Wisdom Tree Hike

Wisdom Tree Hike (+ Cahuenga Peak and Hollywood Sign)

In This Guide
  • Parking, Hike Prep, and What to Expect
  • Hike Directions & Video to the Wisdom Tree
  • Optional Extension to Cahuenga Peak & Hollywood Sign
  • Optional Loop to Valley Overlook
Distance1.8 miles (2.9 km)
Other Options 3.2 miles, 4.2 miles
Hike Time1:30 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)740 feet (226m)
Highest Elevation1,690 feet (515m)
Fees & PermitsNone
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park Website (?)Griffith Park
Park Phone323-644-2050
Stay In Touch - - -

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.

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.

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Locals on Wonder View Drive have these signs up for people driving to the wrong spot based on their GPS. If you are walking and have a personal GPS for the hike, this is not for you.

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.

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Here is Lake Hollywood Drive. Park on the side of the road and walk to the trailhead.
Wisdom Tree Hike Parking
After parking on Lake Hollywood Drive, you walk up Wonder View Drive to the trailhead.

Use this trailhead address:
Lake Hollywood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068

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If you are taking an Uber, they should drop you off before Wonder View Drive at this sign.

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.

FYI >>REI 50% Clearance Sale on now

La Sportiva Spire

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: WomenMen

Opsrey Stratos Blue

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) 

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

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.

Click To View Map

Wisdom Tree Hike (+ Cahuenga Peak and Hollywood Sign) Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy (prices on REI and Amazon) and does a lot of the same things.

Hike Landmarks (Full 4.2 Mile Loop)

Trail Start0.31120
Wisdom Tree0.91690
Cahuenga Peak1.21821
Hollywood Sign1.71709
Loop Junction2.21750
Valley Overlook31150

3D Map

Wisdom Tree Hike 3d Map
The initial hike basically goes straight up to the Wisdom Tree and Burbank Peak. If you continue to the Hollywood Sign, you’ll have some ups and downs along the ridge. The loop back veers off the ridge for spectacular views into the valley, then loops back to the start.

What is the Wisdom Tree?

The Wisdom Tree
The Wisdom Tree has an interesting story, and it’s worth knowing a few things before visiting.

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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Video Directions

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Turn-By-Turn Directions

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Head up the paved Wonder View Drive from the top of the parking area on Lake Hollywood Drive.
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Head up the paved street and be respectful of the locals.
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Even on this beginning stretch, the views are incredible.
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Head through the gate at the end of Wonder View Drive.
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Shortly after the gate you’ll come to a big open area. The trail to Wisdom Tree is straight ahead to the right.
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At the beginning of the trail you’ll see this trail sign from Griffith Park. We’ll be heading up to Burbank Peak. The official trail name is the Burbank Peak Trail, but it’s also known as the Wonder View Trail and the Wisdom Tree Trail.
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You’ll see a commemorative plaque at the beginning of the trail. Head up the trail. Watch your footing; the trail is steep and bit rocky.
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Take your time, the trail is steep.
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After the first rocky section the trail turns to dirt and continues to climb.
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When you get to the switchback, make the hard left. Almost there.
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One last short steep section of trail.
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When you see the trail sign, make the hard left.
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The Wisdom Tree! You made it!
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There’s also a USA flag at the summit.
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Feel free to peruse the words of wisdom or add your own. You can check out the Wisdom Tree’s Instagram page for some highlights.
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Please treat the tree with care. Some parts of the branches might be covered for protection and restoration.
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From Burbank Peak you can see the tower on top of Mt Lee, just behind the Hollywood Sign.

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).

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Head back the way you came. You’ll be hiking over the ridges in front of you to the tower in the distance.
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When you get to the trail sign, instead of making the right on the trail you came up on, go straight.
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The trail is small but easy to follow. This is the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail, named after one of the donors that helped save this land from developers.
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Avoid the side trail to the left and go straight.
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When you get to the second trail on the left, keep going straight to the peak. The trail on the left is the loop trail. If you just want to do the loop trail, turn here and pick up the directions later. If you are doing the Hollywood Sign and the loop trail, you’ll turn down here on the way back.
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Keep hiking up the trail to the peak.
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You’ll get some great views of Mt Wilson, Echo Mountain, and Inspiration Point.
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Here you are, Cahuenga Peak, the highest point in Griffith Park at 1,821 feet.
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Continue towards Mt Lee.
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This stretch of trail is a bit rugged with some ups and downs. It’s a real “trail trail” though.
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You’ll be able to see the trail unfurling in front of you. Make your way along the dramatic ups and downs.
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As you get closer to Mt Lee you’ll start to see some fencing and the back of the Hollywood Sign. Keep going!
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When you reach Mt Lee Drive, make the right and continue on the paved road.
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Head up the road behind the Hollywood Sign letters.
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When you see the radio towers, make the hard left before the fence.
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Climb up the little path to the Mt Lee summit.
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Here you are, on the summit! It’s rare that you’ll see no one else here though. I got lucky.
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From here you can get great views from behind the Hollywood Sign looking out over LA.
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Once you’re done at the Hollywood Sign, head back along the ridge the way you came. You’ll have some ups and downs but it’s not as bad as it looks.

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).

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When you get back to the loop junction trail that I mentioned a few steps ago, head on down it. It’s a small trail but it’s a trail.
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The trail can be a little overgrown but it’s easy to follow.
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You’ll reach the first plateau that has some sweeping views. The trail continues straight.
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These downhill sections can be steep. Just take your time and watch your footing.
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Down to your right will be Forest Lawn Cemetery, final resting place of Carrie Fisher, Bette Davis, and many of Hollywood’s famous names.
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When you get to Valley Overlook, take in the views and continue straight.
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Below you’ll see the trail unwind along the ridgeline.
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This area of the park hasn’t recovered much from the 2007 Barham fire. The white buildings down to the right are Warner Brothers Studios.
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The last section down is steep.
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When you arrive at the trail junction, make the hard left on the wider trail.
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After the narrow section of trail you just finished, this wide and gentle section will feel great. Continue up the trail.
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This section of the trail is beautiful as it gently winds along the valley.
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The trail winds away from the valley and by some power lines.
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And soon you’ll arrive at a gate. Pass around to the right.
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And boom, here you are back where you started! Head down Wonder View Drive to the parking area and that’s it.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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