Hollywood Sign Hike


An internationally recognizable symbol. Everyone's seen it in photos or while driving in LA, but for those of us who have done the hike up to the top of the sign know that it's an entirely new experience. A must do hike if you're in LA; keep reading to learn how you can get up close and personal with the famous sign in the Hollywood Hills.

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

History of the Hollywood Sign

The story of the name for 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.

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".

In the years since, the sign has become a staple of Los Angeles and a must-visit destination for anyone sightseeing our lovely city.

Planning a trip to LA?

Why do This Hike?

How many people can say they've gotten up close to the Hollywood Sign, one of the most recognizable cultural icons of the world? Not too many. And having pictures on Instagram to prove it is even better. Whether young or old, local or visitor, if you like to exercise and enjoy the outdoors, make sure to add the Hollywood Sign hike to your LA bucket list.

Planning and preparing for the hollywood Sign Hike

To start prepping for the 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 more parking. 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 because it will be crowded.

The best weather for the Hollywood Sign Hike is during Spring and Fall. We do not recommend the hike during a rain storm or hot weather. You can become dehydrated. Also, don’t go when it’s too cold. Just kidding, it never gets cold in LA.

The Hollywood Sign hike will take you about 2-3 hours round trip, including parking and walking to the trailhead. This depends on your experience level as well. Hiking one way from the trailhead to the sign is about one hour. Bring plenty of water (like in a camelbak), at least 1-2 liters, and comfortable exercise clothes and shoes.

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View from behind the Hollywood Sign and Downtown LA in the distance

View from behind the Hollywood Sign and Downtown LA in the distance

Is the Hollywood Sign open for hiking?

Yes! The Hollywood Sign is not closed. It's just that one of the ways to get there has been closed. But there's still a lot of other ways to get there. To start your hike to the Hollywood Sign, you first need to choose and get to your trailhead (where you start your hike).

Tip: Parking can be tight. Instead of driving and looking for parking at your trailhead, consider one of these options:

  • You could park in town and use a ride-share app to get to your trailhead

  • Take the shuttle if it's available

  • Have a friend or family drop you off and pick you up

Hollywood Sign Trail Directions and Parking

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

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!

There's multiple ways to get to the sign, there's multiple trails and multiple trailheads. Here's a couple of them.

2 Best Hollywood Sign Hike Starting Points:

Trailhead 1) Canyon Drive Trail to Hollywood Sign (Easy - Moderately Difficult depending on experience)

Since the sunset ranch way has closed, the Canyon Drive Trail to the Hollywood Sign has become the go-to trailhead for people looking to do the Hollywood Sign Hike. For this reason, parking can be most difficult here and the trail is the most crowded. The Canyon Drive trailhead has sidewalks, trash cans, a parking lot, and facilities for visitors. This hike from Canyon Drive to the Hollywood Sign is about 4 miles round-trip and takes about 2-3 hours to complete, or 2 miles and 1-1.5 hours one-way.

Click here to see the Canyon Drive Trailhead and Parking Lot on Google Maps

Click here to see Canyon Drive Trail to Hollywood Sign Walking Directions on Google Maps

Trailhead 2) Griffith Observatory Trail to Hollywood Sign (Difficult)

Griffith Observatory is an great starting point for this hike. Parking is free at Griffith Observatory. The hike from Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign is about 6 miles round-trip. It's not the easiest trail but it's perfect for those looking for more of a challenge. The trail from Griffith Observatory to the sign is called the Mt. Hollywood Trail.

Griffith Observatory Trail to Hollywood Sign Walking Directions:

  1. Park at Griffith Observatory

  2. From the parking lot, follow W. Observatory Rd.

  3. Turn left on Western Canyon Rd.

  4. Turn right on Mt. Hollywood Dr.

  5. From Mt. Hollywood Dr., turn left on the small and narrow nameless dirt path that connects you to Mt. Lee Dr.

  6. Follow Mt. Lee Dr. to the Hollywood Sign

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

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

  • If you’re planning a road trip, I recommend getting an RV rental in Los Angeles

  • Fun fact: Each letter is 45 feet tall and the sign is 350 feet long in total

  • Bring plenty of water and a snack to enjoy at the top!

Additional Links

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.
— Our Friend Dani

Is the Hollywood Sign worth Hiking?

Yes! Hiking the Hollywood Sign is one hell of an accomplishment. A fabulous item to check off your LA bucket list. It's a really great feeling seeing the sign in person. And who knew the Hollywood Hills are such a surprisingly beautiful place for hiking. The view of the city is incredible too, even if it's a little hazy from the smog.

If you enjoyed the Hollywood Sign Hike, consider giving yourself more of a challenge next time by starting at a farther starting point or going on a similar hike around the area. Here's our top three recommended hikes in Los Angeles (not including hollywood sign hike):

  1. Murphy Ranch

  2. Mt. Baldy

  3. Catalina Island

Hollywood Hike FAQ

  1. Is the Hollywood Sign Hike dog-friendly? Yes, don't forget the poop bags. Bring your furry friends because dogs are allowed on all trails in Griffith Park (on a leash!). The Hollywood Sign Hike is located within Griffith Park and dogs are allowed almost anywhere in Griffith Park.

  2. How close can you get to the Hollywood Sign? 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.

  3. Is the Hollywood Sign haunted? Maybe a little...a young actress jumped from the top of the H in 1932.

  4. Is the Hollywood Sign open? When is it closed? The Hollywood Sign hours are open for hiking from sunrise to sunset.

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Hollywood Sign Hiking Information by Content Marketing Consultant Meelad Mashaw