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DISTANCE .5 or 4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN 100 or 500 feet
PARKING Free and easily accessible - even for burglars
SPF 37 1/2
CHANCE OF INJURY Very high at the top of the cliffs. Bring your guide dog or an extra long cane if you're blind
WEIRD SMELLS Fresh air. Glade plug-ins.
TIME 20 minutes or 3 hours
FEATURES Caves. Garbage cans disguised as mini caves. Human sluice
ANIMALS Horse Overloads. Guardian Crows. Day Bats.
CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS Mr. Ed and Adam West's DNA
DOG SHIT Stunningly low.
ANYTHING ELSE? Head waters of the Mississippi River.
If you must use the 5 freeway, get off at Los Feliz, and then get to Franklin. “How many blocks and what turn do I make?”…just figure it out. Go west until you find Bronson Ave and take that north. If you’re on the 101, that is much better. Take the Vine exit and get to Franklin Ave east. Take that for a couple stoplights until you pass the Scientologist Celebrity Center. Don’t even look in there or you may be hypnotized and become – you guessed it – a celebrity. Turn left on Bronson Canyon. You’d think that would take you to Bronson caves, but no, Canyon road does that. Duh. Bronson will hit Canyon and you’ll take a left onto Canyon. Take that until you pass the playgrounds and the desperate Boot Camp exercisers. There’s a big dirt parking lot on the right. Park there and hide everything you own. This is a crowded lot on the weekends and hill-people roam the area looking for shiny electronic things that they can sell at the Fresno Swap Meet next weekend
If you’re just going to check out the caves, I would call it more of a stroll than a hike. Flip flips and a martini could easily make the trip.
You walk up along the paved road until you see a sweeping turn off to the right that hits your classic metal gate LA trailhead. That magnificently well groomed trail takes you quickly up to the caves. This trail is nicer than the fairways of the cheap-ass golf courses I play.
You can walk through the caves and make echoing zombie noises for a while, but then… what? It’s a nice view of the Hollywood Sign. I suppose you could eat the sandwich you brought, and then head back to your dinky apartment to continue work on your screenplay. Or…
You could hike up above the caves. Just before you reach the first cave, there is a trail going up to the right. Getting to the top is way worth it! Great view of Griffith Observatory and downtown and Century City. However, you can continue on a monster 4 mile loop.
If you keep walking, you’ll hit the old Mount Hollywood Drive or Mulholland Drive that is now closed to traffic and take a left. It’s kind of fantastic. It’s quiet. It smells nice. It feels very post-apocalyptic – but in a good way. Looking to your left from the trail, you can see your return route below you. It will take a while to get there, but you will get there.
Then you take another left, down some horse trails toward the parking lot. Get off the horse trail as fast as you can by taking another left. Now it’s all down hill for a dusty bit until you hit the cooler, shadier last ½ mile. It has a great number of interesting elements, old spillways, some solar things, trading post hitches…I might be wrong, but there are some interesting things.
At the end, you’ll be glad to get that water bottle you left in the car.
Batman and Robin had to hide somewhere. Running around in tights is still pretty stupid, but back in the 60’s people would throw bricks at you.