How to Hike the Hollywood Sign

While the Hollywood Sign has been a landmark to Los Angeles for generations, it has become quite difficult to hike to in recent years. Residents of the Hollywood Hills have begun placing parking cones and official-looking ‘Keep Out’ signs around the neighborhood to deter tourists and Southern California residents alike from ascending to the lookout point.

However, I am a firm believer in the fact that the sign, being both on public land and a symbol of an industry enjoyed by those far and wide, should be open to all. With that being said, here is how to reach the trailhead that leads to the viewpoint behind the Hollywood Sign!

Set your GPS for Beachwood Drive

The entrance to the Hollyridge trailhead is located at the end of Beachwood Drive. Since parking along the residential area of the road is reserved for residents and permit holders, hikers have to park a mile down the road, nearer to Beachwood Café.

IMG_1226However, once you’re parked (make sure to check the posted signs!), head north on Beachwood Drive, into the residential area and toward the sign.

After about a mile, hikers are faced with a large, brown gate that is coned off and policed by a security guard.

Don’t mind them!

For now, hikers are more than welcome to approach the door to the gate and let themselves in. The walk to the top of the Sunset Ranch driveway is a definite workout, but once the ground levels out, the Hollyridge Trailhead will be on the right hand side in between two dirt parking lots.

Two Lefts, Then a Right

IMG_1234The hike up to the Hollywood Sign is, of course, 100% uphill. Once hikers start on the trailhead, there’s nowhere to go but up!

At the start of the trailhead, there will be a sign featuring Smokey the Bear– take a left turn and continue ascending.

After a little while, a small dirt clearing opens up on the left-hand side that offers a great frontal view of the full Hollywood sign.

Continuing along the path, make a sharp left turn to continue along the Hollyridge Trail. Along the way are some pretty scenic views of the Hollywood Hills, Griffith Observatory, and the downtown Los Angeles skyline.

At the next fork in the road, posted signs indicate that the Hollywood Sign is a left turn. This is true, if all you want is a great, frontal view. However, if you want to ascend all the way to the backside of the Hollywood sign, then make a right turn and follow the paved Mt. Lee Drive to the top.

Enjoy The View

IMG_1245Though I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area my entire life, I had never hiked to the back of the Hollywood Sign. A friend of mine recently moved to town, so we embarked on this adventure together.

Admittedly, the hike was more than I had bargained for– we parked far, and made a few wrong turns! But after a while, we were finally looking over the Los Angeles skyline.

The view from behind the Hollywood sign, overlooking Lake Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, is incredible! On the way up, the rolling green of the hills reminded me of the hike up to Arthur’s Seat I did in Edinburgh (though not as green, since, y’know, southern California is a desert!).

Roundtrip, the Beachwood Drive/Hollyridge Trail hike was about five miles, and worth every single step.

What has been your favorite hike you’ve been on?

Author’s Note:
To the disappointment of many, Sunset Ranch has successfully won a court case to prevent people from accessing the Beachwood Drive trailhead. This means that the Sunset Ranch gate that provides access to the path will be locked for good within the next few weeks!

If you’ve been desiring to embark on the classic hike overlooking the Hollywood Hills, now is the time to do it. Alternative trails throughout Griffith Park also provide access– just not in the distance/time that this trail provides.


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