Bee Rock juts above the western mountainside of Griffith Park. The sandstone outcrop is pocked with holes, and with the shape, it looks a bit like a beehive. This is a short hike with over 600 ft of total vertical gain, and a fascinating swing through the Old Los Angeles Zoo.
Begin by parking at the Griffith Park merry-go-round lot, and follow the paved road past the gate. As the paved road bends to the right, you’ll see a dirt road splitting to the left and uphill. Take this “Old Zoo Trail” and you’ll soon enjoy views over Griffith Park and the city below.
Turn left (west) at Bee Rock Trail — a quarter-mile long trail that follows the south side of the canyon.
You’ll reach a point where the broad trail appears to disappear into the brush. Here you’ll take a hard left and follow a sometimes steep, overgrown single-track trail to the top.
There is a junction as you climb. Bear right and follow on until you reach the top of the ridge.
You’ll know when you’re there because you’re “welcomed” by a chain link fence. Turn left, following the trail that parallels the fence to the summit of Bee Rock.
I don’t understand why this summit is surrounded by fence. It’s a sad artifact from the past that probably wouldn’t happen in today’s environment. If anyone knows the story and why it hasn’t been taken down, I’d love to hear it.
The views here can still be pretty special. Soak them in, catch your breath, and then retrace your steps back to the junction of the Bee Rock Trail and the Old Zoo Trail. Here you’ll bear left, then turn right at the corner of the fence. Follow the fence to the opening, then head up the trail straight ahead. This winds behind many of the exhibits from the Old Los Angeles Zoo.
History of the Old Los Angeles Zoo
This canyon in Griffith Park served as the Los Angeles City Zoo from 1912 to 1965, when the zoo and it’s animals were moved to their present location approximately two miles north. Many of the grottos and enclosures were built in the 1930’s by WPA crews. As you wander through the enclosures, it’s easy to see why they are not used today. Our understanding of zoological science has dramatically improved, as have the living conditions for the animals in zoos.
Head through the Old Zoo and bear right to the path back to the merry-go-round parking lot. And be a kid for a few minutes — ride the carousel before you head home.
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More Bee Rock Trail Resources
These guides give other views, information and perspectives on hiking to Bee Rock.
- Write-up of Bee Rock and Old Zoo Park from Dan’s Hiking Pages
- Bee Rock Hike via Josh at California Through My Lens
- A 4-Mile Hike to Bee Rock via Hikespeak
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