Are you wondering whether Can you hike to the Hollywood sign or not? There is no denying that the Hollywood Sign is one of the most iconic and must-do sights in Los Angeles and that you will want to photograph and get as close as possible to it.
Nevertheless, all navigation apps will automatically direct you to the Griffith Observatory several miles away if you look up driving directions to the Hollywood Sign. There is only a distant view of the Hollywood Sign from here (as from the other “official” viewing spot at the Hollywood and Highland shopping complex on Hollywood Boulevard).
The view from both of these viewpoints is disappointing, to say the least. I have seen the sign from both of these viewpoints years ago.
Fortunately, it is possible to hike up the Hollywood Sign for free and you can even do it from home. You can get an incredible view of Los Angeles from the top of Mount Lee, which is not a difficult hike (it’s more of an uphill walk). Also, it is not too touristy, so you won’t have to deal with crowds when other Hollywood spots are busy.
Hollywood Sign history: what is it?
When Mount Lee was erected in 1923, the iconic letters were four letters longer than they are today. Hollywood land was advertised below the sign along Beachwood Drive and surrounding ridges, with large white letters spelling the word. When the Hollywood Sign was built, the letters were fifty feet tall and lit by thousands of bulbs. Even though they were originally intended to be temporary, they have endured for nearly a century.
The letters on the sign deteriorated over time and became an eyesore, which caused the sign to be restored in 1949 when the lettering was changed to better represent all of Hollywood. A 45-foot tall sign needed to be redesigned in 1979, when it was installed again. A souped-up billboard ad now stands as one of the world’s most iconic landmarks (though it does not have a national landmark designation).
H O L L Y W O O D
We’ve all seen the sign in pictures or while driving in LA, but those of us who have hiked to the top of it know it’s an entirely different experience. If you’re in LA, this hike is a must-do; keep reading for instructions on how you can get up close to the Hollywood Hills sign.
Directions and parking for the Hollywood Sign Trail
In Griffith Park of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood Sign is located atop the Hollywood Hills, on Mount Lee.
Several trails and trailheads are available for getting to the sign. Here are a few.
The two best starting points for a Hollywood Sign hike are:
To Hollywood Sign via Canyon Drive Trail (moderately difficult).
The Canyon Drive Trail to the Hollywood Sign has become the go-to trailhead for people looking to do the Hollywood Sign Hike since the Sunset Ranch Way closed. Because of this, parking here can be quite difficult, and the trail is crowded. There are sidewalks, trash cans, parking lots, and facilities at the Canyon Drive trailhead. A round-trip hike from Canyon Drive to the Hollywood Sign takes approximately 2-3 hours, or a one-way hike takes approximately 2 miles and 1-1.5 hours.
Hollywood Sign Trail from Griffith Observatory (Difficult)
You can start this hike at Griffith Observatory. Parking is free at Griffith Observatory. From Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign, the trail is about 6 miles round-trip. It’s not the easiest trail, but it’s perfect for people who like a challenge. Mt. Hollywood Trail connects Griffith Observatory with the Hollywood Sign.
Walking directions from Griffith Observatory to Hollywood Sign:
- Griffith Observatory park
- Follow W. Observatory Road from the parking lot.
- Take Western Canyon Road to the left.
- Mt. Hollywood Dr. is on the right.
- Take the small, nameless dirt path connecting Mt. Lee Dr. to Mt. Hollywood Dr.
- To reach the Hollywood Sign, follow Mt. Lee Dr.
Tips for hiking to the Hollywood signs
A few different trails in Los Angeles can take you to the Hollywood Sign, including Griffith Observatory. In this post, we recommend the shortest routes, the easiest and best paths, what to avoid, and other tips for hiking to the Hollywood Sign. (Updated March 14, 2021.)
As the peak directly above and behind the DOOWYLLOH sign is the final destination of all paths, this is how to hike to it. There is a view of Downtown Los Angeles and beyond from here, making this one of the most iconic views in California, not just for the Hollywood Sign either.
Several trails were temporarily closed in March 2021, but most have now reopened, including the Mt. Hollywood Trail and Brush Canyon Trail. I am aware of only one trail remaining closed as of March 2021, the Cahuenga Peak Trail. Trails in Los Angeles County require face masks and social distancing.
A common question in response to our social media posts about our hikes to the Hollywood Sign in the past has been how to get a photo in front of the sign. Getting to the front of the sign is impossible, except from a distance.
The Los Angeles Communications Center is adjacent to Mount Lee’s peak, making much of the area around the Hollywood sign strictly off-limits.
If you even try, you’re going to get fined and swarmed by the LAPD. Trust us on that one–we know what it’s like. If you’ve ever spent 30 minutes up at the Hollywood Sign, you’ve probably heard the police come over the loudspeaker when someone thought they didn’t have to follow the rules or wouldn’t be caught. You will get caught if you climb the fence to get to the Hollywood Sign. Almost certainly before you get over the fence.
I would like to move on to the actual hike, which leads behind the Hollywood Sign. Unfortunately, one of the best routes to the Hollywood Sign is now closed to the general public, via the Beachwood Canyon trailhead. (If you see this option elsewhere, it is outdated.) This is due to “not in my backyard” neighborhood groups feigning outrage over the popularity of public access to the Hollywood Sign.
The Hollywood Sign has been the target of these groups for years, and it’s not just residents on Beachwood and Hollyridge Drives. Every residential street with access points to the Hollywood Sign has groups who have fought for access. In addition to putting up signs, they have managed to redirect users to Griffith Park using Google Maps, and they have gotten police to waste time patrolling these neighborhoods.
Currently, access to the Hollywood Sign is a tense public issue in Los Angeles, and we will update this post if/when further changes are made.
Regardless, we recommend staying away from all neighborhood access points for parking. In a sense, the residents are right: the infrastructure in these areas is inadequate for modern traffic and tourist parking demands. It’s barely fit for any traffic at all. Avoid blind corners and hairpin turns if you’re not used to driving on these roads.
We consider this a win-win scenario since you can avoid all of this and still hike to the Hollywood Sign. As our first option for hiking to the Hollywood Sign, we can park on Canyon Lake Drive (Google Maps address: Hollywood Sign, 3115 Canyon Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068).
In addition to a spacious two-lane road, there are actual (free!) parking spaces lining the road from the above-mentioned address. A nice place to take a straight-on photo of the Hollywood Sign is Lake Hollywood Park. If you don’t want to hike, this is a great place.
As well as being the shortest and easiest hike to the Hollywood Sign, you’ll be able to park at this street parking area and walk back towards Mulholland Highway.
If you consult Google Maps, it will direct you down Ledgewood or Rockcliff Drives, without understanding that you can walk the dirt path between “the Last House on Mulholland” and “Lost Angels Studio.”
If you choose to park closer on Mulholland, you’ll have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the first parking spaces on Canyon Lake Drive and behind the gate on Deronda Drive.
Parking is extremely limited along Canyon Lake Drive. Some areas do not have parking signs, and others require permits. Save yourself the headache by parking along Canyon Lake Drive.
You may not associate Los Angeles with dangerous wild animals, but you’ll see warnings all over the place for snakes, so that’s that. These hikes are all through the urban wilderness. We might also see P-22 around, who is Los Angeles’ mascot.
Overall, It’s an incredibly fun experience to hike to the Hollywood Sign, and well worth the effort. The hikes are also not nearly as touristy as one might expect, largely because of parking challenges and locals’ efforts to block access points. They offer great views along the way, making them among the best in Los Angeles. It is almost unimportant to mention the Hollywood Sign’s backside, as the spectacular panoramic view of Los Angeles from Mount Lee is truly amazing. Keep it simple…unless you want a ticket.
Frequently asked questions
Is hiking to the Hollywood Sign legal?
As with Griffith Park, authorized hiking trails are open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year. While hiking, please stay on authorized trails. Please be aware of the extreme fire danger on the trails, parts of which are still recovering from the devastating 2007 wildfire. Trespassing is prohibited.
How close can I get to the Hollywood Sign?
The Hollywood Sign is guarded 24/7 by LAPD officers, and security cameras are trained on it constantly. A hike to the summit of Mt. Lee takes you to a spot just behind the sign.
How much is the hike to the Hollywood Sign?
Get up close and personal with the Hollywood Sign on this 3.5-mile hike in Griffith Park starting from the Greek Theatre box office. You will hike the best trails and have stunning views of the greater LA basin.
What is the easiest hike to the Hollywood Sign?
Trail of Hollyridge
Hollyridge Trail – Easiest
The Hollyridge Trail is an easier hike to the Hollywood sign, covering about 3.5 miles with about 750 feet of elevation gain in two hours.