Griffith Park is perhaps one of Los Angeles’ greatest tourist attractions, as it has so much to offer. From museums to the observatory to the Hollywood sign and the miles of trails it has for pedestrians, equestrians, and cyclists, there is something for everyone. And while there are miles of trails, perhaps the most enchanting trail is Ferndell.
When you walk through the gate it is as if you’ve entered into a fairyland and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a sprite leap across the stream that runs under the lush canopy of greenery. Here small waterfalls pool into ponds populated with critters, benches offer places to rest and reflect, and dirt trails criss-cross a little brook with a variety of small bridges.
The natural spring that feeds the stream provided a built-in draw for those in the area (some even believed it to be the Fountain of Youth), and in the first half of the 20th century a variety of fern species were planted along the banks, giving the trail its name. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps, as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) added bridges and stone walls. The workmen resided in tents on site within Griffith Park during construction. In the 1960s Ferndell began to fall victim to vandalism, and by the 1980s it was in sad shape. Over the last few years Ferndell has been undergoing restoration, which it rightly deserves as it is quite a popular place for hikers and families.
A nearby playground makes it perfect for families, plus there is The Trails, a quaint little walk-up cafe, a perfect pitstop before continuing onto a longer hike, including a trail leading up to the observatory, or a post-hike bite!
Originally the Los Angeles area was home to the Tongva people, and the area of Ferndell was the location of a village named Mocochaunga. I was pleased to see a plaque, although using outdating language, recognizing the site.
Bask in the shade, enjoy the relaxing stream, and reflect on the history of Los Angeles, including its first people, at Ferndell. Pull off of Los Feliz Boulevard onto Fern Dell Drive and park along the street. A small gate and sign greet you. Typing in “Fern Dell Nature Trail” into Google Maps will give you directions.