Elysian Park near downtown L.A. is a huge space containing great networks of trails and commanding broad city and mountain views. This introductory walk might make you a regular visitor.

1. Begin at the trailhead and walk uphill, past the big swing gate, into a grove of eucalyptus trees. Follow the wide dirt path as it winds up and around the hill.

2. Enjoy the views of Taylor Yard, Mt. Washington, the L.A. River, the new Rio de Los Angeles Park and Forest Lawn. But don't leave the main trail as it approaches the peak and passes a large water tank on your right.

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3. At the peak is a small bower of shade and succulents, with benches, known as Marian Harlow Memorial Garden. Continue past this as the trail descends and begins to give off big views of the downtown skyline. (This is also a popular place to watch fireworks from Dodger Stadium; people drive in and park a short distance away.)

4. At the trail's first major intersection, you could take a shortcut and head straight downhill to Elysian Park Drive, passing behind Grace E. Simons Lodge, a facility dedicated to the journalist, activist and community organizer instrumental in protecting Elysian Park from development. If you're not ready to stop, walk straight on. The trail continues to descend slightly into an overhang of eucalyptus, pine and oak.

5. Walk past a yellow swing gate, where the trail ends, and make a hard left past another yellow gate and continue onto a closed section of Elysian Park Drive. Watch on your right for a boccie ball court, a fitness circuit and a children's play area on your way back to the parking area.

6. Near the end of this loop you'll find picnic tables, barbecue pits and public bathrooms.

charles.fleming@latimes.com

Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles."


The stats

Distance: 2.5 miles
Duration:
1 hour
Difficulty:
2 on scale of 1-5
Details:
Dogs on leash are OK, but not bikes. Ample parking on Stadium Way, Elysian Park Drive.