Week 254: Griffith Park Toyon Canyon

December 05, 2021

 Discovering Griffith Park #24 Toyon Canyon Loop, 3 miles.

Barbara and I chose this quiet, peaceful loop in the northern section of Griffith Park to celebrate the park's upcoming 125th birthday. On December 16, 1896. Griffith J. Griffith donated 3,015 acres to the city of Los Angeles—still the largest private land gift to the city and LA's largest Historic Cultural Monument. Barbara and I have become kind of fond of trying to tackle the park's 70 mile web of hiking trails and came to give the old girl a nod for her big day. Mother Nature surprised us with a thick morning fog over the city, making for a rather memorable hike around Toyon Canyon. The fog kept us from being distracted by anything beyond 50 feet in front of us! It was great. Casey Schreiner's excellent descriptions clued us in on landmarks to look for. AllTrails' GPS map kept us on the right path, and the compass on my phone told us which way we were looking. We began at the Mineral Wells  Trailhead off Griffith Park Drive. First stop, a picnic area built in the 1930s by the WPA, one of many projects in the park. A half mile in, we passed the entrance to the Griffith Park Composting Faculty—fog hid the facility but we did see mounds of free mulch. Yay? We followed the Mineral Wells Trail to the Toyon Trail then the Oak Canyon Trail, and at one mile saw a Berberis Nevinii—a rare and endangered California plant species worth mentioning. There are less than 600 in existence. A bush in my pics, but will be dressed in yellow flowers in the Spring. Though the climb up the trails was steep, we still could only see what was in front of us, making the stops (and the photos) even more special. At about 2.1 miles, we spotted a lone bench with a sign commemorating the 29 men who died in The Fire of 1933. The men, part of the 3,784 Great Depression WPA and CCC workers that maintained GP trails, cleared brush, and built roads, climbed down into the canyon to douse a brush fire and were trapped. A short walk past the memorial we found Amir's Garden, 5 steep acres cultivated with a pick and shovel by Amir Dialameh from 1971 until his death in 2003. His goal, "an attractive rest spot for hikers." This spot alone is worth its own hike—a lush oasis with hand-built stairs, a crazy-beautiful array of plants, and the prettiest stop of the morning. We hiked through the Garden to a rocky path taking us to the North Trail and a reconnect to our starting point. Hiking in the fog gave us an entirely new perspective on the park that tied us closer to its amazing history and properly celebrate GP's 125th. 





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