For stunning and unforgettable views, you must hike to the Griffith Observatory at sunrise. Trust me; it is worth it! Waking up at 4 am to go for a hike? It may sound daunting, exhausting, and maybe not your ideal way of spending your weekend morning.
However, once you reach the top of Griffith Observatory, all of those thoughts disappear. You are awarded spectacular views of the pacific ocean, Downtown LA, and Mount Hollywood. An experience and decision that you will be so thrilled that you made.
If you have been to Los Angeles, California, or you are thinking about visiting in the future, chances are you have at least seen a picture of the iconic dome-shaped Griffith Observatory. This well-known icon of California offers a free entrance to the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, exhibits, telescopes for stargazing, and gorgeous panoramic views of Los Angeles.
The Griffith Observatory opens its door to visitors every Friday to Sunday and is closed from Monday through Thursday. To find more information on Griffith Observatory’s current exhibits and times, you can find that information here on their website.
Exploring inside the Griffith Observatory is not your only option of things to do. Besides being one of Los Angeles’s top cultural attractions, the Griffith Observatory sits on the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountain range.
This area is known as Griffith Park, which is covered with some incredible hiking trails. You could easily spend the entire day getting lost exploring the different trails on the chaparral-covered terrain in Griffith Park. Also, let’s not forget all of the epic and incredible views you will see along the way.
There is no shortage of incredible hikes, things to see and discover in Los Angeles, California. I lived there for an entire year for work and loved taking advantage of their 284 days of sunshine. I recently traveled there to visit a friend.
On my last day, we decided to plan a sunrise hike before my flight. Honestly, it was the best decision we made the entire weekend. I am here to share our experience hiking to Griffith Observatory for sunrise and why you should add it to your bucket list of things to do when visiting Los Angeles, California.
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Why Griffith Observatory is the Best Place to Watch the Sunrise in LA
1. No Crowds
Hiking at sunrise was a new and exciting experience for me. If you have not done it before, Griffith Observatory is the perfect opportunity.
The best advantage of a sunrise hike is there are no crowds!! We all know how busy and congested Los Angeles can feel at times, but hiking early in the morning eliminates all the people. We had the entire balcony of the Griffith Observatory to ourselves. How often can actually say that? Probably never!
2. Easy to do with Limited Time
There is so much to do and see in Los Angeles, it can be difficult when planning your itinerary. However, a sunrise hike to Griffith Observatory is the perfect addition to your trip or day in Los Angeles.
The trails and beautiful views that you will get from hiking Griffith Observatory are located within Los Angeles, so you do not need to travel far to get to it. Also, if you are visiting LA and on limited time, it is a quick and easy hike to do.
3. Spend More Time Outdoors
During your time in LA, you will quickly realize how much we locals love getting outdoors and just moving. Spending time in nature always makes me feel good. Breathing in that fresh air while also getting a sweat on is what I love to do.
Getting up at 4 am, with a hot cup of Mcdonald’s coffee, that warmed my hands as we navigated our route towards Griffith Park. It was so exciting! Once we arrived and found our way to the top of Griffith Observatory, it felt like this huge feat that my friends and I just conquered together.
4. The Views
Lastly, why you should hike Griffith Observatory at sunrise is the unbelievable views! As we climbed to the top, downtown Los Angeles sparkled in the dark beneath us.
As time went by, the sun slowly began to light up the sky in tints of blue, orange, and yellows. Then finally the finale, when the sun rises above the rugged mountains and onto Los Angeles. Your camera will be full of breathtaking images.
How to Hike to Griffith Observatory
Now that I have you intrigued, where do you begin to hike this thing? There are multiple trails and routes you can take to get to the Griffith Observatory. I suggest downloading AllTrails to find the best trail for you. However, I will share what we did, which I thought was an easy and direct option to the top.
Boy Scout Trailhead
We opted for the Boy Scout Trailhead, a .6 mile hike with an elevation gain of 383 feet to Griffith Observatory. There was free street parking available right outside of the trailhead.
Free parking, is another perk of arriving before the crowds. There is a small sign outside of the trail, next to parking spaces for the Greek Theatre. However, it can be challenging to see it at night.
Once you turn onto the Boyscout Road, you will notice the dirt trailhead on your right. That is where you will begin. It is a pretty straightforward hike. However, if you want a more detailed version of the Boy Scout trail, I recommend viewing this site
Must-Know Tips Before Your Hike to Griffith Observatory
- Check the time of sunrise: We gave ourselves about an hour and a half to hike the Boy Scout Trail, which gave us plenty of time to take pictures along the way. We arrived at Griffith Observatory 30 minutes before sunrise, which was perfect.
- How to capture the ideal sunrise: check the weather before you venture on your early morning hike. We are looking for clear skies and no rain.
- What to Pack: We are hiking in the dark here. You need to bring with you a headlight or flashlight to navigate the trail.
Also, I highly suggest pepper spray. You never know what you find in the California mountains, but Griffith Observatory Park is known for having coyotes.
- Wear Layers: It will be chilly before the sun comes up, even after you start hiking the trail. Pack light layers that you can easily peel off as the day warms up.
Such as this long sleeve pullover that you can tie around your waist after the sun comes up.
- Wear Your Hiking Shoes: Since you are going to be hiking in the dark, I suggest wearing hiking shoes or sneakers with a decent tread. These are my favorite hiking shoes and the sneakers I use to run dirt trails.
- GPS: This is an easy hike to do. I guarantee you will probably not get lost. However, if you are like me and sometimes have no sense of direction. I suggest downloading the map or taking screenshots of the trail.
Griffith Park: Where to Hike
After the sun has risen and you have explored the ground of Griffith Observatory. There is still so much to do and see in Griffith Park. And guess what? The best part is, it is still only 7 am!
Griffith Park offers numerous recreational attractions and activities for all ages. Such as the Greek Theatre, museums, Griffith merry-go-round, and the Griffith Observatory.
Griffith Park is one of the largest parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States, with over 4,210 acres of land. After sunrise, we decided to take advantage of the early morning and all of the incredible trails at Griffith Park.
Starting at Charlie Turner Trailhead, which is right next to the Griffith Observatory. We hiked along the Mt Hollywood Trail towards:
- Berlin Forest
- Captain’s Roost
- Dante’s View
- Mt Hollywood Summit
Know Before You Go: You can get amazing views of the Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory. However, if you want to hike to the famous Hollywood, sign it is about 4 miles from the Charlie Turner Trailhead.
Where to Next in California?
California has so many other beautiful and incredible locations to explore. If you are in northern or southern California, let me help you find your next road trip or weekend vacation.
In Conclusion: Griffith Observatory Sunrise Hike
After experiencing Griffith Observatory at sunrise, it has completely changed my outlook on early morning hikes. Who needs sleep after seeing these views?
Even if you are not a morning person, you will find Griffith Observatory to be the perfect option for your first hike at sunrise. A Griffith Observatory sunrise hike is an easy way to kick start your day of exciting activities or a last-minute thing to do before you leave Los Angeles. Like what I did!