Bee Rock Map by Mark Chumley (click to enlarge)
Fern Canyon, Old Zoo, Bee Rock Trails: To Bee Rock is 2.4 miles round trip with 150-foot elevation gain

Long a Griffith Park landmark, Bee Rock (1,056 feet), located on the western end of Griffith Park, offers

"Hike Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills" pocket guide has two-dozen great day hikes. Visit The Trailmaster Store
“Hike Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills” pocket guide has two-dozen great day hikes. Visit The Trailmaster Store

great vistas of the San Fernando Valley, Verdugo Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains. On particularly clear days, eastern panoramas can take in Southland highpoint, Mt. San Gorgonio.

The beehive-shaped rock is a massive outcropping of sandstone. While such dramatic sedimentary formations are typical of what hikers encounter in Topanga State Park and in the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s all the more dramatic here thrusting up from the hills overlooking the metropolis.

In 1903, a half-mile dirt road was constructed from Crystal Springs to the narrow canyon at the base of Bee Rock and the landmark has been popular with hikers ever since. Griffith J. Griffith was known to lead his fellow City of Los Angeles Parks Commissioners up to Bee Rock to survey the scene.

Enjoy this classic walk in the park and, on the return trip, wander over and visit the site of the Old Los Angeles Zoo.

DIRECTIONS

Southbound on the Golden State Freeway (I-5), exit on Los Feliz Boulevard, turn left and cross the freeway. Turn right on Crystal Springs Drive, proceed 1.3 miles to an intersection. Turn left toward the merry-go-round parking lot. Ahead, this road is barricaded and you turn right into a large parking lot. Park close to the lot entrance. Northbound on the I-5, exit on Los Feliz, turn right, then another immediate right on Crystal Springs Drive.

Bee Rock Map by Mark Chumley (click to enlarge)
Bee Rock Map by Mark Chumley (click to enlarge)

THE HIKE

Walk up the paved road past the vehicle barrier. After passing a junction with Fern Canyon Nature Trail on your left, continue another 150 feet to a dirt road on the left. Leave the paved road for the dirt one (Fern Canyon Trail). Continue about 0.1 mile and, as the trail curves left, it meets Old Zoo Trail (a dirt road); bear right on this trail. After a bit of ascent, ob¬serve Bee Rock, looming high above you.

Old Zoo Trail leads north then west through Spring Canyon and on the slopes above the old zoo. Across a seasonal creek, the trail angles northeast to a four-way junction about 0.75 from the trailhead. Mineral Wells Trail is straight ahead. Bear left on Bee Rock Trail (a dirt road).

The trail ascends 0.25 mile then continues as a narrow path, curving northwest and southeast, then switchbacking south toward Bee Rock. (Stick to the main trail, and avoid narrower and steeper use trails). Follow the path to the top of Bee Rock.

Enjoy those vistas despite the intrusive fence then head back the way you came. At the junction with Old Zoo Trail, continue instead on Bee Rock Trail and descend to the old zoo grounds. Wander around the too-tiny cages and long-abandoned enclosures, then join a path a bit lower than, and parallel to, Old Zoo Trail, leading back to Fern Canyon Trail and the trailhead.

P.S. My pocket guide, “Hike Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills: Best Day Hikes in L.A.’s Iconic Natural Backdrop” is available from The Trailmaster Store and Amazon. You can also get a copy at the Griffith Park Observatory Store.