A Hike to an Illegal Teahouse High in the Mountains

I’ve gone on some pretty fun hikes with my pal Jeff. We’ve crossed the Bridge to Nowhere, ascended to Inspiration Point, and walked the very same road Charlie Chaplin once famously walked. A few days ago, we went on another fun hike, to find a beautiful piece of art high up on a mountain. And we got awesome (and smoggy) views along the way!


Our goal was to find a little Japanese teahouse in the middle of Griffith Park, the enormous, mountainous park in the heart of Los Angeles. (It’s most famous feature is the Hollywood Sign.) A group of artists placed the teahouse there about a month ago, and it has a neat story, which I’ll share later on.

We met at the Greek Theater, an open-air music venue at the bottom of the mountain, and started our hike up. First stop: the Griffith Observatory.


I’ve hiked to the observatory before (lots of cool pics here), but we had a ways to go, so we didn’t hang out there long. Our trail continued higher and higher, eventually to our second stop, a little picnic area on top of a peak. (I’m pretty sure it was Dante’s Peak, but not positive.) You can see the Observatory on the right in this photo, which shows exactly how far we went on this leg:


From there, we continued on, and a little over an hour after we started, we found our third and final stop, the teahouse, perched on a bend on the trail, overlooking the park and, beyond, the city of Glendale.


That’s Jeff at the bottom taking a picture of me taking a picture of the teahouse.

The Japanese-style teahouse is only about a month old. It was placed by a group of artists, who built the entire thing from wood scavenged from the park. Not a single tree was cut down. A large part of the teahouse was made from the last two redwood trees in Griffith Park, which died in a 2007 forest fire.


It’s absolutely adorable. Well-made, and in a stunning location. There were small wood shingles and pencils, and instructions to make a wish for the city of LA. I did exactly that.


Once you hang your wish on a peg, you ring a bell that’s hanging inside. Here’s a close-up of my wish (in the center):


The whole thing was peaceful and lovely and a great destination for a hike…


…so of course the city took it down. Two days after we visited. The artists that built it placed it in the park illegally, erecting it in the middle of the night. It was meant as a gift for the city, but unfortunately there’s protocol for placing art in city parks, and none of it was followed in this instance. The good news is that the city didn’t destroy it – they’re going to do something with it, they just haven’t announced what. Hopefully it will end up back in Griffith Park, ideally in that same location, but we shall see!

After hanging out at the teahouse, Jeff and I started back, taking a different, longer route. At one point we ventured into the brush, following a very narrow, barely-used trail. Parts of it were washed out, but we found our way, and saw a coyote in the process (I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to snap a photo).

At another point, we took a shortcut by scrambling down a steep embankment, which was a lot of fun and resulted in a ton of dirt in my shoes.

We made it back to our cars almost exactly 2.5 hours after we started – and according to my heart rate monitor, I burned over 1,000 calories!


Jeff got a lot more data off his gadget.

  • Distance: 5.34 miles.
  • Active Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes (that means we spent 25 minutes hanging out at our three different stops)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,253 feet (about 200 feet taller than the tallest building in LA, which is 75 stories tall)

A great way to spend a weekend morning!

Keep it up, David!


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7 Responses to A Hike to an Illegal Teahouse High in the Mountains

  1. Jeff Dinkin says:

    So glad we went when we did, or we would have missed it. Fun morning!

  2. What a delightful story. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 I hope that the city puts the house back in that spot. It really does fit the surroundings beautifully.

  3. Sarah says:

    Fun hike!!

  4. Danielle says:

    Love the idea, I hope it comes back as well. Love seeing LA through your experiences.

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