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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hike to the Top of the Hollywood Sign, Brush Canyon Trailhead

The most iconic symbol of Los Angeles is also one of the most challenging to actually experience. 

My family and I were back in Los Angeles during our kids Spring Break - and my wife and I (finally) made it to the top of the Hollywood Sign. 

Technically you can NOT hike to the Hollywood Sign. However, there are several trails allowing you to hike to the top of Mount Lee, just behind the sign - with, potentially stunning views. 

We opted for the Bruch Canyon Trailhead. There was a small parking lot, with additional parking down the hill. Here's a couple links ("Trails to the Hollywood Sign" and "Hiking to the Sign" which we found very helpful. Please note: as of April 2017, the trailhead to the Hollyridge Trail is closed). Whichever route you choose, I strongly recommend doing a bit of research ahead of time.  


Above, a map of Los Angeles' 4310 acre (1,740 hectare) Griffith Park. The majority of the park is mountainous open space, with hiking trails along it's various canyons and ridges. Very different than, say, New York's Central Park or Chicago's Millennium Park. 

Where ever you start, know where you're going - even if it means just taking a photo of the route, which is what we did. Our destination was Mt. Lee, overlooking the Hollywood Sign. 

There was a small seasonal stream running down the canyon, which was beautiful. All this is within Los Angeles city limits. 

Looking up Brush Canyon. The hike was pleasant and cool when we started around 7am. 

While there's some great views along the trail, there's little or no shade. If you go - go early.


View of the Griffith Observatory (left). Beyond it, the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles

Pay attention to the signage, and your map. The Brush Canyon Trail is considered a moderate, three hour hike. It's 6.4 miles (10.2 km) roundtrip, with a 1,110 ft (335 m) elevation gain.


As you hike, you'll catch small glimpses of the Sign.


The "trail" is actually a fire road, which is actually paved towards the top.


In addition to some spectacular views from the "city side," the trail also offers views on the other side of Mount Lee, of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. 


Looking north with views of Forest Lawn Memorial Park, the Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers Studios. Unknown to most people, only one of the six major studios (Paramount) is located in Hollywood proper.


Cahuenga Peak, adjacent to Mount Lee, was added to Griffith Park in December 2010. Our family, along with thousands of other individuals from around the world, made a small donation to this project. Here's a link with more information.


View of the Lake Hollywood, the reservoir in the Hollywood Hills. Here's a link to when my wife and I hike around the reservoir back in 2011. Which I'd recommend if you're looking for something more leisurely. 


Made it to the top. Was it worth it? You tell me.


There's a small, very handmade bench of sorts at the top. The City of Los Angeles is in a perpetual tug of war with an incredible landmark that people from all around the world want to see --- AND a group of wealthy and very influential homeowners that have worked to make access to the sign very difficult. In 2017, local residents were able to close access to the sign via the much shorter Hollyridge Trail. Which is too bad.


While you can see the sign - the backside of the sign - there is a fence preventing you from getting to the actual sign. Of course, people try. Don't be one of those people. 


Time to break out the "pano" feature on the iPhone.

And, of course, a selfie or two. 


In addition to views of downtown Los Angeles, there were views of Hollywood, Koreatown, and Miracle Mile district along Wilshire Blvd in the distance.


A final photo before heading back.


Apparently, there's a trail along the recently acquired Cahuenga Peak, but is described as a "rugged single track" trail. Maybe another time.


Heading back down. The fence to the left - with several "keep out" signs - are along the top of the Hollywood Sign. The City has gotten very serious about keeping hikers or adventurous types away from the actual sign. Again, please don't try it.


A final view looking over the fence with Beverly Hills, Century City, and the Pacific Ocean off in the distance. 

A view of the fireroad, plus Griffith Observatory and downtown Los Angeles, heading back. 

Unfortunately - there are no toilet facilities anywhere along the trail (or at the top). 

Back towards the parking lot.


The seasonal stream. Apparently, the Bronson Cave is located 1/2 a mile from here. The Bronson Cave has been used in many movies and TV shows, it's most famous role as the Batcave in the 1960's Batman TV Show.


Back at the parking lot. Our teenage kids were not excited about getting up at 6am for the hike. Sorry. They missed out. 

Heading back, we rolled up the the Emerson College, at Sunset Blvd and Gordon Street. Emerson main campus is is located in Boston. This is their West Coast extension campus.


Waiting for the light at Sunset and Gordon, I grabbed a final photo of the Hollywood Sign out my rear view mirror. 



More next time. 

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com


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Saturday, August 24, 2019

La Brea Tar Pits

This past Spring, my wife, teenage kids, and I were in Los Angeles for a three day get-away. It was a chance to enjoy memories from when we lived in L.A. - and experience a few new things. Here are link to Part I (Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History), Part II ("Becoming Los Angeles" exhibit there) and Part III (The Wilshire Grand, downtown Los Angeles). 

While my teenage kids took naps (it was a vacation after all), I walked from where we were startng a mile down Wilshire Blvd to the La Brea Tar Pits. The La Brea Tar Pits has the distinction of being the largest collection of Ice Age Mammal Fossils in the world. And - incredibly - it's located in the heart of Los Angeles. 


As the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits is part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural, it was a also a "free day" there as well. Both museums offer a free day the first Tuesday every month (except in July and August). 


Inside, a massive "American Mastodon" skeleton. 


More Ice Age animal skeletons.

A collection of Dire Wolf skulls. 


A highlight is the museums Fossil Lab. 


An on duty researcher working on the skull of a sabertooth cat. 


This gives an idea of densely packed each of the tar pits are will bones. The tar serves to protect these bones from normal decay. 


Life size model of an Ice Age era Sabertooth Cat (often incorrectly called a Sabertooth Tiger). 


The outdoor atrium of the museum. 

Photo credit: Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
Apparently, museum officials have just announced plans to a complete makeover of the museum and area surrounding it. Here's a link with more information on three possible plans. I actually added this a couple of days after the initial post. At any rate, I don't have a strong opinion either way ... 


... except that to keep some version of the iconic 1966 fiberglass mammoths at the edge - and in - the main Tar Pit visible from Wilshire Blvd. I mean, what would Los Angeles be without them? 


The La Brea Tar Pits are located at 5801 Wilshire Blvd in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles.


Across the street was the "Wall on Wilshire" - the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. Some construction was going on around them, hard to get a good photo. Here's a link from a previous visit. 


Back on the north side of Wilshire was Chris Burden's Urban Light. LOVE this beautiful collection of historic street lights. Here's a link to a previous post from 2009, which apparently is the more popular posts on this blog. 


Walking back, I stopped by Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass. My initial impression wasn't great. For whatever reason, this 340 ton boulder has grown on me over the years. The best view is looking east in the afternoon, when the light helps hide the metal support structure. At least on the left side, the 340 ton boulder does seem to levitate - at least, a bit. 


Construction of the massive Academy Awards Museum scheduled to open sometime in 2020. The museum will occupy the historic art deco Wilshire and Fairfax 1939 May Company Department Store. Under construction is a massive dome, with views looking out toward Hollywood. 


Immediately across the street, on the northwest corner of Wilshire and Fairfax is Johnie's Coffee Shop Restaurant. This being Los Angeles, this iconic "Googie" style coffee shop is used for TV and movie shoots (rather than operating as an actual coffee shop). 


Walking back, it was sobering to see several tents along Wilshire, just a couple of blocks from Beverly Hills. It was reminder that the homeless situation in Los Angeles is very real. Mental illness, drugs, alcohol, the inability hold down a a job, the list goes on for the reasons. Here's a link to a previous post on some additional thoughts.

Solutions are much harder to come by. Solutions that are compassionate, that exercise "tough love," are economically viable, and that incentivize getting off (and staying off) the streets. The Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles, and The Dream Center in Echo Park are a couple of examples of non-profits that are working hard to not simply house men, women, and families - but to work with the much harder root causes ... and give people the ability to get into long term housing. 



It was a bit jarring to go from tents along to Wilshire to the glitz of the the sign welcoming you into Beverly Hills. 

I worked at this office building, located on the corner of Wilshire and San Vincente, for one summer while a student at UCLA. Fun walking by. 


On the left across the street was the Dolly Saken School of the Arts. Our kids took a class, and were involved with one of the productions (along with other home school families) when we lived in Los Angeles. 

As mentioned, we stayed at an AirBnB rather than a hotel. 

It felt like staying in a friends apartment. While it had it's qwirks, it certainly had more space, at about the same price, as a single hotel room. Worked for us. 


Dinner at DuPar's at Original Farmer's Market, at 6th and Fairfax, about a mile away. 

Orignal Farmer's Market is a series of open air stalls and small shops. It's been around since 1934. 

Outdoor seating. 

I had hope to eat outside, but my kids voted for indoors (DuPars) which was fine.

Next time: an early morning hike to the top of the Hollywood Sign

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com