If you're anything like me, it can be hard to force yourself to try something new, especially when you have favorite old standbys. When I was a kid, it was YEARS before I would try anything other than chocolate-peanut-butter ice cream.
This is especially true for me when it comes to hiking. LOVE hiking, am frequently intimidated by new hiking trails. I hate not knowing what I'm in for--where to park, how long it will take, whether the effort is worth it, etc.
So I'd been hearing about Amir's Garden in Griffith Park for awhile. Click the photo to read the full story about WHY this random garden exists in the middle of Griffith Park, it's pretty awesome. I really wanted to check it out but just kept putting it off.
It's not--if you know what you're looking for. And it is SO worth it. I know this because one morning I decided to get off my butt and go find this place.
The quick 'n dirty vital info:
- Took me maybe 15 minutes to get from parking to the Garden.
- Once you start, it just keeps going uphill.
- Bear in mind that it's an exposed fire road, so if you do it in the middle of a hot day you'll get sweaty and need lots of sunscreen.
- Also it can be a little slippery so I wouldn't do it in flip-flops.
- I went in March and there were a lot of bugs--I'll be wearing repellent next time I go.
- There's water at the top for horses and dogs, as well as picnic tables and a trash can!
So once you get into Griffith Park, you're going to want to park at the Mineral Wells Picnic Area. It's in between the composting facility and the golf course, if you're looking at Google Maps.
Usually, you can park in the designated Mineral Wells parking lot, but for some reason that was closed so I parked along the street.
This would be a great hike to pair with a picnic, as you could either picnic before or after your hike at Mineral Wells, or be ambitious and haul your food up to the Garden. Your call.
Anyway, here's the trailhead that you're looking for:
You'll have the option of heading up the dirt road--do that. Right in front of you, you'll see this fork in the road:
Bear to the left, up the steep incline.
It's the steepest right away, so don't give up too soon. Even if you're not really into hiking, it's not as bad as it feels at first. And almost immediately you'll be rewarded with a pretty neat view if you turn around!
High above on the ridge ahead of you, you'll see a water tower--just keep following the fire road. It will make a left-hand turn and straight in front of you, you will see Water Tower #73!
Head towards the creepy water tower. You're going the right way!
Soon you'll be rewarded with another awesome view of everything that's east of Los Angeles. This is when I decided this would be a really awesome sunrise hike. Right after that I laughed. Because sunrise hike. HA!
Don't give up now, because if you've made it this far, you're within sight of the Garden!
Head towards that promontory, and suddenly the vegetation will turn from desert scrub to...greener. Flowery. Obviously watered. It's very odd.
And then you stumble into a clearing and...TA-DA!! Amir's Garden!!
Chance was super happy to get into some shade. Also he was very excited about the pool of cool water. The trough is for horses (there are also hitching posts in this clearing so you can tie up your steed while you explore), and then right next to it is a little pool for dogs.
There are several benches that ring this clearing, and many little trails branching off it that wind through the surrounding Garden.
Now, this isn't a Garden with neat little rows or labels or anything like that. It's really just a surreal little patch of Griffith Park that has some flowers and plants you won't see elsewhere, with charming little trails and staircases winding around this one little peak (it reminds me a little bit of Meditation Mount in Ojai).
My favorite part? These little viewing benches. They face generally eastward so I bet they're great for viewing that aforementioned sunrise.
They're pretty romantic too--someone has gone to the trouble of trying to seclude them from each other with branches. It would probably be fun to wake up really early with your significant other, pack a little breakfast, put some coffee in travel mugs, and have a little early-morning picnic whilst snuggling. Probably. I wouldn't know. One of you will have to do that and tell me how it goes. I'm not bitter.
If you really need a table for that breakfast you ambitiously hauled up the mountain, here's the picnic area back at the main clearing:
When you're done enjoying the Garden, you can continue on into Griffith Park if you so desire--just follow the same fire road as it snakes up the hill and deeper into the park. It's pretty amazing how quickly the arid vegetation takes over as soon as you hit the edge of the Garden:
If you do that, bring lots of water.
That's about it--there's not a ton that will occupy you at this secret Garden, but it is a pretty unique little spot. It's definitely worth the effort! If you have questions or comments about this hike, please lemme know below!!