Made in the Shade: Ferndell in Griffith Park

Last Sunday our family headed up to the valley for Grandma Shirl’s birthday. But before that, due to our early rising (when does the time change again?!), we made a quick stop off at Griffith Park for a short and shady stroll through Ferndell.

A view up from the trails at Ferndell in Griffith Park.

A view up from the trails at Ferndell in Griffith Park.

C walking through Ferndell in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

C walking through (and chasing T down in) Ferndell in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

Ferndell in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

Ferndell in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

Of course, we’d just seen a TV show about Ferndell, which prompted us to schedule a time to visit sooner than later. Taking an extra hour on our trek to the valley this lovely Sunday morning (not to hot, not too cold, no rain either) seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out this corner of Griffith Park that we’d not yet visited with T. I hadn’t been before either, and while C had visited previously, it’d been about 30-something years since he’d last been himself.

T treks on at Ferndell in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

T treks on at Ferndell in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

While a hike through Ferndell might appear to be ideal on a hot summer day under the canopy of various tree and plant species (including about 50 types of ferns, thus the path’s namesake), definitely go early. Ferndell definitely is a shadier and cooler spot of the park than most others, but it’s still better to visit Griffith Park during either early-morning hours or on a non-summer day if you want to be out longer than an hour or so.

The boys heading under the viaduct that crosses over Ferndell in Griffith Park. Notice the very slight upgrade to the path here.

The boys heading under the viaduct that crosses over Ferndell in Griffith Park. Notice the very slight upgrade to the path here.

Coming back down Ferndell toward the entrance at Los Feliz Blvd. and Fern Dell Drive. That's the good news: The walk back is downhill (not that it was long or rigorous, but still it's nice to look forward to!).

Coming back down Ferndell toward the entrance at Los Feliz Blvd. and Fern Dell Drive. That’s the good news: The walk back is downhill (not that it was long or rigorous, but it’s still nice to look forward to!).

While the path is relatively easy for most and quite wide throughout (I believe it might even be ADA-accessible, as I don’t recall any steps and there are hand rails throughout the paths), starting from the entrance off Los Feliz does grade uphill slightly, so wear comfortable walking shoes and remember a snack and water if you plan on being here a while, especially if you have the kiddos with you.

The Trails Cafe off Fern Dell Drive in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

The Trails Cafe off Fern Dell Drive in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

The Trails Cafe is a self-service, walk-up style eatery in Griffith Park.

The Trails Cafe is a self-service, walk-up style eatery in Griffith Park.

A savory scone (top) and sweet brown sugar and toffee cookie of some sort (bottom) from The Trails Cafe in Griffith Park. I could have sworn the cookie was a scone also, but nope, just large, crumbly, and buttery (and very good).

A savory scone (top) and sweet brown sugar and toffee cookie of some sort (bottom) from The Trails Cafe in Griffith Park. I could have sworn the cookie was a scone also, but nope, just large, crumbly, and buttery (and very good).

I thought our snack stop was a break, but my boys just couldn't resist the tree stumps and hay bales at The Trails Cafe.

I thought our snack stop was a break, but my boys just couldn’t resist marching on and around the tree stumps and hay bales at The Trails Cafe.

Or, if you don’t want to carry a snack pack, the earlier you visit Ferndell in the morning, the better it is for grabbing yourselves a sweet treat and hot cup of coffee at The Trails Cafe at the end of the path (exit the enclosed section of Ferndell at the top of the hill to the left; turn right; cross the street; and you can’t miss it). The Trails Cafe is also open through lunch should you find yourselves out later in the day than we were.

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Ferndell is a gorgeous, green, and glorious part of not just Griffith Park but of Los Angeles overall. It’s hard to find such natural greenery year-round in Southern California, but with it being fed by a natural spring, Ferndell stays green most of the year compared to other LA-area hiking destinations. Oh, and there are sticks and rocks for the kids, too. How could I forget that?!

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Ferndell is at Los Feliz Blvd. and Fern Dell Drive. Turn into the Western entrance of Griffith Park at Fern Dell Drive and you will see the Ferndell entrance off to the left side. Park on the street (follow all signs). Hours are 6 a.m.-to-10 p.m. daily. The Trails Cafe is open Tuesday-through-Sunday 8 a.m.-to-5 p.m. (open some Monday holidays, call for more information).

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