Friday, September 27, 2013

Cahuenga Peak, Mt. Lee, Mt. Hollywood

Hiked: 9/27/2013
Distance: 8.6 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1820' (Cahuenga Peak), 1680' (Mt. Lee) , 1625' (Mt. Hollywood)
Prominence: 1030' (Cahuenga Peak), 40' (Mt. Lee) , 265' (Mt. Hollywood)
Elevation Gain: 1783' (combined)
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.42
Round trip time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Recommended water: 54 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free in Griffith Park
Difficulty: Moderate (combined)

In a week with limited hiking time available, I chose to pick up a couple of LPC peaks in Griffith Park, and cruise by the Hollywood Sign. The traffic was bad on the freeways to get into LA, making it a white knuckle, horn honking adventure that was a mental drain before I started. Once I got off the freeways, I headed up Canyon Drive and parked at the last parking lot before the road is gated. The Brush Canyon trail starts right past the fence at the end of the road. This spot is in between Mt. Lee and Mt. Hollywood and a good starting point to navigate the maze of trails in the park. Some of the trails are dirt roads, some are paved, and there are a few single tracks. Almost everything is a mild grade with slightly sharper angles on the use trail to Cahuenga Peak. The Brush Canyon trail ends at a junction with Mulholland trail where I went left toward the Hollywood Sign, the main prize. Shortly, I hit the paved Mt. Lee trail and turned right as it winds around behind Mt. Lee on the opposite side of the Hollywood Sign. It's funny that the Hollywood Sign is not on Mt. Hollywood. It is, however, protected by a fence with plenty of warnings and a visit from a police helicopter about every 30 minutes. The best view is from the summit of Mt. Lee where I took the panorama. I saw no benchmark or register on Mt. Lee.

Starting up Brush Canyon trail

The Hollywood Sign from the summit of Mt. Lee

The Hollywood Reservoir

Cahuenga Peak from Mt. Lee

I only spent a couple of minutes on Mt. Lee before making the 20 minute trek to Cahuenga Peak, the highest point in Griffith Park. The trail to Cahuenga leaves right behind a monument in its honor just below the Mt. Lee summit. The single track was more fun than the wide dirt and paved trails that blanket the park. Cahuenga had a benchmark, but no register. After a few photos, I was on my way back to Mulholland trail on the way to Mt. Hollywood.

Monument to Caheuenga Peak, the use trail to Cahuenga right behind it

Downtown LA from Cahuenga Peak

Coming down from Caheunga Peak

There were a lot of people on the trails. Runners, hikers, dog walkers, bikers, and 6 people on horseback. While it is not downtown LA, there is no sense of isolation or wilderness. I reversed my path on Mulholland, then continued past the junction with Brush Canyon. I made a right turn at the paved Hollywood trail, then the next left up the dirt road toward the water tank and Mt. Hollywood. I spotted a use trail up the ridge just after the first switchback that went past the water tank and directly to the summit of Mt. Hollywood. There were a dozen people milling around on the summit, taking photos and resting. There was a City of LA benchmark, no register, and four picnic tables on the summit. I sat down and had the one snack I brought. The weather and views were as good as they get, except for the light brown haze of smog. I jogged about half way back to the car before stopping when a coyote ran into the trail in front of me. By the time I got my phone ready, he was a ways down the trail, looking back at me every few seconds to make sure I was not a threat.

Heading to Mt. Hollywood

City of LA benchmark on Mt. Hollywood

Mt. Lee and the Sign from Mt. Hollywood, Cahuenga Peak rising in the background

Panorama of LA from Mt. Hollywood

Coyote on the trail on the way down

The down side of having hiked all the nearby peaks is that I have to drive a long way to find one I haven't climbed. It was painfully so in this case, driving through downtown LA on the I-5 and 101 during rush hour. It took me an hour an 45 minutes to get to the trailhead, and an hour and 30 minutes to get home. Only one wreck slowed things down so it could have been worse, but I ended up spending more time driving than hiking. Unless I plan more all day hikes, this problem is going to become more frequent.

See also: Burbank Peak, Cahuenga Peak, Mt. Lee, Mt. Chapel via Wonderview Trail

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