Griffith Observatory Loop – LA !

LA is not an easy place to ride a bike, it’s a place where you have to be seen and you have to know where you’re going. It’s a city with a lot of bike lanes but poor connections to different parts of the city. Less than .6% of LA residents commute via bicycle; it’s not surprising as most of the roads have been built with automobiles in mind and very little infrastructure has been placed into developing safer bike lanes and the roads themselves (LA is the mecca of potholes and wheel eating cracks). Surprisingly, back in 1897 Los Angeles built a Cycle-Way from Pasadena to downtown LA that stretched over 9 miles long, imagine that. Unfortunately it was taken down because it never made a profit and there was interests in putting in a railway line for trolleys.

Rating and Strava Link are located below

As crazy as the drivers and roads are in LA, there are still over 300 miles of bike lanes in Los Angeles that can safely take you through many different neighborhoods of Los Angeles. I’m still learning my way around, but this route is one that I’ve done many times so I figured I’d share it with you.

This particular route is very well known for most cyclists living in LA. If you’re coming from East LA your goal is to pretty much get to the Fern Dell entrance on the south side of the park where the loop around the park begins. Your best connections coming from the east side will be Sunset and Franklin. If you’re coming from the west side use Santa Monica Blvd to connect up to Fountain and then Franklin, which both have “dedicated” bike lanes (but poorly marked).

I will advise, as usual, wear something colourful and make sure your front and rear lights are working, this for anywhere you ride, but especially in LA.

I would rate this ride a 7.5/10 – there are no dirt sections on this ride.

LA is a really unique place in the sense that you can get a taste of the entire world in LA, unfortunately most of the connections to these places were made for motorists.

Luckily for us cyclist, there are still sanctuaries all across this urban sprawl, Griffith Park being one of them. Many of the roads around this park require autos to drive at a slower speed making the area fairly safe for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have a gravel bike, there are plenty of trails to hop on, some don’t allow bikes but are rarely patrolled. If you do hop on a trail be aware of your descents, it is very common to see a horse person, if you do, best thing is to just turn around or come to a full stop and let them pass. I’ve been told the horse people are not the friendliest and call the Park Rangers more often than not. Horses are really cool though :]

Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory are both named after Griffith J. Griffith, yes that’s the same first and last name. In a nutshell, the guy enjoyed the view and decided to put up an observatory so the public could enjoy as well. Unfortunately you can’t see stars all that well in LA anymore because of the smog but you can get a pretty good view of how big LA really is and it’s very popular for full moons.

Before the Western invasion of the continent, the Tongva people lived on this land. Their origins are from the Nevada area and they would normally be referred to their specific tribe names, Topanga, Cahuenga, Tujunga and Cucamonga. If you’ve lived in LA for a while, some of those names probably sound pretty familiar to you as they are the names of Los Angeles streets.

The Tongva people were very much in tune with the natural world and lived on a nonlinear timeline. The Tongva also believed that humans we’re not at the apex of nature but we’re rather just another strand to the web of life, a feeling you may get as a cyclists when you realize your place next to a zooming semi-truck. Not too many specifics are known about them but one thing is known for sure though, the surrounding area looked much different. That’s one thing about LA, its monstrosity is beyond comprehension, it’s a colossal city. If NY is “The Concrete Jungle”, then LA is “The Concrete Ocean”, and the ocean is much bigger than the jungle my friends.

The loop around Griffith is your standard Griffith ride. The beginning of the loop starts with a big climb that takes you to the observatory and then loops you back around through the tunnel and upwards toward the Hollywood sign. The initial grade is pretty mellow but it does get above 7% in certain parts. From there you will descend down the backside of the park and connect onto Zoo Dr. From there it’s a straight shot along the north east side of the park with a few nice rollers. In order to avoid Los Feliz traffic you’re going to have to keep an eye out for a slight merger via a short dirt path into the Los Feliz neighbourhood’s. Here you will encounter another big climb back to toward the observatory. You will once again ride through the tunnel and make your descent down Fern Dell and that pretty much wraps up the ride. The loop is only 16 miles but provides fun descents and nice rolling sections on the north side. You might even see a celebrity, the artist Moby once hiked right past me, it was pretty cool see him in the wild.

Strava Route

I would rate this ride a 6.5 out of 10 , the most difficult part being getting to Fern Dell and descending down the back side, which has many potholes and cracks.


  1. Nice ! i liked the information about LA and Tonvga peoples. Plenty more routes down here in LA Come back and try a few of our mountains !

    1. Thank you Ben! I’m actually currently living in LA, if you ever want to show me one of your favourite routes I’d love to hop one on!

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