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Views from Glendale Peak are tribute to a tireless trekker

Follow Henry's Trail in Griffith Park to see a visionary's vistas.

January 26, 2003|John McKinney | Special to The Times

Glendale Peak in Griffith Park may not be a name many hikers remember, but the views are unforgettable. The panorama from the summit spans from downtown L.A. to the San Gabriel Valley to the sea.

The views of the city of Glendale are excellent too. This Glendale-born writer likes to climb the peak occasionally to check out the old hometown.

Glendale Peak sits in the shadow, literally and figuratively, of Mt. Hollywood and remains overlooked by most hikers. Most maps don't even show the peak, which is about one mile east of Mt. Hollywood in the southeast corner of the park.

What little recognition it does enjoy, it owes to late Sierra Club leader Henry Shamma. He led hikes up Glendale Peak and in other parts of Griffith Park, and he worked tirelessly to maintain the park's trails and gardens. After his death, Sierra Club members and park officials dedicated Henry's Trail, which leads to the summit of Glendale Peak.

Hikers wanting to follow in Shamma's footsteps have two ways to go. The most direct route begins at the Vermont Canyon tennis facility. To get there from U.S. 101, exit at Vermont Avenue and drive north a couple of miles. Keep driving as Vermont Avenue becomes Vermont Canyon Road. Less than a mile later, you will reach Commonwealth Canyon Road. Turn right and drive two-tenths of a mile east to the entrance for the tennis facility, on the left. Park in the lot below the tennis courts and begin on the trail leading north between courts.

Walk a quarter of a mile to an unsigned junction with Aberdeen Trail. Turn right (east) on the wide path, which bends south, then east again.

The trail dips into Aberdeen Canyon before climbing to a junction with paved Vista Del Valle Drive. Just before this junction, at a green shed, take a sharp left onto what is signed as Bridle Trail but labeled on some maps as Hogback Trail. You will climb west, then north, for a quarter of a mile to a junction with Henry's Trail.

Follow Henry's Trail along the ridge to the peak, then return the same way you came.

Ambitious hikers can stay on Hogback Trail instead of turning onto Henry's Trail. The narrow ridge leads to Dante's View and the shoulder of Mt. Hollywood. Hogback is one of my favorite trails in the park, but it is steep, narrow and, for some occasional hikers, surprisingly difficult.

A longer option is to start the hike at Griffith Observatory. The observatory is closed for renovations, but the trail heading north toward Mt. Hollywood is still accessible and open. Follow this well-beaten path to Mt. Hollywood and Dante's View. Eventually you reach Hogback Trail, which you can follow east three-quarters of a mile to Henry's Trail and Glendale Peak beyond.

See more of John McKinney's tips at www.thetrailmaster.com.

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