Updated: Nov 9, 2021
The mostly undeveloped land known as Griffith Park offers a glimpse into prehistory through the striking story its geology tells (if you know where to look). The park is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year, and this 16.4 mile ride offers a chance to explore the many iconic features of the park without dealing with the similarly iconic traffic, especially during special events and on the weekends.
Some things to know for this ride: There are two challenging climbs (at the beginning and end of the route). As beautiful and serene as it can be to ride through the paved roads of the park, many of the road conditions can be pretty poor. Please ride with caution, especially during the faster downhill portions of this ride. Pay special attention to gravel and potholes at the beginning of the descent on Mt. Hollywood Dr. Look out for the bike lane as you turn on Zoo Dr. and make sure to give yourself 3 feet between you and the parked cars on the right side of the road. Later, when making the transition from Griffith Park Rd to Griffith Park Blvd, keep an eye out for a small dirt trail on the right side of the road - it leads to a cul-de-sac where you enter the neighborhood. You may have to dismount here to hop the curb. There's spotty reception in parts of the park, so consider downloading the Ride with GPS Route ahead of your ride. Bring lots of water for those climbs and consider some snacks as well. The park closes at sunset, so plan your ride accordingly. Approximate ride time is 4 hrs.
As much as we love riding in Griffith Park, it’s not without its drawbacks. If you see something in need of repair, or notice conditions that would create a dangerous situation for other cyclists, please report the issue to 311.
If you want to help us keep track of these issues, go ahead and let us know about your request via our maintenance tracking form.
In certain parts of the park, such as Fern Dell or Lower Beacon Trails, fault lines make themselves known - a testament to how mountains nearby (like the Verdugos and San Gabriels) influence and scar the landscape. Being a part of its own mountain range, Griffith Park makes up the eastern tip of the Santa Monicas - one of the few east-west ranges in the country.
The park’s geology offers the furthest reach into the past and reminds us how much change has taken place on this land since before it emerged from the ocean to become the basin we know today.
In much the way a preserved historic building can define a city’s aesthetic and highlight its uniqueness, our wild and open spaces are our link to the plants, animals, and rocks that have shaped Los Angeles for millenia. As the City’s largest Historic-Cultural Monument, Griffith Park - along with its plants and animals - receive protection from certain alterations and development. While these 4,210 acres have a designation that protects them, the same can’t be said for all of our open and wild spaces.
As we hurdle toward the consequences of climate change from human-produced greenhouse gases, restoring and protecting nature is seen as one of the best strategies. Not only does nature suck carbon out of the air, but ecosystems can be an important defense against extreme weather. Protecting us from drought, wildfires, heatwaves, or coastal flooding, natural spaces and their preservation are key in combating climate change.
We are proud to bring you this ride in partnership with New Belgium, which earlier this year released a limited edition beer named Torched Earth. The brew took a hands-on approach to explore what the future of beer would be if we don’t address climate change. Brewed with wildfire smoke-tinged water, dandelion root instead of hops and buckwheat instead of barley - this futuristic burnt-tasting beer would theoretically cost you $100 for a six pack.
Combating climate change can seem like a daunting, complex task and our path towards planet catastrophe might appear inevitable. If we’ve learned anything in the past two years, it’s that we can make swift, far-reaching changes to the way we live - if we really need to.
This ride begins at the Fern Dell Place entrance to Griffith Park. This area is steeped in Indigenous history. Ferndell - a canyon with a spring fed stream - is also the site of a Kizh/Tongva/Gabrielino village.
At this site, as well as throughout the park, you’ll see many plants that are native to this area and that indigenous people have stewarded for thousands of years. Among them are the oak trees - a keystone species that sequester a lot of carbon and provide a food source for many living things - including Indigenous people. In Yosemite Valley, the health of oak trees in the park has declined since the forced removal and displacement of indigenous people. Today, intentional efforts are being made to apply indigenous stewardship to provide young oak saplings a chance at survival. As you ride, keep an eye out for this majestic tree.
Railroads have played a pivotal role in the economic and cultural development of many iconic American cities. By the late 1800s, railroad companies had established routes from the east coast crisscrossing the country to the west coast. The establishment of these railroad routes also had profound effects on the landscapes it cut through. One salient example is the decimation of the buffalo population all over the country. Hunting by rail was a popular way to hunt buffalo purely for sport, scattering the landscape with 1,500 pound rotting buffalo carcasses.
The history of the painful consequences of decimating the environment for the sake of transporting goods should have a lot to teach us in the present day. As the backups at the ports cause interruptions to the supply chain, now is a great time for us to reevaluate the way we send and receive what we need for our everyday lives. What are some ways we can improve upon the systems we rely on today? What are some species that are currently in danger due to the way we do business?
At the LA Zoo, there’s plenty to explore in terms of conservation and preserving the species we have left. The Zoo is working to support LA’s Green New Deal and wants to create cleaner air in Los Angeles to help humans as well as maintain LA’s biodiversity.
Their commitment to educating people and connecting them with nature from all walks of life has led to partnerships with multiple organizations. They are constantly working to combat species endangerment.
California Southern Mountain Yellow Legged Frog is now one of the most rare frogs in the world and LA Zoo staff members meticulously learned about their habitat so they could recreate it.
Only hundreds exist in the wild but in the LA Zoo, thousands hatch every year and they are brought out into the wild to proper, undisclosed locations. Without LA Zoo’s efforts, this species would be extinct. The LA Zoo’s work also includes efforts to maintain local habitats and fighting against animal trafficking.
We are witnessing the Earth’s 6th mass extinction in the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history. Record breaking wildfires burned more than 4 million acres of our state. It’s time to not only do our part to learn more and volunteer to help conservation efforts, but to call upon our local leaders in the public and private sector to take responsibility for the changing climate and our role in it.
Use the this link to learn more about upcoming conservation opportunities or to donate to the cause.
Merry-Go-Round & Visitor Center
The Griffith Park Visitor Center is close to many iconic sights within the park. In this area you’ll find the Merry-Go-Round, Los Feliz Adobe, and an amphitheatre.
On November 13 the park is celebrating its 125th Anniversary, and on that day you’ll find many opportunities to connect with local changemakers right here.
Craig Torres will be at the amphitheatre speaking about the symbiotic relationship between native species found in Griffith Park and the Kizh/Tongva people and what happens when that relationship is severed by man made actions.
LA Compost will be located directly west of the second parking lot of the Merry-Go-Round. LA Compost builds and facilitates composting communities throughout LA County. Their work includes building the infrastructure and the awareness to help turn food waste into a resource.
If you do this ride on November 13, the Greek Theatre will be hosting a play at 2pm exploring the 1933 fire and the devastating impact of forest fires.
For centuries, controlled fires were an indigenous practice to steward and manage the lands of Southern California. SoCal is a place where fires are nature's way of starting anew, and would naturally occur every 10 to 20 years. Native plants have adapted to this cycle, known as fire ecology. Some native plants in this area, such as the Ceanothus, can't germinate without fire.
Indigenous stewardship practices were banned in exchange for a policy in favor of extinguishing fires as soon as they happen, allowing natural combustible material to accumulate. The Big Burn of 1910 affected Idaho, Montana, Washington and British Columbia and burned three million acres. As a result, in 1935 it became government policy to extinguish all forest fires by 10am the following day.
If combustible material (known as fuel load), is allowed to accumulate (such as when fires don't burn every 10 to 20 years), fire can become huge devastating events with extremely high temperatures. In turn, hot fires with large amounts of fuel can contribute to mudslides.
To learn more about indigenous stewardship practices and fire, click below:
The last stop on this ride before returning to the starting point is the Griffith Observatory. Currently open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until 10pm, the observatory offers free telescope viewing when the skies are clear and the building is open. Aside from being a national leader in public astronomy, the Griffith Observatory is also an iconic gathering place. What better place to take some time to reflect about the cosmos and our place in the universe.
We are living on such a small, beautiful planet in such a massive Universe where we are blessed just to have life. We can see the stars and the cosmos but we still have not found proof of life elsewhere in the universe. We must conserve the life we do have on this planet and actively work to combat climate change to maintain the amazing biodiversity we have and to continue to create a cleaner, safe environment for generations to come. It’s important for us all to do our part to push our elected leaders and those at the helm of private companies to do more for us and the planet.