Like Griffith Park, I had not hiked Elysian Park until very recently. It seems so silly that these places are so close to me and I’m just now figuring it out! Elysian Park is the second largest park in Los Angeles (Griffith Park being first) and the oldest. It is known to locals as the place you can have a picnic before heading to a Dodgers game. Until a few weeks ago that is all I knew about it. That and it was a good way to cut between downtown and Echo Park when traffic on the 110 is a disaster. Turns out Elysian Park is very big and a fun place to check out.
Elysian Park has a long history but was renamed “Elysian Park” (Elysian is derived from the Greek work paradise) from Rock Quarry Hills when it was dedicated as a Public Park back in 1886. Today the park includes numerous places to picnic along with a number of different playgrounds for children. It is also home to the CHAVEZ RAVINE ARBORETUM and GRACE E. SIMONS LODGE both of which I have yet to find. Although I think I was above the arboretum on Riggins and my last hike. Finally you will find the Los Angeles Police Academy (I had friends that got married in the courtyard once and it was crazy beautiful) and the Barlow Respiratory Hospital (which specializes is respiratory diseases but creeps me out and would make the PERFECT background for an insane asylum in a movie … it actually probably has been used for that).
I had read about a “loop” hike that was 4ish miles long and last week Riggins and I decided to give it a try. After failing to find the trail head we gave up and parked where there just happened to be a trail. There are over 10 miles of trails in the park so it was quite possible we had not wandered onto the correct one. Be that as it may, we eventually got to the original hike only to take a wrong turn and end up doing a mini-loop. Driving around after our failed hike I found where the trail crossed one of the roads so Monday Riggins and I decided to start there (to be honest I got lost taking side streets to the park and ended up in some secluded section and started a hike there until I frightened myself and turned around hightailing it back to the car). From this point we actually made it about 2 miles before where to go came into question. We took the most obvious path that really had to be correct but turned out wrong. Going around the side of the mountain like a billy-goat did make for some amazing views of Los Angeles and I only almost slipped once avoiding a tumble-down the side with my fancy footwork and screaming. Of course we got lost and eventually had to take roads to get back to where we started. I estimate we walked about 5.5 miles. That may not seem like a lot to you but when it is hiking up and down and you aren’t sure where you are and you REALLY have to pee it is a very long distance. Too long for Riggins who was pooping out on me for the last mile or so.
All in all I really liked the first 1/2 of our hike. It isn’t at all difficult and is a very well maintained path. There are lots of dogs (of course this is a public park and dogs should be on leash … no one had their dogs on leash) with very nice owners and a few joggers. It wasn’t until I crossed the road to the other side that things got a little dicey. Elysian Park isn’t among the nicest of neighborhoods and that side had a lot of trash and tagging happening (yes this is the same side the Los Angeles Police Department is on). I was pretty confident Riggins was going to bring me back a human leg or something and we would be the headline of the next days newspapers about the dog and woman who found a long-lost dumped body. At one point Riggins started gnawing on something that I decided looked like human beef jerky … this did not help me feel comfortable at all.
Even with the parts that would make a perfect location for a body dump Elysian Park is very pretty and worth checking out. I suggest you bring a friend and/or a big black dog for protection!
Source sites on Elysian Park history: