Looking for a short, after-work hike in Griffith Park with fewer crowds and great city views? This 3.8 mile loop hike with a stop at the easternmost peak in the Santa Monica Mountains might be exactly what you’re looking for. The trail follows broad double-track dirt trails that are perfect for trail running, dog walking and social hikes. The short loop can be hiked in about an hour and a half from either direction. We’ll take you “clockwise” in our guide.
Getting to the Trailhead
Park at Merry Go Round Lot One. The Lower Beacon Trail begins just beyond and the the left of the gate you pass on the way into the parking lot. Get turn-by-turn directions here on Google Maps. Griffith Park is open from 5am to 10:30pm, and there is no cost for entry or parking.
Hiking the Beacon Hill Loop Trail
Start the clockwise loop on the Lower Beacon Trail. But don’t look for a trail sign; Griffith Park trails are notoriously poorly marked. Bring GaiaGPS and a copy of the Griffith Park Map (PDF) for reference.
The Lower Beacon Trail will climb and drop a few times as it skirts the eastern boundary of Griffith Park near Interstate 5. Soon, downtown Los Angeles comes into view in the distance.
At 1.25 miles, you reach a fork with a trail that heads downhill. Bear to the right, skirting the fence for the nearby driving range.
A short distance further, you reach a three-way junction as the Lower Beacon, Cadman and Coolidge Trails meet. Bear right once more, taking the Coolidge Trail. From here, the trail begins to climb more steeply, eventually reaching the junction known as 5-Points. Turn right once again to head up the short spur trail to the summit of Beacon Hill.
The top of the hill was flattened for the long-gone beacon, but you can linger here and watch the city lights begin to twinkle before heading back to the 5-Points junction. The Verdugo Mountains, Burbank, Glendale, and Downtown Los Angeles are all part of this panoramic vista.
At 5-Points, once again, take the first trail to the right. This is the Fern Canyon Trail, and will take you back to the parking area, closing your loop.
Beacon Hill Loop Trail Map & Elevation Profile
Beacon Hill Tips & Resources
- There is no water available on this route. Bring your own.
- Download the official Griffith Park Trail Map (PDF)
- Book: Afoot and Afield: Los Angeles County
- Book: Day Hiking Los Angeles
Griffith Park Weather Forecast
Originally hiked on July 15, 2015.