The Easy Hollywood Sign Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||6 miles (9.7 km)|
|Hike Time||2-3 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,100 feet (335m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,709 feet (521m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Park Website (?)||Griffith Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
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.
Want a shorter hike to the sign? You can visit the sign from the Wisdom Tree, but it’s a more rugged trail. Want to just go on a hike without any climbing or dirt, but that has good views of the sign? Try the Lake Hollywood hike.
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.
Use this trailhead address: 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA, 90068, USA.
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 official one, and it also offers free parking.
There’s also a sign that says the gate closes at sunset, just a heads up. I’ve seen it open past sunset, but use the lot after dark at your own risk. In general sunrise to sunset is a good guide for when the gate is open. If you want to do the hike after dark, just Uber or taxi to the gate and walk around it.
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 that lets you hike to the sign.
Gear for the Hike
You don’t need special hiking gear for the trails to the Hollywood Sign, regular workout clothes are fine. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water; at least 1L.
The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women)
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2020.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Hollywood Sign Trail Maps
Want me to take care of the details so you can just enjoy the views? I offer this as a guided hike.
The Easy Hollywood Sign Hike Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
The 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.
Optional Hike To 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.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.