Trails Sign by Susan Manlin KatzmanTalk about a fork in the road. Metaphorically speaking, the best fork in the road in Griffith Park is found at The Trails, a popular coffee/snack cafe and almost obligatory stop before or after hiking.
As the lucky of us know, Griffith Park is a sprawling 4,210-plus acres natural and landscaped park situated in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range, smack in the middle of Los Angeles. Considered the “largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States,” Griffith Park sports a 53-mile network of trails, fire roads and bridle paths (complete with ridges, canyons, creeks, and fabulous variety of flora and fauna). The park attracts local hikers as well as savvy tourists seeking exercise in the midst of California nature and sunshine. And the Trails cafe is a well-known secret stop that hits the spot for breakfast/lunch/snacks before hiking or after.

The Trails sits across the street from the end of the park’s Ferndell trail and the trailhead to the Griffith Observatory’s west trail loop.
If you are a novice wanting a wonderful and not-too-taxing L.A. hiking/snacking experience, here’s what you do:
Find the entrance to Griffith Park at the intersection of Los Feliz Boulevard and Fern Dell Drive (a sign and bear-cub statue marks the spot). Drive into the park and park in the first place you find on the street (no meters—hurrah!).

Griffith Park Sign
Now look for the Ferndell sign (on the left, about a block inside the entrance). Ferndell is a charming, quarter-mile path bordered by a man-made stream, shaded by sycamores and surrounded by a lush green garden that includes an awesome variety of ferns. Walk through the iron gates and enjoy.Ferndell Sign by Susan Manlin Katzman


Ferndell Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman
When you come to the end of Ferndell (at the playground) you have several choices: either turn left and walk across the street where you will find The Trails, or veer right and start the loop trail leading to the Griffith Observatory. The 2.5 mile west trail loop rises in elevation to offer overviews of the Observatory, The Hollywood sign and the L.A. basin, before curving back to Ferndell and The Trails.

Trails at Griffith Park Collage by Susan Manin Katzman
So, what’s special about The Trails?

The cafe is actually a small wood cottage/hut where one usually stands in long lines to order at a window. Seating is outdoors at a variety of picnic tables set under an umbrella of shade trees.

FRONT AND BACK of the Trails Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman

Hikers like the cafe’s totally laid-back, dog-and kid-friendly atmosphere; the outdoor rustic woodsy setting; the coffee and the food.

Menu the Trails Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman

As to the latter, the avocado and the egg salad sandwiches, quiches, cookies and pies are particularly popular as are the Eggs in a Basket, which, I am told, are made like this:


Sliced breadEggs in a Basket by Susan Manlin Katzman
Pesto (made from basil, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, salt & pepper, but no nuts)
Grated Parmesan
Finely chopped rosemary
Finely chopped chives
Fresh ground pepper
Cut 3-inch circles from the slices of bread. Generously butter a muffin tin. Fit each bread circle inside a muffin cup, molding bread to make a “basket.” Brush each bread basket with a generous amount of butter. Drizzle 1 teaspoon pesto inside each bread basket. Crack an egg into each buttered basket. Drizzle more pesto over each egg and then sprinkle with grated parmesan, rosemary, chives and pepper. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until the egg is set as you desire, usually 11 minutes for runny centers to 13 minutes for firmer.

Eggs in A Basket from The Trails by Susan Manlin Katzman