Week 191: Mt. Hollywood

October 27, 2019

HIKE Griffith Park & Hollywood Hills, p.33, Mt. Hollywood Trail, 3 miles

Barbara and I can't figure out how we missed this hike. Mt. Hollywood, at 1,625-ft., isn't the highest, nor is it the most famous peak (that would go to Mt. Lee, home of the Hollywood sign.) And yet, the Mt. Hollywood trail is the best-known hike in Griffith Park. Following the directions in John McKinney's HIKE Griffith Park & Hollywood Hills, we set out this morning to find out why. We began at the Charlie Turner Trailhead at the north end of the Observatory parking lot (more on Charlie later.) Next to the trailhead, the George Harrison Tree, a lovely pine by a boulder with a dedication plaque: "in memory of a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician, and a gardener." A few hundred feet from the start of the trail we found a whimsical sign pointing NE to Berlin, 6,000 miles away, and entered the Berlin Forest, a set of picnic tables surrounded by trees planted by L.A.'s German sister-city officials. There's a "L.A. Forest" in Berlin, too, yet I suspect neither has quite grown into their forest moniker just yet. The trail to Mt. Hollywood winds up, up, up, with jaw-dropping views of the basin from the San Gabriels to the Pacific, from the Observatory to the Greek to DTLA. The morning was sunny, with just enough clouds dotting the blue sky to add a bit of awe to frame postcard-worthy photos. We caught an alternate view of the Greek Theater below, tucked into the mountainside. Nearing the top along the east branch of the trail, we wandered into Dante's View, a pretty, 2-acre retreat. Brazilian-born, actor-writer Dante Orgolini began planting palms, pines, and pepper trees on Mt. Hollywood's southern facing slope as a hobby in 1965. After Orgolini passed away in 1978 at age 73, British-born Charlie Turner took over as caretaker. Charlie hiked to Dante's "secret place of honeysuckle, squirrels, quail, and pine" daily to tend to the plants and trees until he turned 90. The unofficial "mayor of Griffith Park" in the 70s, the Mt. Hollywood trail is alternately called the Charlie Turner Trail on maps. Barbara and I noticed that people bring plants to Dante's View to leave a mark or commemorate...something, based on the odd assortment of flora tucked along the trails, steps, and benches, It's wee, a lovely place for picnics or proposals. And, oh, what a view! From there, Barbara and I hiked to the top of Mt. Hollywood—stunning! (I'm running out of breathtaking adjectives. The views were THAT gorgeous.) On the way back we took a shortcut and crab walked down to the trail below. What's a hike without collecting dirt? Step for step, the Charlie Turner Trail to Mt. Hollywood is the best Griffith Park hike we've taken. Local hikers along the trail are friendly and helpful. Mt. Hollywood is must for visitors looking for the Griffith Park experience, or locals who need a getaway workout. Amazing. 

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