Hike to Haunted Table 29 in Griffith Park
This 6.8-mile (round-trip) loop in northern Griffith Park is supernaturally enticing: four peaks, panoramic views, and … ghosts. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt, but if you follow the step-by-step directions below, this strenuous trek through the less-visited north end of Griffith Park is well worth the effort! Just bring plenty of snacks and water, long trousers, and a hat. Trekking poles also help during some particularly gnarly stretches.
You’ll feel like you’re deep in the wilderness, but the trail never journeys far from main park roads, and there’s cell reception all the way. Views of downtown LA, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Griffith Observatory, and Burbank surround you as you make the arduous journey up Mount Chapel, Baby Bell, Mount Bell, and Taco Peak. Feel free to brag, because getting up those peaks is no easy task. You’ll be dealing with exposure, hidden paths, steep rocky scrambles, and then … restless spirits.
After summiting all four peaks, a detour will take you to one of LA’s most infamous haunts: Picnic Table 29, where two young lovers, Rand and Nancy, lost their lives on Halloween night in 1976. According to legend (and legend is always accurate, right?), they were enjoying an intimate moment on top of the table when a giant tree came crashing down on them, killing them both. Some say their ashes were scattered here at the site where they spent their last moments together.
Later, when park officials attempted to remove the tree, scary things happened: Bone-chilling laughter filled the air, temperatures dropped suddenly, voices were heard saying “leave us alone,” and haunting messages were left on vehicles bearing the warning “next time you die.” One park supervisor decided to ignore the warning and returned to try again, only to be found dead the next morning. The tree is still there.
Is the table really haunted? Find out for yourself. Then finish the loop back out through the canyon.
The trail descends into the canyon steeply via a set of slippery switchbacks, passing by an old wooden bridge, an abandoned pool, and the Boy Scout Camp. The trail throws in a few more grueling uphill stretches before finally bringing you back to your car. You’ve earned your return back to the land of the living!
TRICKLESS TREAT: Head to Salt & Straw in Studio City on Ventura Blvd., 15 minutes from the trailhead, for some spooktacular ice cream! Five Halloween-inspired flavors are available, ranging from fun and simple to just plain weird. Feeling brave? Try Creepy Crawly Critters, a matcha ice cream filled with toffee-brittle mealworms and chocolate crickets (yes, real bugs!). Or Dracula’s Blood Pudding, made with actual pig’s blood—but thankfully, cocoa and spices are also in the mix. Try all five flavors if you dare—tasting flights available!
Take CA-134 to the Forest Lawn Dr. exit and park in the dirt lot adjacent to the Travel Town Museum at 5200 Zoo Dr. Dog-friendly!
Your Treasure Map to Table 29*The trail begins just past a yellow fire hydrant. Head left across the open space and begin hiking along the fire road that parallels Griffith Park Dr. Keep Forest Lawn on your right.*
The trail eventually becomes a singletrack, and you’ll see a “No Horses Beyond This Point” sign. The trail angles sharply to the left before meeting up with Mt. Hollywood Dr.
Cross Mt. Hollywood Dr. and hike up the dirt path on the opposite side of the road, continuing straight until you meet up with the Toyon Trail, roughly 1 mile from the start of the trail. Head uphill past a giant red metal pipe on your right, and electrical towers to your left.
Follow the dirt path along the fence until you reach the gate near the fenced-in construction yard. Continue until you reach an intersection with the Mt. Hollywood Trail and make a right.
When you reach the paved Vista Del Valle Dr., make another right, leading to a T-intersection with Mt. Hollywood Dr. Head left to pick up the fire road that angles up to the right.
The road curves around Mount Chapel before ending on the west side; from there, look for a rocky path behind the water tower and find your way to the summit.
After summiting, look for a “trail” heading down the southeast side of the peak (you should have a clear view of Griffith Observatory as you descend) and follow this until you reach Mt. Hollywood Dr.
Down the road to the right you’ll see a fire road heading up to the left; follow that until you reach a spur trail on the left. Take the spur through the shrubs to the summit of Baby Bell, which is marked by a pile of rocks.
Head back down the spur to rejoin the fire road and follow for about 100 feet until you reach another spur trail on the left. Follow this straight up for approximately 0.1 mile until you reach the summit of Mount Bell.
Head down the peak’s east side to reach the fire road again. Then curve around a wedge of land to reach a trail climbing up the wedge to the top of Taco Peak.
Head down a steep trail on the southeastern side of the peak. Then head right to follow the dusty path paralleling a metal pipe to reach the fire road (Mt. Hollywood Trail) again, and head left.
Shortly you will reach a T-intersection marked by a sign on the left and a large rock on the right next to another fire road; this is the Eckert Trail. Follow it for approximately 0.2 mile until you reach Vista Del Valle Dr. Head left to reach a junction with Mt. Hollywood Dr. Make a right on Mt. Hollywood Dr. Haunted Table 29 will be on your left. Congratulations!
Go back the way you came to meet back up with Vista Del Valle Dr. and head left until you see a set of stairs on your left. Take these down until you reach the water tower, and then look for a steep, overgrown path obscuring what was once another staircase on your left.
Follow the steps down into the canyon and take the steep switchbacks down to the bottom.
Head left until you reach a broken wood footbridge. Don’t cross the footbridge—it isn’t safe—but instead carefully make your way across the ground next to the bridge. Continue along until you reach an abandoned swimming pool, which is part of the Griffith Park Boys Camp, and follow the path next to the pool down into the canyon.
After a few more switchbacks, you’ll reach the rest of the Boys Camp. Follow the main road past Amir’s Garden until you near the intersection with Griffith Park Dr., and then head left on the Mineral Wells Trail fire road, which parallels the road.
Head straight, ignoring all the spur trails to the sides. After reaching the Mineral Wells picnic area, continue following the trail until you reach the other side of the landfill. Follow the chain-link fence along the paved road until you reach another fence, and then head left on the dirt path just to the side of that set of fences.
Head uphill on the soft dirt trail until you reach the service road. Turn right and follow until it intersects with Griffith Park Dr.
Cross the road and pick up the Rattlesnake Trail to the left of the compost facility and head up until you reach the T-intersection with Skyline Trail. Then follow Skyline Trail to the left. Continue following the trail up and down until it reaches an intersection at 6.2 miles from the beginning of the hike, with views of Travel Town below.
Head right at the intersection until you reach the bottom of the canyon and then head right on Griffith Park Dr. Follow the road until you reach the parking lot.
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