I know it’s a very popular trail and that many people already know about it, but isn’t that a good thing? They must be onto something. The Old Zoo Trail is the perfect hike for those looking for a relatively easy hike in a more park-like environment. I like this hike because it’s easy for our puppy while still being long enough to give her and me a workout. The ideal place to park for this hike is the big parking lot at the Old Zoo Picnic Area. This parking lot is huge, so it’s almost never full (and you’ll recognize it as the parking lot for the LA Haunted Hayride at Halloween, too).
The Trail, Itself
From there, walk back out to the road you entered the parking lot on, and start walking up the hill. This road becomes the trail. Then, follow a slight right once you are prompted to by a sign, and you’ll eventually see the buildings of the old zoo. You will find an old metal animal cage that people love to play in. It’s a great place for a photo opp. From there, continue on the trail, and you’ll see the fences and enclosures of the old zoo habitats. Sometimes, people break the fences so you can explore the upper areas of the old habitats. But, even if they’re fully closed off, the trail takes you around to the front of them. Walk around the trail surrounding the enclosures. You will wind up at the old animal habitats. They are easy to spot, as they look like rock facades. Climb into some of them, and you can explore the back feeding areas. They are now beautifully and eerily covered in graffiti. It’s a fun little hidden secret to explore.
From this point, the trail is all park sidewalks. Bring lunch and sit at one of the picnic tables here. Play on the playground. Or just follow the sidewalks back to your car.
I, personally, love the Old Zoo Trail as it is a quicker, easier hike that gives you a glimpse into the past of Griffith Park. So, it scratches just a bit of that adventure itch, too, without being too intense.