After parking at the lower lot of the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, hike up the asphalt road until you reach the third dirt turn-off. You'll hike on the Old Zoo Trail
very briefly to reach the Fern Canyon Trail
, which you'll follow to the south (left). This is where the Beacon Hill Loop will begin. Once on the Fern Canyon Trail
, the dirt path will take you up the hillside among the brush. While climbing, you'll have great views of the San Gabriel Mountains on a clear day.
After hiking gradually uphill for a little over 1 mile, you'll reach the 5-points intersection, which sits atop the ridgeline. The Fern Canyon Trail
comes to an end here and you'll link up with the Upper Beacon Trail
, which begins at the northern-most edge of the 5-Points Junction and continues to the northeast. After some very gradual climbing and 2/10 of a mile of hiking along the ridge, you'll reach the top of Beacon Hill, which sits at an elevation of 1,001 ft. From here, you'll have fantastic views of Elysian Park, Silverlake Reservoir, Glendale, the Los Angeles River, and downtown L.A.
Once you've enjoyed the views atop Beacon Hill, you can turn around and follow the same route back to the 5-Points Junction. Once you're back at the 5-Points Junction, you'll follow the Coolidge Trail
, which begins at the easternmost trailhead. From here, you'll follow the trail as it gradually descends the hillside to the southeast. You'll hike on a series of switchbacks along the way and after a little over 9/10 of a mile you'll reach a juncture with the Lower Beacon Trail
, which diverges to the left.
Join the Lower Beacon Trail
and follow it as it trends north along the eastern hillside of Beacon Hill, momentarily switchbacks, and then heads north again while paralleling Griffith Park Drive. After a little over 6/10 of a mile, the trail will start to bend west. Continue hiking for 8/10 of a mile and you'll reach the end of the trail at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round to complete the Beacon Hill Loop.
Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store
Beacon Hill got its name for being the hill on which, during the early 20th century, a beacon served the Glendale Grand Central Airport by warning incoming airplanes of the high-standing Hollywood Hills.