Wisdom Tree Hike (+ Cahuenga Peak and Hollywood Sign)
|In This Guide|
|Distance||1.8 miles (2.9 km)|
|Other Options||3.2 miles, 4.2 miles|
|Hike Time||1:30 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||740 feet (226m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,690 feet (515m)|
|Fees & Permits||None|
|Park Website (?)||Griffith Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
The Wisdom Tree hike, one of the most popular in Los Angeles, offers a lot of bang for your hiking buck, right in the middle of Hollywood. The Wisdom Tree, the only tree to survive the 2007 Barham fire and a source of inspiration thousands, sits atop Burbank Peak, the highest peak at the end of Griffith Park. From the top you’ll be able to soak in not only the good vibes of the Wisdom Tree but also sweeping views of LA and the mountains surrounding it. The hike is short but steep and is doable by most everyone.
I also have a few Wisdom Tree hike extensions in this guide that are worth your time.
- You can also continue to Cahuenga Peak, the highest in Griffith Park, and then on to the Hollywood Sign. This adds another 1.4 miles to the hike for a total of 3.2 miles (about 2 hours total time).
- If you visit the Hollywood sign, you can come back on a loop trail to one of the least visited areas of Griffith Park, which offers sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley (also known as “the Valley”). If you add the Hollywood Sign and this loop on the hike is 4.2 miles (2-3 hours total hike time).
How to Get to the Wisdom Tree
Okay, please read this section carefully because parking is tricky. The actual trail starts a short way up a paved road (Wonder View Drive), but you can’t park on it. Some other online guides for the Wisdom Tree hike have the parking listed on Wonder View Drive, but there is no parking or thru-traffic there. Please be respectful of locals (and avoid a tow) by parking in the right place.
The good news is that there is plenty of free parking on Lake Hollywood Drive. Just park on the side of the road wherever there isn’t a no-parking zone. Park as close to the top of the hill as possible.
Use this trailhead address:
Lake Hollywood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
There are no bathrooms at the trailhead or anywhere on the hike. There are porta-potties at the start of the nearby Lake Hollywood hike though.
Gear For the Hike
The good news is that you can get away with fitness clothing on this hike. But many sections are steep and rocky, so I’d recommend trail runners or hiking shoes. You can get away with sneakers in a pinch. And if you happen to have trekking poles, they’ll help on the steep sections (up and down) as well. There’s almost no shade, so protect yourself from the sun and bring 0.5L of water per hour of the hike.
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 (or Amazon).
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.
Wisdom Tree Trail Maps
Overall the trails are in good condition and are easy follow, but it’s not a wide and gradual trail like the hike to the Hollywood sign. That said, there are no dangerous sections; all the trails are solid and safe. Just watch your footing on the steep and rocky parts.
Wisdom Tree Hike (+ Cahuenga Peak and Hollywood Sign) Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Hike Landmarks (Full 4.2 Mile Loop)
What is the Wisdom Tree?
- The mountains around Burbank Peak were slated to become luxury homes in 2008. The community fought against this, and with the help of donors like Hugh Hefner, Steven Spielberg, Tiffanies, and most of the movie and TV studios, the land was bought from the developers and donated to Griffith Park in 2010.
- In the 1980s, McDonald’s would give away tree saplings for Arbor Day. Legend has it that the Wisdom Tree is one of those.
- In 2007 there was a wildfire here (the Barham Fire) and the area was devastated; the only tree left standing on the top of Burbank Peak was the Wisdom Tree.
- Local resident Mark Rowlands put a notebook and some pens under the lone tree and visitors started leaving their words of wisdom in it. Mark still maintains the tree and notebooks.
- The Wisdom Tree quickly became a favorite place for visitors. But all the attention wasn’t necessarily great, and some people carved their names into the tree, broke off branches, peeled bark, and other dumb stuff.
The Wisdom Tree is a special being in a special place. Please treat it with respect. Don’t touch it, carve into it, climb it, or break bark off. Please pick up any trash you see on the trail and bring it out. A good piece of wisdom is to leave everything in better shape than you found it.
Wisdom Tree Hike Directions
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If that’s all you want to do, you simply hike back down the way you came up. This hike on its own is beautiful and a great adventure. But if you want to continue onto the optional extensions, keep reading.
Cahuenga Peak and Hollywood Sign Extension
With just a little more trail time you can hit the highest peak in Griffith Park, Cahuenga Peak, and then Mt Lee, which is perched behind the Hollywood Sign. Doing an out and back to the Hollywood Sign is 3.2 miles total (about 2 hours total time).
Valley Overlook Loop Extension
From the Hollywood Sign you can go back the way you came, or you can add a mile on and do a loop trail that offers sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley and mountains around LA. The loop will bring you back to the start of the hike without going up the way you went down. Adding the loop makes the hike 4.2 miles total (2-3 hours total hike time).
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.