It took me 18 years, but I finally went on the Hollywood Sign hike, and it was wonderful. If you’re wondering what took me so long, I’m asking myself the same question. I don’t really have a good reason, but the sign is visible from many vantage points throughout the city, and I suppose that had something to do with it.
If you’ve never been to LA before the Hollywood Sign should be on your list in some form, and getting up close to one of LA’s most well known icons is pretty special.
Where is the Hollywood Sign and How close can you get?
The Hollywood Sign is located in Griffith Park at the top of Mt. Lee. Situated within a protective fence it is impossible to actually walk right up to it, but you can get fairly close.
There are multiple trails leading to the Sign, and depending on the one you choose you’ll either have views from below or above. It’s quite possible to do both, which I recommend. Do keep in mind that there are security cameras and climbing the fences or approaching the Sign will result in a minimum fine of $1000.
There are many entrances to Griffith Park, but for this hike you’ll want to enter at 3200 Canyon Drive, Los Angeles 90068. Don’t google the Hollywood Sign as those directions won’t lead you to this hike, but to an alternative viewing platform far from your desired destination. There are two parking lots in this location and either one will work.
How Long is the Hollywood Sign Hike? Is it difficult?
Depending on your chosen route the hike is around 6 miles round trip with 1100 feet of elevation and takes between 3 and 4 hours to complete. Due to the change in elevation the hike should be considered moderate, though people of all fitness levels have successfully completed this hike.
Spring is a great time to complete this hike as much of it is out in the open with very little shade. The hills are still green from the winter rains making the trail extra beautiful. If not you might consider waiting for late autumn, early winter and avoid the extreme heat of summer.
Once parked you’ll want to walk to the end of the furthest parking lot, go around the gate, and head straight. The trail is a wide flat dirt path, which for the most part goes up though there are a few dips here and there giving you a reprieve.
Take a left at the first T and then continue along the main trail. Keep winding around the mountain and be on the lookout as you’ll see glimpses of the Sign as you climb. Make sure to admire the many scenic viewpoints of the Observatory, Downtown LA, and Hollywood along the way.
About two miles in the trail starts winding down to the left. Go this way to see the front view, but if you’re after the view from behind the sign take a right onto the paved Mt. Lee Road, and keep climbing.
The trail winds up and around to the left and then…
There it is! The world famous Hollywood Sign. Climb just a little bit higher for this wonderful view of the entire sign and the city spread out below.
Take your time, savor the moment, admire the view and remember to be safe.
Afterwards, if you haven’t yet, head back down to the front view for a different perspective.
These people are standing about as close as one can get. Do you see the people far above standing at the Summit of Mt. Lee? That’s where we just were. It’s only a few minutes from one vantage point to the other.
What if I don’t want to hike, but still want to see the sign?
There are always other options. As I mentioned the Sign can be seen from many places around Los Angeles, including: Hollywood & Highland, The Broad Building at LACMA, 71 Above in DTLA, the 10 freeway and many more.
If you want to get close, but don’t want to walk you can go on horseback, and finally the Sign’s official website provides suggestions for a number of other optimal viewing spots around town, one of which is the Griffith Park Observatory located in… Griffith Park. If you choose this location you’ll not only see the Sign, but the Observatory as well. Check two of LA’s most famous institutions off your list at the same time.
On a clear day the Observatory offers incredible views in every direction. The view of the Hollywood Sign from this location is great, but you’ll need a long range lens on your camera to get a good photo.
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Tips & Advice:
- Bring water. It’s hot and there is almost no shade. There is also nowhere to get water, and there are no facilities along the trail.
- Wear comfortable closed shoes, and did I mention bring water.
- There are signs pointing you in the correct direction. Please stay on the path and heed all signage. Let’s keep this place pristine for others.
- There are no fees associated with this hike.