The Fairy-esque Wonderland of Ferndell Trail

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.

A brown sign stands at the front of a lush green space. The sign reads "Ferndell" in white letters.

My back, as I walk through the gates of 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!

Tall trees provide shade over a pathway featuring faux wood railings.

Myself, wearing a cream straw cowboy hat, yellow shirt red text reading "Red Dog California Cold Beer Restaurant Cocktails Good Vibes" and featuring a woman diving into a martini glass, and jean shorts, standing in front of a rock grotto.

A small waterfall peeks from under hanging greenery.

Myself, wearing a cream straw cowboy hat, yellow shirt red text reading "Red Dog California Cold Beer Restaurant Cocktails Good Vibes" and featuring a woman diving into a martini glass, and jean shorts, standing on a bridge over a small stream, surrounded by a variety of green plants.

A large wooden sign reading "The Trails Pies Sodas Coffee"

Exterior of The Trails, a small wooden building with a line of people waiting to order.

Yellow script hand-painted on wood reads "Tea Loos Leaf" in yellow letters.

A stone wall holds up a variety of trees that loom over a pathway along a stream.

Lilies sprout up from a beautiful green environment.

Myself, wearing a cream straw cowboy hat, yellow shirt red text reading "Red Dog California Cold Beer Restaurant Cocktails Good Vibes" and featuring a woman diving into a martini glass, and jean shorts, standing in front of a rock grotto.

Lush ferns sprout up, giving Ferndell its name.

Myself, wearing a cream straw cowboy hat, yellow shirt red text reading "Red Dog California Cold Beer Restaurant Cocktails Good Vibes" and featuring a woman diving into a martini glass, and jean shorts, standing on a bridge over a small stream.

A stream winds through a lush forest filled with a variety of green plants.

A small waterfall cascades over rocks that are surrounded by ferns.

A turtle peeks out from the stream.

Myself, wearing a cream straw cowboy hat, yellow shirt red text reading "Red Dog California Cold Beer Restaurant Cocktails Good Vibes" and featuring a woman diving into a martini glass, and jean shorts, leaning against a railing made of concrete but made up to appear to be a log.

A bridge crosses above a pathway that is lined by greenery on either side.

A rock grotto with a dripping waterfall.

Ivy clings to the side of a concrete bridge.

Trees make for a shady pathway along a stream. Faux logs made of concrete make up a railing to guide hikers.

Myself, wearing a cream straw cowboy hat, yellow shirt red text reading "Red Dog California Cold Beer Restaurant Cocktails Good Vibes" and featuring a woman diving into a martini glass, and jean shorts, standing in front of a rock grotto.

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.

A bronze plaque reading "A Gabrielino Indian Site. Archaeological Evidence indicates that Indian Vilages were located in Ferndell Canyon. Declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 112 by the Cultural Heritage Board Municipal Arts Department City of Los Angeles."

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.

What more places to explore within Griffith Park? Check out the blog posts below!
Hollywood Sign
Bronson Canyon & Caves
Griffith Park Merry-Go Round
The Old LA Zoo
Walt’s Barn
The Autry Museum of the American West

Sources
Kudler, Adrian Glick. “Restoration Underway for Griffith Park’s 1920s-Era Ferndell Tourist Attraction.” Curbed Los Angeles, 16 April 2013. Accessed 20 June 2021.
Vendetti, Jann. “The Scoop on Ferndell: Griffith Park’s Enchanted ‘Nature Museum’.” Natural History Museum. Accessed 20 June 2021.
Walking the Fern Dell Stream.” Friends of Griffith Park, 17 December 2015. Accessed 20 June 2021.

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