Hike in Griffith Park, film in Griffith Park—two very popular activities! Griffith Park’s rugged terrain, so beloved by hikers has also long been a favorite and convenient location for filmmakers. Year after year, the park ranks among the most popular film locations in Los Angeles.

Griffith Park was by far the top filming locations in Los Angeles in 2014 for film sites, with 322 production days according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. Movies filmed in the park in 2014 included “Atlas Shrugged, Part III” and “The Perfect Guy” and TV productions include the Amazon Studios series “Transparent” and Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele.”

Griffith Park: Top of the list for hikers and filmmakers in Los Angeles
Griffith Park: Top of the list for hikers and filmmakers in Los Angeles

I was happy to see another popular hiking locale, Elysian Park, ranked number 5 on the Top Ten list of most popular film locations. Look for scenes of Elysian Park in such productions as “Hit the Floor,” “The Voice,” and “Chosen.”

Ever since pioneer silent filmmaker D.W. Griffith (no relation to park founder Colonel Griffith J. Griffith) filmed the battle scenes for his epic “Birth of a Nation” in the park in 1915, Griffith Park has been a popular location for movies.

A film fan, The Trailmaster had a blast writing "Hike Griffith Park & the Hollywood Hills"
A film fan, The Trailmaster had a blast writing “Hike Griffith Park & the Hollywood Hills”

“A rock is a rock, a tree is a tree. Shoot it in Griffith Park. This was an oft-repeated dictum of cost-conscious movie producers during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and resulted in many companies heading for the “wilds” of Griffith Park. As those who love to hike Griffith Park can easily imagine, the brushy hills of the park, laced with bridle trails, were a particularly popular locale for Westerns.

If you hike Griffith Park, you know it has a lot of different “looks”—and with moviemaker magic can be made to mimic locales around the world. By now, virtually every nook and cranny in the park has appeared in a commercial, film or TV show. Production crews love to shoot scenes here, particularly because the park is so close to studios in Burbank and Hollywood.

For a film fans who hike Griffith Park, it’s fun to hike past Griffith Observatory and recall scenes from “The Terminator” or that 1955 James Dean classic, “Rebel Without a Cause.” Or hike to and through Bronson Caves, used in that campy sci-fi flick, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” the John Wayne western, “The Searchers,” and as the Bat Cave in the Batman TV series of the 1960s. The HOLLYWOOD Sign has been featured in dozens of films, beginning with “Hollywood Boulevard” in 1935 and including “The Day of the Locust,” “The Italian Job,” “Earthquake” and “Shrek II.”

Film On, Hike On.
–The Trailmaster