The Easy Hollywood Sign Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||6 miles (9.7 km)|
|Total Climbing||1,000 feet (305m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,709 feet (521m)|
The Hollywood Sign hike is one of those iconic hikes that you need to do at least once in your life. It’s a popular hike, but also beautiful. On your way to the Hollywood Sign (actually, you end up right behind and above it), you enjoy the natural wonders of the urban oasis called Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in America.
The trails climb through the chaparral of the Santa Monica Mountains, home to mule deer, hawks, and all sorts of wildlife. And of course, you’ll get the views of not only the Hollywood Sign, but also of Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Mountains, and Hollywood as you make your way up to Mt Lee (1,709 feet), which is where the actual sign lives. There are some steep sections on the hike, but thousands of people of all shapes and sizes hike to the Hollywood Sign, and you can too.
When you’re planning your Hollywood Sign hike, I’d recommend doing it as early as possible. Griffith Park is open 24 hours. The hike gets very crowded. If you do go early, try to go on a day where there’s no marine layer (clouds). There are a few routes to hike to the Hollywood Sign, and this is the shortest and easiest, and it also offers free parking.
Getting to the Hollywood Sign Hike
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. There are some wrinkles in getting to the trail, so I recommend that you read this section carefully.
If you read any directions referencing the Sunset Ranch or Beechwood Drive entrance, it’s no longer open. That route is a shorter way to hike to the Hollywood Sign, 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.
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.” These directions bring you to the actual trailhead.
Use this trailhead address: 2927 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA, 90068, USA.
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.
Gear for the Hike
You don’t need special hiking gear for the trails to the Hollywood Sign, regular workout clothes are fine. Here’s what I would recommend:
- Trail runners or sneakers
- Plenty of water (ideally in a great daypack)
If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list. I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too.
See The Gear I Use
Hollywood Sign Trail Maps
I highly recommend bringing some form of paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
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.
How To Hike to the Hollywood Sign
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Turn by Turn Directions
If you want to make a short detour for some more Hollywood Sign views, make the left at Mt Lee Road, get your shots, then continue on the hike along the path below.
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.
You can help other hikers. If you do this hike and something has changed, snap a few photos and email me the details. I’ll update the guide so that others can do the hike safely.