Amir's GardenIt's been too hot to hike. But we snuck a short one in at Griffith Park last Sunday, plus an hour of play at Shane's Inspiration Playground. Our toddler had just started sleeping in a bed instead of a crib, and we were looking to tire him out.
We hiked the short (1/2 mile) trail to Amir's Garden. A volunteer, Amir Dialameh, landscaped this area with exotic plants. Although I wish he'd opted for native plants, the area is a lush, cool respite. The steep, little paths that run between the dense vegetation are fun for kids to explore.
The first 1/4 mile of this trail is steep, so this is a better hike for kids over five. (Our two-year-old climbed on dad when the going got tough.) The trail levels out once you hit the water towers.
Other highlights of the hike: good views of Glendale, the Verdugo Mountains, NE Los Angeles, and eastern Griffith Park; and horses that frequent the trail, stopping to slurp from the trough at Amir's. (But some can get a little too friendly.)
The trail to Amir's is an unpaved fire road; it's hot and exposed, so don't hike it midday. Still, you cool down once you get there. The benches make it a nice spot for a snack.
If your kids are still energetic you can follow the trail further uphill. We turned around and headed for the playground. You can also couple this hike with pony rides (and train), the Merry-Go-Round, or Travel Town, all of which are fairly close by.
Directions to the Trailhead
I find LA Recreation and Park's website for Griffith woefully inadequate. It lacks a good map and directions to key features. It's also not updated. (The Bird Sanctuary looks alluring on the website, but the trail through it is closed.)
From the intersection of Griffith Park Drive and Crystal Springs Drive (next to Shane's Inspiration Playground, just north of the Merry-Go-Round), follow signs for the Harding Wilson Golf Courses Club House. Take Griffith Drive past the Club House to Mineral Wells Picnic Area. Just as you arrive at the picnic area, look for the junction of three trails, including a wide road that heads to some water towers. That's your trail.
From the NW corner of the park, look for the intersection of Zoo Drive and Griffith Park Drive (near Forest Lawn cemetery). Take Griffith Park Drive (heading SE) to Mineral Wells Picnic Area. At the southern tip of the parking lot, look for the junction of three trails, including a wide road that heads to some water towers. That's your trail.
Or try these directions sent to me by the volunteers who maintain the garden.