Portions of Griffith Park are still accessible after the fire that burned more than 800 acres in May, but it’s not the same these days. You can’t just drive up, park and scramble all over the place. And you won’t be able to until at least deep into this winter.
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But there is an alternative. It’s in a land seemingly far from Los Feliz, but you may have passed it while taking Secret Route No. 47 to LAX: Kenneth Hahn Park, in Baldwin Hills on La Cienega Boulevard.
Think of Hahn Park as Griffith Park Jr. Sure, its seven miles of trails is a fraction of the G’s more than 50, but the going at Hahn is comparably scenic and exerting. It’s an agreeable stretch of green that offers great views of the city. There is an expansive lawn, circled by a stretch of trail, suitable for pickup soccer or barbecues. The scene is similar at both parks, and the people watching and general accord among patrons is about the same.
There are also a fishing pond, playgrounds and baseball diamonds. But Hahn Park’s greatest asset, like Griffith’s, is its view of Los Angeles. A sandy trail from the parking lot leads to a drop-off with a vantage looking north — as opposed to the southern views most folks in the Hollywood-to-downtown paradigm are used to. Rather than staring into the infinity of South L.A. and beyond, Hahn Park presents the basin as an arena delineated by the Santa Monica Mountains. When seen from Griffith Park, the groups of high-rises in Century City, Hollywood and downtown are mere speed bumps as the eye races toward the horizon. But from Hahn, they’re cast in a more connected perspective against the mountain border. Los Angeles emerges as a place with a beginning and an end. And even when it’s hazy, you can see clear across to the observatory.
4100 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (323) 298-3660. Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.