December 04, 2010

Photo Essay: Hollywood's Most Famous Caves

LA's parks are full of historical sites - be they vestiges of grand old estates, or former shooting locations for a variety of film and television productions. I have yet to hike to the former set of M*A*S*H, but I know it's there and it's on my list.

Today I returned to Griffith Park, whose huge expanse is full of hiking trails and nooks and crannies often left unmarked on maps, to visit the Batcave.

Bronson Canyon is situated in the southwestern section of Griffith Park, not far from Beachwood Canyon. The main trail, Brush Canyon Trail, is located at the end of the road past Camp Hollywoodland, where hikers share the land with horses and equestrians (presumably from the nearby Saddle Ranch Hollywood horse ranch).

I hiked a steep path for a while, but after having walked three miles around the Hollywood Reservoir, I was unimpressed with what looked like just another canyon. So I turned around and returned to the parking lot for the real draw of my trip: the Bronson Caves.

A young family was well on their way up the path when I heard their young son (who must've been six years old) say, very seriously and excitedly, "This is where they shot the Batman television series of 1966!"

Indeed, I was on the right track.

This is exactly where Adam West and Burt Ward were shown driving out of the Batcave in the TV show that ran from '66-'68. It looked a little more overgrown back then.

The caves themselves are presumed to be manmade, largely because this area of the park was home to the Los Angeles Stone Company's rock quarry.

They have been featured in a number of Hollywood productions, including Little House on the Prairie, Fantasy Island, and even Star Trek: Voyager.

The main tunnel is actually quite small - high enough to stand in, but short enough to be crossed in less than a minute. It is flanked by a couple of other openings that serve as crawlspaces whose only way out is also the way in.

On the other side of the tunnel, once again, the Hollywood Sign peeks out at you.

Griffith Park felt very much alive today, though overcast skies and a chill in the air reminded me that it's winter. But the grass was greener than I'd ever seen it, and there were plenty of signs of life - including some tracks in the mud from what I suspect was a mountain lion.

Yet another highlight of the hidden city known as Los Angeles.

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