There’s a lot of conflicting information about where you can and cannot get into the hike. This hiking guide is up to date and verified.
If you read any directions referencing the Sunset Ranch or Beechwood Drive entrance, it’s no longer open. There are a few routes to hike to the Hollywood Sign, and this is the shortest and easiest, and it also offers free parking.
When you get to the trailhead address, you can park in the big lot (lot 1), or you can drive up to the second lot that’s closer to the trailhead (lot 2). Try for the closer one, and if it’s full, head back to the bigger first lot. People also park on the side of the road farther down.
When you’re planning your Hollywood Sign hike, I’d recommend doing it as early as possible. The hike gets very crowded. If you do go early, try to go on a day where there’s no marine layer (clouds).
The Hollywood Sign is on Mt Lee, which is on the edge (and within) Griffith Park. Griffith Park is LA’s version of Central Park in New York.
There are some steep sections on the hike, but thousands of people of all shapes and sizes hike to the Hollywood Sign, so you can too.
You actually hike up behind the Hollywood Sign. You get great views of most of LA and the big mountains to the east that separate LA from Palm Springs and the desert.
If you Google directions to the Hollywood Sign, you will be routed to the main part of Griffith Park, which is nowhere near the Hollywood Sign. That’s because the Hollywood Sign Trust worked with Google and Garmin to override any directions, bringing you miles away to a Hollywood Sign “viewing platform.”
There is a shorter way to hike the Hollywood Sign (Beechwood Drive), but a group of homeowners didn’t want hikers using the public sidewalk in front of their houses, so they erected a locked gate to block public access to the park. For now, use the (100% legal) directions in this guide to get to the Hollywood Sign, the Beechwood entrance is closed. A group of local homeowners are fighting to keep public access to the park on Beechwood Drive open, and you can sign their petition here.
Some Quick Hollywood Sign History
The history of the Hollywood Sign starts when it was build in 1923 to advertise a housing development called “Hollywoodland,” and had nothing to do with the movies. This was before movies were big and before Hollywood was Hollywood. The cost was $21,000 (about $300,000 in today’s money).
The 45 ft high letters on the sign were originally lit up and flashed between “holly,” “wood,” and “land.”
The sign was only designed to stand for 18 months, but stayed up long after the housing development came and went. In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce paid to remove “land” and fix up the rest of sign as an attraction.
In 1978 the Hollywood Sign again fell into disrepair, being torched by arsonists and ravaged by termites. At one point the ‘O’ fell over. Recognizing that the sign is part of Hollywood history, Hugh Hefner had a fundraiser to save it. Contributors included Alice Cooper, Andy Williams, and Gene Autry.
Occasionally people alter the letters with black tarps to spell out other words. Recently the sign read as “Hollyweed” for a few days.
Turn by Turn Directions
Turn around and hike back down the way you came up. Resist the urge to climb down to the letters, it’s a minimum $1000 fine. Enjoy the hike back downhill, you earned it.
Bonus Hike – Bronson Caves
If you still have some energy when you get back to the parking lot, you can visit Bronson Caves. It’s not a real cave, but rather a tunnel blasted as part of a quarry that shut down in the 1920s. If you’re a fan of the old Batman TV show from the 1960s, it’s the entrance to the Batcave. It’s only a 10 minute hike to the cave and worth it just to check it out.
After you’ve explored Bronson Caves, simply return the way you came to end the hike.
A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.