The Best Places To See The Hollywood Sign

You can see the world-famous Hollywood Sign from many different spots in Hollywood, but the best way to see the landmark is to go for a hike in the oak-studded hills of Griffith Park.

Installed in 1923, the sign originally spelled out “Hollywoodland.” It was a massive advertisement for a new housing development of the same name in Beachwood Canyon. The letters sat deteriorating for decades, but today it’s LA’s most prominent symbol: “Angelenos and visitors both want to say they were there, to selfie they were there, to hike in its view for the first time or the hundredth.”

Unfortunately, the easiest and most popular route, the one from Beachwood Drive in Beachwood Canyon, was closed to hikers in 2017. Luckily, there are many other hikes that will offer rewarding vistas.

Below, we list trails along with a couple of non-hiking viewing options for those unable to make the trek.

If you choose to hike, take a look at this city map of the park before setting out. It pinpoints the sign and other landmarks, and it identifies roads, trails, and summits, and it includes parking information. And pack sunscreen and plenty of water, especially in summer and fall.

1. Walk from Lake Hollywood Park

One of the best Hollywood Sign-viewing experiences can be found at Lake Hollywood Park, an idyllic public space with views of Lake Hollywood. There is street parking along Canyon Lake Drive that’s never restricted (although ride-hailing is always recommended so you don’t have to deal with it) and a decent vista that doesn’t require any hiking at all.

If you want to get closer to the sign, walk up Mulholland Highway until it turns to dirt, which will take you to the Deronda gate (technically you’ll walk behind the gate and right into the park). Once inside the park there are plenty more great views, or you can hike the 1-mile, somewhat-strenuous route to the top of Mt. Lee, which puts you behind and above the sign.

2. Use the Deronda gate

This access point is located at the intersection of Deronda Drive and Mulholland Highway. Don’t plan to park here on the weekends: Parking is permit-restricted on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. To get to Deronda, your best bet is to use a ride-hailing service or take the DASH to Beachwood Village (buses run approximately 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily except Sundays) and climb the historic public staircases. You can also start your hike at the Hollywood and Vine Red Line station, which is a 35-minute walk to Beachwood Village.

When you get to the Deronda gate, don’t be deterred by the signs saying there’s no access. There’s an ominous-looking keypad on the door, but it has a timed lock that automatically opens from sunrise to sunset. You can take selfies just inside the park by the Tyrolian Tank, a water tank that offers excellent views, or keep hiking to the top of Mt. Lee.

3. Try the Wonder View Trail

The Wonder View Trail is one of the newest ways to access the Hollywood Sign, thanks to the city’s 2010 acquisition of Cahuenga Peak, making it the easternmost peak in Griffith Park. Park on Lake Hollywood Drive—watch parking restrictions, as always—then head up what becomes a very steep ridgeline (not for inexperienced hikers or those afraid of heights).

This is one of the shorter routes to the sign since you are approaching from the back (it will take you less than two hours round-trip). Instagrammers beware: The views are not optimal for photographing the sign, since you’re always looking at it from the side or behind.

4. Hike from Bronson Canyon

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The Bronson Canyon entrance to the park at the end of Canyon Drive is being touted as the new access point to the Hollyridge Trail due to two features: a parking lot and public bathrooms. Yes, those amenities are here, and it’s a fun hike to the sign from here because you can also visit the Bronson Caves (and there’s a good view from there).

But fair warning: The hike to the sign is about three hours round-trip. It’s also a long way from transit, and the Hollywood Sign isn’t visible for much of it. So this is a good spot for car-owning, fit hikers. Selfie-seekers seeking instant gratification might be better served by a different location. Unless you really like caves.

5. Trek from Fern Dell

A view of the Hollywood Sign at sunset from Fern Dell canyon. 
Jenna Chandler

For another picturesque but more difficult route, start your hike from Fern Dell Drive, the pretty, creek-meandering Griffith Park entrance located at the north end of Western Avenue. The good thing about Fern Dell is that it’s relatively transit-accessible; the Red Line’s Hollywood/Western station is less than a 20-minute walk away. If you drive, you can try to find a spot near the very charming Trails Cafe, where you can fuel up on tasty pastries, plus get water and use the bathrooms.

To view the sign, take the trail that’s etched into the left side of the canyon, the West Observatory Trail. It’s fairly steep, but once on the trail, you’ll be rewarded with some pretty spectacular views of the sign early on, just keep looking to your left.

There’s another reason to take this route: The trail leads to the Griffith Observatory. You can eventually work your way to the Hollywood Sign from the observatory, via the Mt. Hollywood and Mulholland trails, but it’ll be a long trip.

6. Take DASH to Griffith Observatory

This is the city’s “preferred” viewing area, a grassy lawn outside Griffith Observatory. Now the DASH bus runs to the Observatory from the Vermont/Sunset Metro Red Line station every 20 minutes, from noon to 10 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.

This is an especially hassle-free option because parking now costs $4 per hour at the Observatory (and congestion in the park on the weekends can be horrific).

The view from here is good, but if you want to hike to the sign from the Observatory, beware: The sign is deceptively far away. However, taking transit gives you the option to ride DASH up to the Observatory, hike to the sign, then hike back down to another Red Line station or the Beachwood DASH.

7. Go to Hollywood and Highland

If you wan’t a locals experience, this is not it. But, according to the Hollywood Sign Trust, the nonprofit that preserves and protects the sign, the best way to see the sign is at the mall. Yes, the organization wants you to take your selfies on the fourth floor viewing deck at the Hollywood and Highland tourist trap. The view is unobstructed, if distant, and it’s the most low-impact (and ADA-compliant) journey.

Plus, there’s plenty of parking and a Red Line station right beneath your feet.

8. Ride a horse from Sunset Ranch

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Since only those on horseback will be allowed to use the Hollyridge Trail from now on, why not join one of Sunset Ranch’s famous tours to get behind the Beachwood gate? While the ride doesn’t go to the Hollywood Sign exactly, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views in Griffith Park that are no longer accessible to humans. Tours start at $50 for one hour to a $125 “best view” tour that includes a barbecue. We hear it’s worth every penny.

Story courtesy of Curbed. 

Hikes in Los Angeles with amazing endings

Los Angeles’s wealth of outdoors activities is no secret, and now that fall is here, it should be cool enough to enjoy being outside the house during the day.

Hiking is a great, cheap way to enjoy the fresh air and fantastic weather, but for those more reluctant hikers—folks who need a little carrot to dangle in front of them as they trudge up a hill—we’ve compiled a list of Los Angeles-area hikes that all come with spectacular sights along the way or at the end: waterfalls, stunning views, unique leftovers from heydays as a filming site. So bribe friends and family by promising them a cool dip in a waterfall or a selfie with some leftovers of a M*A*S*H episode, and hit the trails.

Even though it’s technically fall, it’s still a good idea to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes and pack more water than you anticipate needing. This list of hiking essentials is a good way to prepare for even the shortest of walks in the wilderness.

Now, time to hit the trail!

1. Malibu Creek State Park

Hikes in Malibu Creek State Park have Hollywood connections, as the park includes areas that were used to shoot M*A*S*H and South Pacific. There are some rusted Army Jeeps and other signs of filming here, and it seems like every hiker who passes through stops to have her picture taken with one of the rusty relics.

The hike to this point and back is under 5 miles round-trip and gains less than 200 feet of elevation, making it a pretty good trip for families with kids who can be coerced onto the trail. 

Heads up: You will have to pay the $12 entrance fee to park in the lot if you want to start the hike at Crags Road; the trailheads for South Grassland Trail and Cistern Trail are both close to free parking. Hikespeak offers good directions with pictures here.

2. Echo Mountain

Want to have a picnic among some picturesque ruins? The trail to Altadena’s Echo Mountain will make you work for it. Beginning at the very top of Lake Avenue and through a big, beautiful gate, the 5-mile (round-trip) trail is all steep-ish switchbacks and little shade, but it is very well-maintained. It’s also peopled enough that a solo hiker can feel secure.

The reward is a dynamic history exhibit and shaded, very spread-out picnic space left over from the resort that used to be on the site.

There are also large pieces of the dismantled Mt. Lowe Railroad that once brought resort-bound vacationers here, and an old metal echo phone; yell into it and have your words bounce off the mountains back to you. Amazing! Click over to SoCal Hiker for image-heavy directions.

3. Wildwood Canyon

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Burbank’s Wildwood Canyon offers an easy-to-moderate 2-mile loop, with a peak providing sweaty explorers some amazing city views and a permanent reclining chair/memorial on which to kick back and relax until it’s time to carry on.

There are picnic grounds, restrooms, and drinking water off of Wildwood Canyon Road, too, so you can compare photos and munch post-hike snacks while you sit down and cool off. Get there early, though: The park closes at sundown.

4. Eaton Canyon

Eaton Canyon’s lower waterfall is looking fairly robust right now, likely thanks to snowmelt. (The upper falls are closed indefinitely.) The hike to the falls is relatively shady and relatively flat—the roughly 3-mile round-trip hike only gains about 375 feet.

Start hiking from the nature center, where there are restrooms, water, and people to talk to about the trails. This is a really nice novice hike or ideal for a day when you don’t feel like being in pain later.

5. Murphy Ranch

By now, a lot of people know about Murphy Ranch—the compound built by 1930s Nazi sympathizers in Malibu’s Rustic Canyon that was eventually supposed to have enough self-contained infrastructure to provide for a small town’s worth of people. But who has really gone through the trouble of seeing the place for themselves?

This generally flat hike comes in at just under 4 miles and starts only a few miles from the 405. The grounds are graffiti-covered but the structures that were built are still mostly in one piece (or in discernible pieces), and there are staircases and gates still standing, too. It was rumored last year that the buildings were being torn down, but photos show that it remains a really well-preserved site in a beautiful setting. Hikespeak provides detailed directions from the start of the trail.

6. Mount Wilson

If all of the trails above seem too tame, there’s always the hike from Sierra Madre’s Chantry Flat to Mt. Wilson, which is a punishing but beautiful trail about 7 miles up with a 4,200-foot gain in elevation. Lots of people do this hike as conditioning, to work up to bigger peaks.

One great reward at the end—if you’re up for it by then—is the Mount Wilson Observatory’s weekend tours, which run through the end of November. Tours start promptly at 1 p.m. and offer visitors a chance to see the 100-inch telescope. You can catch it if you start the hike early enough, a good idea anyway because the parking at Chantry Flat fills up fast.

Added bonuses for visiting the Observatory are the snack shack (also open through November), which offers cold drinks and food you might buy at a local softball game—chili dogs, Fritos, etc.—and restrooms. Plus, at the parking lot right below the Observatory, some kind soul might be waiting in a car to take your tired bones home.

The lot is about 30 minutes north of La Cañada. Cars parked in the lot will need a $5 day-use Adventure Pass, available for purchase at multiple locations.

Hikers could also continue back down for an approximately 14-mile hike, if desired. Detailed directions here.

7. Solstice Canyon

Solstice Canyon is a popular hike and with good reason: The trail takes hikers past waterfalls, the ruins of a burned-out Paul R. Williams mansion called Tropical Terrace, and the remains of what was once believed to be the oldest building in Malibu.

The National Park Service maintains a great website with directions to the trailhead and a downloadable map. If you go up the Rising Sun Trail and down the Solstice Canyon Trail to the TRW Trail, as suggested by Robert Stone in his book Day Hikes Around Los Angeles, it’s about 6 miles total. ModernHiker takes a slightly different route.

8. Cucamonga Peak via Icehouse Canyon

This Inland Empire hike is a strenuous but beautiful 12-mile roundtrip climb that offers vistas and glimpses of streams. A word of caution: At this elevation, you’re high enough to get some snow, but this hike isn’t a good idea if there’s snow on the ground.

The first part of the trek, up the trail through Icehouse Canyon, is well traveled and easy to follow. After Icehouse Saddle, the trail to Cucamonga Peak becomes “rugged, unkempt, and solitary,” Modern Hikernotes. The final leg of the trail serves up great views of the “Baldy Bowl,” the carved-out valley ringed by Mt. Baldy and neighboring mountains.

At the very top of Cucamonga Peak, there are Inland Empire views as far as the eye can see and the knowledge that you gained 3,800 feet in elevation. (Or maybe the real reward is a burger and a beer at the Mt. Baldy Lodge? Either way!)

Modern Hiker notes that an Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead to this hike, and a wilderness permit is required for traveling through the Cucamonga Wilderness. Inquire about both at the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center.

Article courtesy of Curbed.