(The author at Griffith Park; the park’s merry-go-round, image via DigLounge)
After missing my Monday morning zumba workout at the gym, I remembered my love of hiking and headed over to Griffith Park. It’s been more than 15 years since my days as an avid hiker. I always loved reaping the amazing physical, mental, and social benefits of this low-impact form of exercise. I parked near the merry-go-round and chose an easy basic trail. The trail settles into a slow and steady path that curves and climbs with amazing scenery throughout. There are over 4,300 acres to explore! Taking a hike here can be slow and steady, or it can be a cardio blast at a fast uphill pace. The choice is yours. (More hiking tips after the jump.)
(A sunset view from the Griffith Park Helipad)
As I reached Five-Points, a flat resting area where the trails go in five different paths, I headed to my right and chose a trail towards the Griffith Park Helipad. A rush of good feelings hit me, and I kept heading up, avoiding large rocks and keeping my eyes open for snakes and lizards. Once I turned around and headed down the trail, I felt great! The mental benefits of hiking are subtle and can clear the head, chasing any emotional uglies away.
As a beginner, I started hiking with the Sierra Club that meets in the upper merry-go-round parking lot (7pm; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays). This is free, and open to the public, with six different levels of hikes. It’s also a fantastic way to meet all sorts of people. The hike lasts for two hours, and I recommend bringing bottled water and wearing good shoes or boots. Now that the weather is clearing up, this is the perfect time of year to try it out.