When many people think of Hollywood, their thoughts instantly jump to things like movie sets, Rodeo Drive, and the lifestyles of the rich and famous. And while the area lives up to the reputation for being the birthplace of some of the greatest movies every made, it also is home to some noteworthy outdoor adventures.
It may sound like a cliché and touristy thing to do when visiting the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills area, visitors can’t leave without at least a sighting of the world-famous Hollywood sign. Originally built as an advertising tactic for a housing development, the sign has become an iconic landmark of the United States. Many tourists simply opt for seeing the sign from a tour bus or car window, but for those looking to get some movement in and explore the nature in the area, make sure to add the hike to the Hollywood sign to your L.A. itinerary.
There are multiple hiking trails that will take you up to see the sign, providing lots of options based on the intensity and length you’re up for. If you have a few hours and are looking for a pretty good work out with some decent elevation gains for a “vacation hike”, there is a hike that not only provides a viewpoint of the sign from a vantage point below, but also gives hikers the opportunity to go behind the sign for a unique perspective.
The best address to put into a GPS for this trailhead is 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068.
There are two parking lots located by the trailhead. Make sure to prepare for this hike by bringing sunscreen, a hat, good shoes and ample amounts of water. While this hike may not seem extremely long in terms of distance, it is quite steep on the way up and has very little shade, making for a hot trip in summer months, so starting early in the morning is a good tactic.
Your legs will be feeling the incline on the way up and the scenery is a pleasant surprise from what you’d expect to find on what can be considered an “urban hike”. The sweeping views of the hills and valley below, dotted with green vegetation are unexpected for an area so close to such a large city. On a clear day, the view of the Los Angeles skyline in the distance is picture perfect.
One option for this hike is to simply hike to a landing that provides excellent views of the sign above. To do that portion is roughly two miles each way. The end of this trail leaves off at a landing that offers a clear view of the Hollywood sign and makes for a great photo opportunity. While this is a fantastic vantage point with the Hollywood sign in one direction and downtown Los Angeles in the other is great, consider adding a little extra mileage to your trip and hike up behind the sign. An offshoot trail that you can add onto this hike provides one of the most unique viewpoints you’ll get in the area. While it’s one thing to get the traditional front-facing view of the Hollywood sign from a distance, standing behind it is a completely different experience.
You’ll continue back the way you came, as if heading back down the trail to the parking lot, and when you arrive at the paved Mt. Lee Road, you’ll turn there to go toward Mt. Lee Summit. This will add approximately another mile up behind the sign and then back down, making the complete hike to the front facing viewpoint and behind the sign about six miles roundtrip. You can also go up behind the sign and then stop at the landing for the traditional view after if you prefer to swap the order.
Upon reaching the sign you’ll notice it is fenced off but walk a few more feet up past it and just a little bit ahead is a landing where you can tower behind the sign. Seeing this famous sign from above is a bit surreal after seeing it so far in the distance while driving around Los Angeles.
Be sure to be respectful of the area and don’t hop the fence in an attempt to recreate any iconic movie scenes. Consequences and fines are in place for those who trespass, so please be sure to follow the rules of this area.
Due to the fact that a good portion of the return trip of this hike is downhill, you’ll find that it is much easier and quicker on the way back.
While the Hollywood sign hike may not be a secluded, backcountry hike, it is a memorable one that will provide a unique look at one of America’s most iconic landmarks, as well as some incredible views of the Los Angeles skyline. It’s the perfect hike when you need a break from the infamous standstill L.A. traffic, but still close enough that you can be back in time for a nice dinner in the heart of the city.