Tips for Hiking to the Hollywood Sign

We’ve hiked to the Hollywood Sign via a few different routes from various points in Los Angeles, including Griffith Observatory. In this post, we offer our recommendations for the shortest route, the best route, paths to avoid, and some other tips for hiking to the Hollywood Sign.

Pictured above is the final destination of all paths, the top of Mount Lee, directly behind the Hollywood Sign. Immediately adjacent to this is the Los Angeles Communications Center. From here, you can see to Downtown Los Angeles and beyond, making this one of the most iconic views in California, and not just for the Hollywood Sign.

When we’ve posted photos from our hikes to the Hollywood Sign in the past on social media, the most common question in response is how to get a photo in front of the Hollywood Sign. Unfortunately, that is not possible except from a distance. You cannot get anywhere near the front of the sign from the top of Mount Lee. Even trying is going to result in a costly fine and being immediately swarmed by police. Trust us on that one…

This whole area is closely monitored by the LAPD because of its use as an emergency broadcast communications center. There is always a police cruiser parked inside the Communications Center, and there are security cameras and warning signs all over. If you’ve ever spent 30 minutes up at the Hollywood Sign, you’ve no doubt heard the police come over the loudspeaker when someone thought the rules didn’t apply to them or they wouldn’t get caught.

If you try to climb the fence to get to the front of the Hollywood Sign, you will get caught. Most likely, this will occur before you even get over the fence. The officers up there deal dumb teens and tourists wanting selfies in front of the sign all day, every day, and it shows. They always seem to be in a surly mood (tough to blame them!). So, unless you want a ticket and/or to be arrested, don’t try anything stupid.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s move on to the hike itself, which leads behind the Hollywood Sign. Note that this information is accurate as of August 2017. We last hiked to the Hollywood Sign for the Solar Eclipse, and verified which routes were open then. I note this because there is currently a lot of turmoil about access to the Hollywood Sign.

Earlier this year, an injunction was obtained by Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables to block access via the Beachwood Canyon trailhead. Prior to that, “not in my backyard” neighborhood groups composed of residents who moved to an area with public access to the Hollywood Sign had feigned outrage over the surprising popularity of said public access.

These groups have fought for years to restrict access to the Hollywood Sign, and it’s not just residents on Beachwood and Hollyridge Drives. Every residential street with access points to the Hollywood Sign has groups that have fought access. They have put up signs, managed to get Google Maps to redirect those using the app to Griffith Park, and have managed to get police to waste time patrolling these neighborhoods.

Access to the Hollywood Sign remains a tense public issue in Los Angeles, and further changes are likely on the horizon. We’ll update this post if/when that occurs.

For now, we pretty much recommend avoiding all of the neighborhood access areas for parking, anyway. To an extent, the residents have a point: the infrastructure in these areas is simply not suitable for modern traffic and tourist parking demands. It’s barely suitable for any traffic. If you’re not used to driving on these roads, it’s probably best to avoid the unpleasant experience of blind corners and hairpin turns.

Plus, you can avoid all of this completely and still have a short hike to the Hollywood Sign, which we consider a win-win scenario. This brings us to our first option for hiking to the Hollywood Sign, which involves parking on Canyon Lake Drive (the Google Maps address is: Hollywood Sign, 3115 Canyon Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068).

The upside to this location is that this is a spacious two-lane road, and there are actual (free!) parking spaces lining the road beginning at the above-listed address. This is also near Lake Hollywood Park, which is a nice place with great straight-on views of the Hollywood Sign. If all you want is a straight-on photo and no hike, this is the best option.

This is also the shortest and easiest hike to the Hollywood Sign. From this street parking, you’ll walk back towards Mulholland Highway, staying on Mulholland Highway until you pass behind the Deronda Gate (pictured below).

Do not turn down Ledgewood or Rockcliff Drives. If you’re consulting Google Maps, it will route you down one of those, not realizing that you can walk the dirt path between “the Last House on Mulholland” and “Lost Angels Studio.”

It’s about a 10 minute walk from the first parking spaces on Canyon Lake Drive and behind the gate on Deronda Drive. If you’re so inclined, you can park closer on Mulholland, but I really would not recommend it.

The road is really tight, and parking is extremely limited. Many areas have no parking signs, and other spaces are by permit only. Save yourself the headache, and just park on Canyon Lake Drive.

The second option in this same general area is Deronda Drive (Google Maps: Hollywood Sign Hike Start, Deronda Drive, Los Angeles, CA), which will have you walk through the gate instead of walking behind it. While there’s a keypad on this gate, it operates on a timer that automatically unlocks between sunrise and sunset. (You can exit through the gate after sunset–just not enter.)

Parking on Deronda Drive is a hassle, with the same sort of permit and no parking restrictions as on Mulholland Highway. This is the best option when you’re using Uber or Lyft to get here or just walking from Hollywood. If you have a car, the infinitely better option is parking on Canyon Lake Drive.

The Deronda and Mulholland Highway hikes are identical to one another once you get past that gate. In both cases, you’re walking along Mt. Lee Drive for about ~30 minutes. Sometimes you’re on pavement, sometimes you’re on dirt. This hike is easy to moderate, and is slightly over a mile long (making it the shortest hike).

At the very beginning of the route, there’s also a large clearing where you can take up-close photos of the front of the Hollywood Sign. This is the absolute closest you can get to the front of the Hollywood Sign without breaking the law.

For its combination of simplicity, short duration, and straight-on views of the Hollywood Sign in addition to the behind-the-sign perspective atop Mount Lee, this is our top pick for the “best all-around” hike to the Hollywood Sign.

From Griffith Observatory, the easiest route is starting on Mount Hollywood Drive, and continuing alone until it meets with Mulholland Trail, and then continuing on that. Alternatively, you can start out at the Charlie Turner Trailhead, taking that trail past Dante’s View before meeting up with 3-Mile Trail, which then meets up with Mount Hollywood Drive, and so on.

There are a variety of other options from Griffith Park, which you can plot out via this map. Some of these trails wind around and offer great views of the Valley. We once took the North Trail (on accident) and found the views it offered to be exceptional. You’ll also find that Google Maps has these trails on it, but it doesn’t always route via the most direct path–which is how we ended up on the North Trail.

If you’re already at Griffith Observatory, which is a Los Angeles must-do that we highly recommend, consider hiking to the Hollywood Sign from there, via the Charlie Turner Trailhead. Although this hike is around 3 miles each way depending upon the route you take, it’s the most enjoyable hike. There’s plenty to see, it’s a moderate hike, and it’s low-hassle (aside from the time). If time and hike duration are no issue, this is the option we recommend.

The final stretch of all hikes is more or less the same, taking you behind Mt. Lee. As such, you’re facing Burbank. This means you have some interesting views (WORLD’S LARGEST IKEA!!1!!), including of the Walt Disney Studios, pictured above.

This stretch of the trail, like much of it, is paved and is a literal road. Every once in a while, you might encounter emergency vehicles or employees driving up to the Communications Center. This makes it easier for hiking, but you’re certainly not getting in touch with nature on this hike.

Okay, so those are our two favorite options for hiking to the Hollywood Sign. There are still a few other options we should cover in case you want to try something else. First, Bronson-Canyon Park (Google Maps: Bronson Canyon-Griffith Park, 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068). The upside to this is that there’s parking, restrooms, and caves nearby. The downside is that the route is deceptively long (over 3 miles!) and now that Beachwood access is closed, nearly half of the hike is walking away from the sign.

Next, there’s Wonder View Trail (Google Maps: Wonder View Trail Head, Wonder View Drive, Los Angeles, CA). If you’re physically-fit and don’t care about the front view of the sign (or will stop to see it from Canyon Lake/Lake Hollywood), this is a good option. The hike is about as short as the Mt. Lee Drive hike, and offers nice views of the Valley the entire route. Personally, I feel the Mt. Lee Drive route offers a better diversity of views and is easier, but to each their own.

Be aware that all of these hikes are through ‘urban wilderness.’ You may not associate Los Angeles with perilous wild animals, but you’ll see warnings for snakes all over the place, so there’s that. You might also encounter our homie P-22, who is basically the mascot and guardian of Los Angeles.

Overall, I think hiking to the Hollywood Sign is an incredibly fun experience that’s well worth doing. It’s also not nearly as touristy as you might expect, likely due to the challenge presented by parking and locals’ efforts to block access points. These hikes are among the most enjoyable in Los Angeles, with nice views along the way. To be honest, the backside of the Hollywood Sign is almost a footnote at the end of this, as the sweeping panoramic view of Los Angeles from the top of Mount Lee is truly exceptional. Just don’t do anything stupid…unless you want to get a ticket.

If you’re planning a trip, check out our Ultimate Guide to Los Angeles or our California category of posts. For even more things to do, The Best Things to Do in Los Angeles: 1001 Ideas is an exceptional resource, which is written by other locals. If you enjoyed this post, help spread the word by sharing it via social media. Thanks for reading!

Your Thoughts

Have you hiked to the Hollywood Sign? If so, which route did you take? Did you enjoy the experience, or was the end result a letdown? Any additional tips to add that we didn’t cover? Would you do it again, or do you think it was a ‘one and done’? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

101 Things to Do in Southern California
The eBook is 51 pages long, featuring 75 photos, and (obviously) 101 things to do in Southern California. If you want a copy of this totally free 101 Things to Do in Southern California eBook, all you need to do is subscribe to our newsletter and you will receive a link to download the eBook.
We respect your privacy.

1 reply
  1. Jennifer J. Trego
    Jennifer J. Trego says:

    Hi Tom,
    Awesome tips for Hiking the Hollywood sign. Got some new tips and hope these will help during my next campaign.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *