Tips for Hiking to the Hollywood Sign
You can hike to the Hollywood Sign via a few different trails in Los Angeles, including Griffith Observatory. This post offers our recommendations for the shortest route, easiest & best paths, what to avoid, and other tips for hiking to the Hollywood Sign. (Updated March 14, 2021.)
More accurately, this is how to hike to the DOOWYLLOH sign, since the peak directly above and behind it is the final destination of all paths. 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.
Let’s get start with a quick update as of March 2021. After several trails closed on a temporary basis, most have now reopened, including the Mt. Hollywood Trail and Brush Canyon Trail. To my knowledge, only the Cahuenga Peak Trail remains closed. Face masks and social distancing are required on trails in Los Angeles County at all times.
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. This is because Mount Lee’s peak is adjacent to this is the Los Angeles Communications Center, which makes much of the area around the Hollywood sign strictly off limits.
Even trying is going to result in a costly fine and being immediately swarmed by the LAPD. Trust us on that one–we’ve seen it happen. 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. Quickly. Most likely, this will occur before you even get over the fence.
With that caveat out of the way, let’s move on to the hike itself, which leads behind the Hollywood Sign. Unfortunately, one of the best routes to the Hollywood sign, via the Beachwood Canyon trailhead, is now closed to the general public. (If you see this as an option elsewhere, that info is outdated.) This is because “not in my backyard” neighborhood groups composed of residents who moved to an area with public access to the Hollywood Sign 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.
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 (which is still temporarily closed as of March 2021), 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!), 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!
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!
Do you know if a rideshare service will drop off right by the Deronda drive gate? If not, can you recommend the best/closest place for them to drop off?
We did the Deronda Gate hike last week and loved it. We got dropped off at the gate in an Uber and then walked back down to Beechwood Drive and had lunch at the Beechwood Cafe (as we didn’t have cell service up at the top). Can highly recommend both the walk and the cafe! 🙂
Thanks for the article! Can you show me where the “Lost Angels Studio” on Google Map? From the map, I see part of the map shows two Mulholland Highway and one leads to Mt Lee Dr and the other one leads Deronda Dr. How do I get to the inside Mulholland Highway to the Deronda Dr and gate?
Great post – thanks for all the tips! We hiked there last night; started at the Charlie Turner Trailhead, and hiked out to Dante’s Point. Took the short detour over to the Mt. Hollywood Summit, then continued on the 3-mile trail out to Mt. Hollywood drive, and onward to the back of the sign at the Mt. Lee summit. On the way back, we took another short detour down Mt. Lee Drive to see the viewpoint of the front of the sign, near the Deronda Drive gate. On our way back to our car, we just took the Mt. Hollywood drive route, since it was dark. This was a great option since we got to go through the Roger Rabbit / BTTF tunnel. Overall a fantastic hike with great views all around and lots of variety. I think if we did it again, we’d take one of the easier/simpler routes. But I’m glad we explored some of the hills and other viewpoints this time. Thanks again!
Hi Tom – excellent tips for the hike! We want to do the Sunset/Night Hollywood Sign Hike, and it seems the Mullholland Highway option is the shortest. If we start from Lake Hollywood Park, how long do you think the hike will be to behind the sign?
Hi, Awesome tips
I think we would be taking a lyft or uber to reach the sign.
We would be visiting in April 2019
What would be the best time to visit it? Sunrise or Sunset.
How many hours we should spare for this activity, If taking a uber to deronda drive from hollywood?
Hey, how do you do this trail to catch the sunrise? Are both trails impossible to reach at night? Thanks for this post!
For sunrise, starting from Griffith Observatory might be your better/only option, as that trail is definitely open.
I’ve never tried the other trails at sunrise, but my guess is that the gate is locked–as that’s what the sign says.
Thank you very much for tips. We’re coming to L. A. in September. We’ve been to Griffith Park several times, but never hiked to the Hollywood sign. Now I think we should😊 And with these tips I think we’ll go for for the route via Canyon Lake Drive as we will be driving a rental car.
Have you seen many rattlesnakes there? 😱😂
I’ve seen zero rattlesnakes, but there are signs all over the place, so I’m guessing they’re around.
Awesome tips for Hiking the Hollywood sign. Got some new tips and hope these will help during my next campaign.