Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Central Park

Enjoy Wild LA in Griffith Park
Although many areas have been developed and some landscaped, much of this 4,100-acre park is native chaparral. The Ferndell area is popular, but it's a nice introductory spot, and a great place to take visitors.

For an easy stroll with a baby in a jogger or toddling youngster, cruise what I'm calling lower Ferndell. It's the landscaped stretch of creek on the west side of Ferndell Drive soon after you enter the park from Los Feliz Blvd. Look for the large wooden "Ferndell" sign. You can stroll from here up to the Ferndell Picnic Area. At the picnic area, you'll find a small playground. 

For a more vigorous walk, start at the picnic area (across the street from Trails Cafe) and head up Ferndell Canyon. Take the trail on the right side of the creek/dry creek bed. Parts of this trail are steep, so I don't recommend a jogger. If you have a baby or toddler, be prepared to carry her much/most of the way in a baby carrier. (We use a Kelty Kids carrier.) Otherwise, the trail is wide and smooth: easy for kids over age five.

It's about 1.25 mile to the Observatory on this trail. Listen for birds in the oak, sycamore and willow trees in the canyon below you. If you're hiking in winter or spring, look to your right for a large white-blossomed bush that smells like incense. This is ceanothus crassifolius, one of several species of "california lilac" that grows on local hillsides. Blue varieties are common and make lovely additions to home gardens. Also note the red-berried bushes on the slopes here. They are toyon. Early settlers thought it resembled European holly and dubbed it Hollywood. Speaking of, you can see the Hollywood sign from this trail, as well as the Observatory. Near the top--on a clear day--you can see the LA basin all the way to the ocean.

This trail is hot in the summer. Try it on a cooler day or in the morning. 

Ferndell Trail
Ferndell Drive, LA

From Los Feliz Blvd, turn into the park at Ferndell Drive. For the easy stroll, park soon after you enter the park. For the hike: try to park further up, near the picnic area, across from Trails Cafe.

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