Hollywood Sign Hike: The Ultimate Destination Guide

Everything you need to know about the Hollywood Sign Hike

The Hollywood Sign is an internationally recognizable symbol; seeing the sign in photography is one thing, seeing it while driving is another, but walking up to it and behind it is an entirely new experience. The Hollywood Sign Hike is a must do if you're in LA. The short hike takes you up close and personal with the Hollywood Sign. So close that you might feel the history radiating off it like heat.

 
Hollywood Sign view from behind the sign and downtown LA in the background

Hollywood Sign view from behind the sign and downtown LA in the background

 

History of the Hollywood Sign

The story of the name Hollywood comes from when a man was carrying wood one day. When asked what he was doing, he replied, "I holly-wood", meaning he was "hauling wood". The name stuck.

Hollywood is a lot of things. It's a neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles, it has a population of 120K, and it's the home of the U.S. film industry. It is also home to the iconic Hollywood Sign.

In 1923, the Hollywood Sign was installed to advertise a new housing development. It originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND". The sign was quickly ignored and left to rot. In 1949, the Chamber of Commerce contracted with the City of LA to repair the sign. During the repair, "Land" was removed so that the sign only read "Hollywood"

Why do the Hollywood Sign Hike?

How many people can say they've gotten up close and personal with one of the most recognizable cultural symbols in the world? Not too many. And having pictures to prove it is even better.

Whether you live in LA or are just visiting, add this walk to your list of things to do. A picture in front of the sign will most likely end up framed and sitting on a table in your house, because it is that cool.

 
$79.95
 

Planning and preparing to hike the Hollywood Sign

To start prepping for a hike to the Hollywood Sign, think about what day and time you can go. The park is open between sunrise and sunset. It'd be best to go on a weekday, at an off-time, because there's less people and parking is not restricted. If you go on the weekend, the earlier in the morning you go, the more you'll enjoy the experience. The worst times to go is on the weekend, in the middle of the day, during good weather and tourist season.

If you're starting your hike from N. Beachwood Drive, keep in mind that parking is prohibited between 8am and 6pm on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

 
View of the sign from the front. Note the red signs, any closer and I'd be charged for trespassing!

View of the sign from the front. Note the red signs, any closer and I'd be charged for trespassing!

 

The best weather for the Hollywood Sign Hike is during Spring and Fall. We do not recommend the hike during hot weather. It could end up in dehydration and could be a recipe for disaster. Also, don’t go when it’s too cold either. Just kidding, it never gets cold in California.

The hike via the Beachwood Canyon Trail will take you about 2-3 hours round trip, including parking and walking to the trailhead. Hiking one way from the trailhead to the sign is about 45 minutes. Bring plenty of water, at least 1-2 liters, and comfortable exercise clothes.

How to get to the Hollywood Sign Hike Trailhead & Parking for the Hollywood Sign Hike

The Hollywood Sign sits atop the Hollywood Hills, on Mount Lee, in Griffith Park of the Santa Monica Mountains. Complicated, I know.

To start the hike to the Hollywood Sign, you first need to get to your trailhead. There's multiple ways to get to the sign, there's multiple trails and multiple trailheads. Our recommended starting point is Sunset Ranch Hollywood which is at the end of N. Beachwood Dr. Another great starting point is Griffith Park Observatory. We have directions for both starting points below.

 
$97.05
 

Trailheads:

N. Beachwood Dr.

Important Update from one of our users: The N. Beachwood Dr. Trailhead/Hollyridge Trail is no longer accessible as of April 2017 due to a court ordered permanent closure of the Beachwood Gate. Instead, use Canyon Drive (Bronson Canyon/Brush Canyon Trail), which is 2 blocks east of Beachwood Drive (off Franklin). Or use the Griffith Observatory trail. Canyon Drive is the shorter hike and has sidewalks, trash cans, a parking lot, and facilities for visitors.

Griffith Observatory

Another place you can start your hike from is Griffith Observatory. Parking is free at Griffith Observatory but the hike becomes longer. The hike becomes about 6 miles round trip instead of 3 miles roundtrip. This is a good thing if you're looking for more of a challenge because if you start the hike from N. Beachwood Dr., it's a pretty easy hike.

Other options for getting to the Hollywood Sign Hike Trailhead

  • You could park in town and take an Uber to Sunset Ranch, where you will start your hike.
  • The city of Los Angeles apparently offers a 50¢ shuttle to the trailhead where you can start your hike: http://hollywoodsign.org/shuttle-frequently-asked-questions/
  • Have a friend or family drop you off and pick you up

Step-by-step directions to the Hollywood Sign Hike

 
 
 

The two best starting points are N. Beachwood Ave and Griffith Observatory

N. Beachwood Dr. to Hollywood Sign

Important Update from one of our users: The N. Beachwood Dr. Trailhead/Hollyridge Trail is no longer accessible as of April 2017 due to a court ordered permanent closure of the Beachwood Gate. Instead, use Canyon Drive (Bronson Canyon/Brush Canyon Trail), which is 2 blocks east of Beachwood Drive (off Franklin). Or use the Griffith Observatory trail. Canyon Drive is the shorter hike and has sidewalks, trash cans, a parking lot, and facilities for visitors.

Griffith Observatory to Hollywood Sign

This trail is called the Mt. Hollywood Trail, is about 6 miles roundtrip, and takes about 3-4 hours.

Directions
Park at Griffith Obersvatory
From the parking lot, follow W. Observatory Rd.
Turn left on Western Canyon Rd.
Turn right on Mt. Hollywood Dr.
From Mt. Hollywood Dr., turn left on the small and narrow nameless dirt path that connects you to Mt. Lee Dr.
Follow Mt. Lee Dr. to the Hollywood Sign

>>> Click here to see the Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign Hike on Google Maps >>>

 
As close as you can legally get to the front of the Hollywood Sign

As close as you can legally get to the front of the Hollywood Sign

 

Tips for the Hollywood Sign Hike

  • The Hollywood Sign Hike is fabulous for a group of family, friends, or co-workers
  • Don't get too close! The sign is monitored by security cameras and motion detectors; penalties for trespassing can be severe
  • After your hike, stop by Beachwood Cafe for some yummy food
  • Fun fact: Each letter is 45 feet tall and the sign is 350 feet long in total

Additional Links

 

Fun Fact from our friend Dani:

True story - I’ve hiked the Hollywood sign a number of times with friends and occasionally we spot a few full grown tarantulas clambering around the bushes by the trail parking lot. How this family of tarantulas moved into Hollywood Hills? Nobody knows. Also, there are always fresh horse manure patties on the trail; good to know not to let conversation distract from the terrain. And be prepared for some uphill side-stepping.
— Dani
 

Back to Reality

Well, that was fun! Hiking the Hollywood Sign is an accomplishment and a really cool thing to cross off the bucket list. It's interesting being able to take something so manmade and add a natural element to it. The Hollywood Hills are surprisingly beautiful and a great place for hiking. The view of the city down below is pretty amazing too, even though it's a little hazy from the smog.

If you enjoyed this hike, consider giving yourself a more of a challenge by starting at a farther starting point going on a similar hike around the area. Our top recommended hiking and camping spots near LA are Mt. Baldy, Catalina Island, and Sequoia/King's Canyon National Park.

 
$379.00

Hollywood Sign Hike Q&A

Question: Are dogs allowed on the trail?

Answer: Yes! Bring your furry friends because dogs are allowed on all trails in Griffith Park. The Hollywood Sign Hike is located within Griffith Park!

Question: How close can you get to the sign?

Answer: You can't get very close to it, there's either a chain link fence stopping you or No Trespassing signs telling you you're going to go to jail.