buses driving around to hunt celebrities, phew! ;-)

With that, enjoy a virtual visit below, and see some of you on similar hilly fire roads at Miwok 100K in a week!

The fist steep uphill toward the Observatory
More than these two trails actually climb to the Observatory (in addition to a road open to cars)
 Switch back fire roads leading to the Observatory
 The Griffith Observatory and 3 domes
 View over Los Angeles and its financial district

One of the observatory's exhibits which fascinated me the most: a spectrohelioscope which allows you to see the Sun's photosphere live!

The Astronomer Monument and Sundial on the esplanade of the observatory, with Mt. Hollywood in the background:
 Mt. Lee and the Hollywood sign from the Observatory:
The Berlin Forest, just a few hundreds yards from the Observatory, in honor of LA's sister city, an international tie established in 1967, just 50 years ago!

 View of the Observatory and LA from the top of Mt. Hollywood:

 The survey monument marker at the top of Mt. Hollywood:
 View over the North side of the Park, toward Glendale and Burbank:
 At the top of Mt. Chapel:

 Another way to enjoy the Park, horse riding from the Sunset Ranch stables
 Sunset behind Mt. Lee

 A gift from the Rotary Club of Los Angeles, a bench at the top of Mt. Hollywood
"I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy." -- Kahlil Gibran
 The Dante's View, on the way back from the top of Mt. Hollywood:

 Early morning view over the Observatory and downtown Los Angeles

 Mt. Lee in the morning light:

 Crowd at the top of Mt. Hollywood at 7 am!