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Adventure Review: Griffith Park’s Ferndell

Nature butt

Ferndell Nature Park is one of our go-to adventure spots. Just off of Los Feliz Boulevard, it’s close, free, and easy. Also, the entire area is shaded by ancient trees, making it a good ten degrees cooler than the rest of Los Angeles and a joy on hot days. Ferndell is a beautiful network of paths, hikes, bridges, and bubbling brooks, plus a little playground and great café called Trails. It feels a little magical and unlike anywhere else in Los Angeles.

When Willa was a little Little, I loved wearing her and hiking all the way up to the Griffith Park Observatory from Ferndell. It gave me an incredible sense of accomplishment and helped me shed a bit of weight. Now that she’s a slightly bigger Little (walking and running), she loves exploring the paths, getting a little dirty, climbing on the play structure, and enjoying a bite at Trails Cafe.

We usually park right near the entrance at Los Feliz and Fern Dell Drive, so that Willa can see and say hi to the bear statue that greets all the visitors. We then make our way up the path about a quarter mile to the play structure.



chilling at the bottom of this weird slide, Ma.


If you want to be ambitious, you can continue all the way up (either on the right or left path) to the Griffith Observatory, although I wouldn’t recommend this if your baby is walking free range. It’s a tough hike and not good for babies unless they are safe in your carrier.

Across the street from the play structure is Trails Café, a fantastic little snack stand with sandwiches, breakfast, and wonderful coffee. Please note that it is CASH ONLY and CLOSED MONDAYS; there is no greater drama in this world than promising a good meal to my daughter and not being able to follow through because there’s no cash in my wallet.

Trails really caters to families: There is a large circle of hay bails for jumping, books for reading, open space for running, and everyone is understanding about, you know, screeches and squeals. The food is hearty and healthy and there are lots of vegetarian options as well.

After breakfast, we go back across the street to further explore the paths. The verdant brooks fascinate Willa endlessly. So do the Big Girl Benches. By the time we get to the car, she is exhausted and ready to sleep. We love this adventure because there are no set hours of admission, which means we can have a nice full morning before nap.



One Comment Post a comment
  1. Mindy #

    Thanks for sharing, Leonora! We were just there with Aurora on Sunday, but we’ve never followed this exact plan. We may give it a try next time. It really is a little gem in the big city. And the vegan pies at Trails are superb.

    October 18, 2011

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