Wandering the Wisdom Tree Trail
Written by Elise Gray
Photos by Elise Gray
Wisdom Tree Trail
When you wake up in the morning, are you hungry for a hike? I usually am. One of my favorites for those brisk mornings is the 3-mile Wisdom Tree Trail, AKA Lone Tree or Tree of Life Trail. The first hike I ever did in Los Angeles was the Widsom Tree Hike. But since the trail isn’t the shadiest it's not good for hot days, which is why I recommend it as a morning hike. The hike takes 1.5-2 hours depending on how fast you hike.
Tips for the Wisdom Tree Hike
To make your trip successful, bring:
- Sunscreen and a hat
- Lots of water
- Proper footwear
- Pen or marker
- Camera for instagram worthy moments
- Patience, determination, and a big heart
How to get to the Wisdom Tree Trail
Simple, just plug in "wisdom tree" or "wonder view trail head" on your GPS and go! When you arrive, you will be driving through residential neighborhoods so don’t be put off. If you follow your GPS correctly it will lead you to Wonder View Drive.
For parking, just stop along Lake Hollywood Drive and then head back up the street on foot. Make a right on Wonder View Drive towards to the dead end and follow the dirt road.
Hiking the Wisdom Tree Trail
Once you’re past the gate, keep following the dirt road. Once you reach the power line tower, you’ll be just a hop, skip, and a hike away from The Wisdom Tree. Follow the single trail, which splits to the right.
As you ascend, you will see what used to be a plaque paying tribute to all the generous ladies and gents who have contributed to the preservation of the trail. But the plaque itself is no longer there for reasons that are unknown to me.
I jumped over it anyways because well—it’s there!
And so begins your journey. This trail has a demanding incline, so make sure that you bring a lot of water with you. Dehydration is a recipe for disaster!
This trail is shockingly steep, so be prepared! Up until recently there was no shrubbery to grab ahold of to help you up. Thanks to the recent rains the trail is no longer as shade-less as it once was.
Along the trail you may see people stopping to catch their breath or to let others pass by. You'll also see people stopped along the trail, soaking in the amazing views of Griffith Park and Downtown LA.
At about 1.5 miles, you will have reached your destination.
There will be a sign with a separate option taking you west towards a few other trails such as the Hollywood sign. In order to make it to the Wisdom Tree, please continue east at the ridge. You’ll see the tree poking out amidst some shrubbery, with just a feet steep drops and careful footing, you’ll be at your destination.
At the top of Cahuenga Peak, you will see one isolated pine tree. The tree has many names. It's referred to as The Tree of Life, The Giving Tree, and even The Magic Tree. But it's most commonly known as The Wisdom Tree.
Now, why does it have all these names you ask?
Simple, as you see in the pictures above, there are dozens of stacked rock formations and each formation hides a note from a fellow hiker. There's also a large ammo box that sits at the foot of The Wisdom Tree, full of dozens of journals filled with hundreds of positive messages. Usually the box comes equipped with pens or pencils, however it's also smart to have one on hand just in case.
The origin of the journals and messages is not entirely clear. Some think that the box of messages originated from a man leaving behind notes of wisdom from his dying mother. But most people agree on two things:
- Mark Rowlands is responsible for leaving the original journal box beneath the tree years ago
- The Wisdom Tree is the last standing tree and a survivor of a wildfire that occurred in 2007
Regardless of its origins, it can be agreed that The Wisdom Tree stands for positivity. The end product of the tough hike is hundreds of positive messages from strangers who came before you. Whether or not you're going through a struggle in your life, the Wisom Tree will leave you feeling uplifted and with more clarity in your thoughts.
About the author
Elise Gray is a writer based in Los Angeles. She has a travel bug embedded in tangled curls and a taste for wanderlust. You can find her roughing it on trails with her beloved dog, Carrot. For additional information regarding her adventures you can follow her on Instagram @elyseflakyss or check out her portfolio for professional inquiries.