Ferndell Nature Walk – Griffith Park
Ferndell (AKA Fern Dell) Nature Center is a little slice of heaven. Tucked away just off Los Feliz Blvd in the heart of Los Angeles, this hidden gem is a kid’s dream; from lush foliage and trails, to streams and aquatic life, this place has it all. Access is easy, and the location provides a little something for everyone.
My wife stumbled across this place by accident while looking for a place in Griffith Park to take our 3 1/2 year old daughter to run around a bit. Parking is available right off Fern Dell Dr, and the entrance is located at the corner of Fern Dell Dr and Black Oak Dr. Besides a small “Ferndell” sign at the entrance, you’d never know this place existed. I’ve only ever been here on weekdays, and the place is generally pretty empty. You’ll see a few runners/joggers, families taking a walk, and hikers heading up towards the Griffith Observatory as you begin your journey down the path. This area is generally pretty safe aside from a few car break-ins and the occasional odd “characters” you run into every now and then. As soon as you enter the nature center, you are immediately transported to a different world. Dense foliage, huge sycamore tress, and over 50 species of fern can be found along the trail as it winds through Griffith Park. Film and TV fans will be thrilled to know that this location was used to film several episodes of Star Trek, as well as a few movies.
The trail is set parallel to a man made brook, which is quite low due to the severe drought in Southern California. Hopefully El Nino comes as promised, as I would love to see this place filled with water and as lush as it could be. If you are walking with kids, take time out to look into the water and explore… you’ll see goldfish, frogs and even turtles.
About .25 mile up, the trail passes under the street and continues up to a clearing and intersection of trails after about .4 miles. There is a nice little (and I mean little) play structure with slide for the kids, while the adults may opt to continue up one of the trails that leads up to the observatory.
At just under a half a mile to the playground, this “hike” is perfect for families looking for an afternoon of fun outdoors. Take your time exploring and walking down the trail, and finish it off with some playground time and a picnic. Our 3 year old hates walking, and has never once complained about going on this hike. In fact, she affectionately refers to this place as “The Magical Forest.” Pretty accurate description I’d say. Definitely on our list of fun things to do with kids in Los Angeles.