The Hollywood Sign Hike: Everything you need to know
One of the Top 3 Hikes in LA
The Hollywood Sign - 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 sign know that it's an entirely new experience. The Hollywood Sign Hike is a must do if you're in LA. Get up close and personal with the famous sign in the hills.
Everything you should know about the Hollywood Sign Hike
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-see destination for anyone visiting our lovely city.
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 icons of the world? Not too many. And having pictures on Instagram to prove it is even better. Whether you're a local or a visitor, if you like exercise and the outdoors, then make sure to add the Hollywood Sign hike to your list of things to do.
Planning and preparing for the Hollywood Sign Hike
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.
The best weather for the Hollywood Sign Hike is during Spring and Fall. We do not recommend the hike during hot weather. You can become dehydrated. Also, don’t go when it’s too cold either. Just kidding, it never gets cold in California.
The Hollywood Sign hike 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 one hour. Bring plenty of water, at least 1-2 liters, and comfortable exercise clothes.
How to get to the Hollywood Sign - Trail Guide, 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!
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: 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
- The city of Los Angeles offers a 50¢ shuttle to the trailhead: http://hollywoodsign.org/shuttle-frequently-asked-questions/
- Have a friend or family drop you off and pick you up
There's multiple ways to get to the sign, there's multiple trails and multiple trailheads. Here's a few of the trailheads:
3 Best Hollywood Sign Hike Trailheads:
1.) N. Beachwood Dr. (Sunset Ranch) Trail to Hollywood Sign
Currently Closed: 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. Sign the petition to re-open this trailhead.
2.) Canyon Drive Trail to Hollywood Sign: Easiest
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 6 miles round-trip and takes about 3-4 hours to complete, or 3 miles and 1 1/2 hours one-way.
3.) Griffith Observatory Trail to Hollywood Sign: More 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:
- Park at Griffith Observatory
- 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
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
Bring plenty of water and a snack to enjoy at the top!
Fun Fact from our friend Dani:
Is the Hollywood Sign hike worth it?
Yes! Hiking the Hollywood Sign is a hell of an accomplishment. An 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, like one of our top three recommended hikes in Los Angeles:
Hollywood Sign Hike FAQ
Is the Hollywood Sign Hike dog-friendly? Is the Hollywood Sign Hike stroller friendly? How about wheelchairs, is it ADA accessible?
Dogs: Don't forget the poop bags! Yes, 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.
Strollers: Yup, you should have no problem pushing a stroller along, as long as you can push it uphill! The hike goes along both paved roads and dirt fire roads.
ADA: Not advisable, but certainly possible. It won't be an easy walk in the park!
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.
Is the Hollywood Sign haunted?
Maybe a little...a young actress jumped to her death from the top of the H in 1932.
Is the Hollywood Sign open? When is it closed?
The Hollywood Sign hours are open for hiking from sunrise to sunset.