Tuesday, February 3, 2009

City Views

Get A Good Look from Elysian Park

Okay, I gotta be honest: Elysian it ain't. It's nice, but certainly not endlessly blissful. However, here's a simple hike that affords good views of the city, from Glendale to East LA. Yes, that concrete canal near the 5 freeway is the Los Angeles River.  

Start at the trailhead at the northwest corner of Stadium Way and Elysian Park Drive, just shy of the Grace E. Simons Lodge.  It's about a 2 mile loop from start to finish. Without kids, you could walk the entire thing in about 40 minutes. With them, who knows!

Most of the trail is smooth and wide, but there is a hill near the end. With little kids, the loop may be too long. Just go as far as you think they'll be able to amble back and turn around. On a recent trip, I saw a mom pulling two tikes in a wagon. You could also trek this trail with a kid in a jogger, or a baby in a carrier. 

The view is really the thing here. The trees are mostly eucalyptus (nonnative), and the weeds have run amok. Still, some natives, such as red-berried toyons, persist.

There's one confusing spot on the trail. Near the end you'll hit a two-way junction that soon leads to another split, pictured below. To avoid a short but steep downhill scramble, take one of the two right-hand trails. They end at a big lawn near a gate. Head downhill on the lawn and the trailhead will be on your left. But all routes return you to the beginning. This trail is popular, so you shouldn't have to worry about getting too lost.

The trail is also a favorite of dog owners, and quite a few let their dogs off-leash. 

If your child--like mine on a recent visit--does not want to hike, there's a nice, new playground across the street from the Simons Lodge.

835 Academy Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The park can be confusing if you're not familiar with it, so bring a map. From Stadium Way, look for signs pointing to the Grace E. Simons Lodge and the Arboretum. Park along the road that leads to the lodge, as close to the intersection of Stadium Way and Elysian Park Drive as possible. The trailhead is on the northwest side of this intersection, about a quarter mile from the Lodge.

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