For this Glendale-born hiker, the climb to Bee Rock will always have a place in my heart. Parental accounts vary, but this hike, undertaken at a very young age, may well have been The Trailmaster’s very first trek.
Long a Griffith Park landmark, Bee Rock (1,056 feet), located on the western end of Griffith Park, offers particularly great vistas of the San Fernando Valley, Verdugo Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains. On particularly clear days, eastern panoramas can take in the San Bernardino Mountains, including Southland highpoint, Mt. San Gorgonio.
I returned for a hike into my history recently on a lovely Sunday morning—not all that clear because of a marine layer, but blessedly cool and comfortable for a July day in LA.
Bee Rock was exactly how I remembered it as a kid. 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.
Can’t get used to the summit, though. The summit is fenced-in (comfort perhaps to the acrophobic, annoying to the rest of us) and graffiti-marred.
On the way back I took Old Zoo Trail through the old Los Angeles Zoo Grounds. Wow, this is the centennial year for the Los Angeles Zoo, which was built in Griffith Park in 1912. When the new LA Zoo opened in 1965, the old enclosures and cages were left behind and a picnic area constructed. Some of the more handsome walls and grottoes were built by the Depression-era WPA workers and County relief workers in the 1930s
The confines for the animals back in the day in LA were tight to say the least and we can only hope that the art of zoo-keeping has progressed enormously. Bears, lions and monkeys lived out their days in habitat nothing like that in the wild.I suppose the point of leaving behind the old zoo is to compare it with the newer zoo located about two miles north, and to point out advances in the zoological sciences.
I was never much into zoos when I was a kid—even though my folks took me numerous times to the LA Zoo. But I sure remember that hike to Bee Rock and all those other hikes in Griffith Park. And I remember all the animals I’ve seen in the park—the squirrels, coyotes rabbits and snakes—roaming free, as God intended.